My journey into photography started when I had my son Cooper. Like many mums I was excited about our new arrival and start clicking away and suddenly I was hooked!! I decided to open a business and not knowing how to price my craft, I thought digital files don’t cost anything except the cost of the disc so simply put a price of $50 for a disc of 50 images. Sure I was flooded with enquiries. Were they great photos – They weren’t too bad but still very much an amateur photo. So I embarked on the long journey or educating myself, first with my Diploma of Photography, Illuminate and Purely Polished by The Milky Way and Connie’s Magic Moments Newborn Photography Workshop. In addition countless hours of online courses through Creative Live. What I didn’t understand was the importance of pricing your newborn photography correctly. It was after watch Lori Nordstrom on Creative Live that I sat down and worked out just how much this business was costing me. Let me tell you I was shocked. I was earning less than $0.01 per photo – Less than the minimum wage. Everything adds up. The below photo shows you just how much it costs for just one setup. I have an entire studio full of these set ups ($1000’s). This does not include the cost of insurance, the heater, electricity, my wage, cost to print (this varies depending on what is being printed). One session can take approximately 12-24 hours of total time from start to finish- so at a minimum wage ($26.56 = $637). Sure my clients loved have a disc full of images but I was spending my nights (sometimes until 3 am) editing to try and catch up, all the while trying to look after my baby boy. My husband did not appreciate my time on the computer either. So last year after having my daughter I decided enough was enough. I was not going to give up my dream of owning a photography business but I did set some limits. I firstly had to decide how many hours a week I wanted to work. I set my business hours to those of real business hours- ie 9-5pm (ok sometimes I sneak on the computer after this time) but gone were my nights of staying up so late. I now edit on the days my kids are in kindy and my shoots will often still be anytime during the week (as long as I have a baby sitter available). So no, I now no longer offer a $50 All you can eat buffets! I have priced according to the cost of my products, what I can afford to live on (surprise I need to actually contribute to my family) and continue to update and hone my skills as a newborn photographer. I now provide a safe and calming environment for the babies and families I work with. I am fully insured and now have quality family life as I am now balanced. Most importantly my newborn photography pricing is at a place I am now comfortable with.
To parents looking for a photographer- consider these questions:
- Is the photographer insured, qualified and experienced to handle your precious little one.
- Do they provide the props?
- Does the price reflect their quality of work?
- Do the newborns in the photos look comfortable (face is relaxed) or awkward (tense face, trying to hold their head up at too early an age)?
- Are the backgrounds smooth or wrinkled? Is there a consistency between their photos?
- What is it that you are after from a photographer? 100 digital files or an amazing piece of art for your wall that everyone comments about? Both digital and prints?
- How long have they been in business for?
- Are they an actual business or a hobbyist?
- Don’t wait until your baby is born to book – your chosen photographer may be booked out.
- Remember you can never get those first 2 weeks back again- they go by so fast! Choose your photographer wisely.
- Have you sat down and actually worked out your pricing correctly?
- If you haven’t got the qualifications or confidence to handle newborns should you market yourself as one?
- We all start somewhere, it takes a lot of time and patience.
- Have you got a quality of life that suits you and your family? Value your time.
To someone thinking about taking up photography as a career:
- A good camera does not mean you can take great photos- would you say you have great paint brushes so can you can paint like Picasso?
- There is a lot more money and time involved in photography than one might think
- Do your research, educate yourself, can you charge more or not at all until you are more confident?
Would I change what I do? Never I love it with a passion. Would I change how I went about things in the early days? Absolutely. The important thing to remember is that everyone has their own budget and limits and there is a photographer that suits everyone’s needs. Tulip Flare Photography now offers Take Home Layby to help spread out the cost of your photos over 6-12months so that you can afford beautiful images. Photos help tell our story to our families and friends don’t miss out simply because you can’t afford a particular photographer. This article is not designed to target any particular photographers – I started out as a Mum with a camera who had no idea what it cost to run a successful business, just to simply to help create an understanding on the cost of the photography industry.