Fast Food vs Fine Dining
When I was starting out as a newborn and maternity photographer, my mentor Ana Brandt taught me that photography is like a dining experience. Sometimes you are in a rush and need to grab a bite quickly, so you go to a fast food restaurant. You don't expect a five star service nor outstanding quality of your meal, but you get your necessity covered, which is eating something without investing too much time on it.
Other times you are celebrating something. There's a special occasion and you plan for a nice dinner. You go to an elegant restaurant, where you'll have waiters giving you great service and a fancy menu created by a chef that studied culinary art and that is a master in his profession.
These two options don't cost the same, but you accept that because they are different. When you go to a fine restaurant, you are paying a lot more. But it is worth it, because the reason of your celebration is worth it. But doing fine dining every night would be tiring for both your palate and your wallet, that's why you save it for special occasions. There are situations where fast food is good enough and there are occasions that deserve fine dining. The same goes with your photography sessions.
Your Newborn is a Celebration
Some times you just need some pictures taken to remember your trip to Europe or your backyard dinner party. A friend with a nice camera or an iPhone and a selfie stick would do (although I'm openly not a fan of those stick things!). But on special occasions, on unrepeatable moments, you want the whole service experience, the fine dining pampering where professionals will make sure you get quality over quantity. And what is more worthy of a celebration than the arrival of your newborn baby? Documenting your pregnancy and his or her arrival will be an investment, yes, but you know it's worth it. You won't do this every day as you would going to a fast food place. This is a fine dining occasion. You are celebrating new life, your family growing, and that asks for the best of the best.
Why is Newborn Photography Expensive
Yes, I know it is expensive. It's like going to a three Michelin star restaurant. But like everything, there's a reason to it, and like everything, you get what you pay for. You don't want anyone with a camera handling your newborn baby. There's a lot to consider regarding newborn physiology and safety. We professionals take courses and invest a good amount of time learning everything we need to know to make sure your baby is safe at all times. Good education costs money.
If you are going to hang these images on your walls, you want them to look stunning. For an image to look beautiful, we need to have an extensive variety of props. These include blankets, wraps, outfits, headbands, bonnets, furs, baskets, wreaths, bowls and the list goes on and on. These props are expensive, and since everything has to be washed between sessions, they get worn down quickly, so we need to restock constantly. And quality products are pricy too. I chose my labs carefully, making sure I'm giving you prints, canvases and photo books that will last for years. There were cheaper options, but then again, this is a fine dining experience.
Your baby is the boss during the session. This means, we can't tell him or her what to do nor to fall asleep whenever I'm ready to take his or her photo. Babies sleep, eat and poop whenever they need to and want to. Newborn sessions have to last a long time to leave room for these events to happen without messing with the outcome. There's a lot of patience involved. That's why I only book one newborn per day, and by doing so, the number of sessions I can take are very limited.
Newborn babies are all beautiful, but birth is a tough process and sometimes it leaves some marks on your baby's skin. These have to be edited after the session in professional software like Lightroom or Photoshop. These programs cost a lot of money to own and to learn. It is very easy to over-edit an image. Knowing the sweet spot between smooth skin and doll-like skin takes time and practice.
Owning a business is not cheap. Being a registered business, paying taxes, having insurance and becoming a member in different photographer's associations is not cheap. There are many costs involved in operating a business and it all comes from the costs of sessions. Just as with the analogy my mentor told me, if you want cheap, you go to your hobbyist friend. If you want a good service and a good product, it will cost you more.
You won't hire a high-end photographer for an everyday occasion. But this is your baby's story. Your path to parenthood. Making sure you get the best quality images and the best experience throughout the process is worth every penny. When searching for a photographer to document this stage of your life, keep this in mind: do you want a fast food or a fine dining experience?