So you’re looking for a cheap newborn photographer…
The newborn photography industry seems to be a pretty unique place. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure what I’m about to tell you happens across the board, in most industries, but for some reason, it seems to be more acceptable to ask a photographer to work for free or for very little remuneration, so I wanted to address this on behalf of our hard- working, creative industry, but also in a way that helps the consumer to understand a little bit more about why we do what we do and the way that we do it.
As a mum of three, busy boys, and a member of the Northern Beaches Community, here in Sydney I am also a member of such Facebook groups as ‘Northern Beaches Mums’ and ‘North Shore Mums’, where it is a fairly frequent occurrence to be tagged in or come across posts such as:
“Looking for a newborn photographer that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg! Recommendations please”
“Looking for recommendations on newborn photographers at a reasonable price.”
“Looking for newborn photographer recommendations on the beaches. Nothing too expensive and natural as possible. We have seen one that only provides 5 images for $450 so looking for a much better deal. Thanks!”
It is also not uncommon to receive regular requests to provide free photography services or prize donations on behalf of charities, schools, other businesses and (more recently) Influencers, often with the promise of ‘photo credit’ or ‘extra exposure’ in place of payment.
On one occasion I was asked to photograph a business networking event, for free, where I was a paying ticket holder, as a favour to the organiser (who I had never even met before).
This post is a tricky one to write, as I’d hate for it to sound as if it’s coming from a place of bitterness (it isn’t), but more as a gentle explanation in the hope that it can help people to understand the pressure to please that we feel as creatives, in a society which increasingly undervalues our training and expertise.
I’m here to help!
Let me just back up here for a second and tell you something you might not know about me… I am a people pleaser. I have spent a lifetime literally surrounded by people (I am 1 of 10 siblings) so I am hard-wired to want to help people. Even when I know that I am doing myself a disservice, I can’t seem to help but put everyone else in the queue ahead of me. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy helping other people. It makes me feel good when I can do something that makes someone else’s life feel better. But this same element of my personality also causes me the most anxiety, especially when the enquires, messages and facebook posts roll in. Every week I am asked to work for free, or for so little that I would actually be paying to work… and it’s impossible to know what to say. What would you do if you were me?
This is not a hobby… it is my career choice
Please do not misunderstand me; I get that raising a family, or launching a new business or charity event is hard work and expensive. (Been there, got the t-shirt!). I hear the need and the hope in each new request or well -intentioned message. But I never know how to respond when someone asks for free or tells me that my price is too high. How do I explain that this isn’t just a hobby, but something I have invested in, perfected and chosen as my professional career? This is what I do to pay the bills and raise my family… How do I make people see that I am not here to ‘rip off’ anybody or charge ‘an arm and a leg’; to take advantage of other families who are also just doing their best?
There does seem to be some sort of disconnect in the photography industry between value and perception. Maybe it’s because our work is not always tangible? (since the digital age, there is always a demand for digital products, while prints and framed products are on the decline). Perhaps it’s because most people don’t see the hard work that goes into creating beautiful, once-in-a-lifetime images, believing instead that it’s simply the click of a button and the rest is magic?!
The demand for good quality photography is higher than ever…
One thing I know for sure, it that more photographs are taken now than at any other time in history. We are the most photographed generation. And people ALWAYS want good quality images to share online or to save for future generations.
I understand that every family and company has a budget (I think most of us do!), but a good rule of thumb the next time you are looking for a photographer who ‘doesn’t cost an arm and a leg’, someone who will just ‘take a quick photo’ or who might possibly work for ‘exposure’ or ‘photo credit’, is to think about your job, about how much it costs you to raise your family, and what you would say if someone asked the same of you!
There is no “cheap” or “quick” when a job is done well. I am proud of the fact that when I shoot a session; whether that be a maternity, newborn, baby or family photo shoot, I always give 110%. I do not skimp on props and materials to use during your session; I believe you deserve the best, so I invest in the very best artisan products from around the world to wrap around your beautiful baby bump, or to lay your sweet newborn baby upon. I do not cut corners when it comes to your photography experience; I invest in the best possible software to make the job of booking and organising your photo shoot as well as ordering your final photos as pleasant and efficient as possible. I have thought of every element of the photography process from start to finish from your perspective, to make sure that it is as good as it can be.
Every photographer starts somewhere, and it takes years and years of trial and error to create something wonderful. I’ve arrived at a place now where I know the quality of my work and it’s really lovely to feel valued for it and for the time I put in!
As a ‘people pleaser’ I am worried that this post might be taken the wrong way or cause offence. Perhaps you have unintentionally undervalued a photographer in this way in the past? I’m sure you didn’t mean to cause offence, you just probably never thought about it in this way before. Don’t worry about it! But maybe next time you need to update your family pics or you need some fresh content for your social media, just remember everything it has cost that professional to be able to offer the thing that you want and need, and set your expectation accordingly, so that everyone feels happy and valued.
And if you are in Sydney and shopping for a maternity, newborn, baby or family photographer, feel free to jump on my VIP list to receive news about upcoming events, mini sessions and special offers before the crowds on Facebook and Instagram!