Looking for a cheap newborn photographer? Here’s why you shouldn’t be
“Looking for a cheap newborn photographer”.
It’s one of the most common “ask for recommendations” posts on Facebook. “Someone who doesn’t charge the earth”, “no silly prices please” and so on.
I get it. Babies are EXPENSIVE.
The list is endless.
Pram, cot, car seat, changing table, monitors…
Changing bag, steriliser, cot mobile, breast pump…
Nappies, wipes, creams, bibs, bottles, dummies, baby grows, muslins, blankets…
For something so tiny, they sure do need a LOT of stuff.
And somewhere on your shopping list, there’s the words “newborn photo shoot”. You’ve ticked off the big items, you’ve stocked up on all the bits and bobs, you’ve calculated what little will be left over from your maternity pay, and you start looking at photographer prices.
Surely you don’t need to pay that much. It’s just a few photographs! I mean, your phone has a pretty good camera. And you can get a good canvas from that photo place in the local supermarket, right?!
You’re on a budget, after all.
Everyone has budgets, so one person’s “cheap” may be another person’s “whaaaaat?” And I swore I would never write a blog justifying what I charge. But I want to ensure you don’t lose out on a very special, irreplaceable (and extremely time limited) period in your baby’s life by spending your hard earned cash with the wrong person. Like a wedding, you really only get one decent chance for newborn photographs.
So here’s why photographers charge what they charge, and why looking for a “cheap” newborn photographer might not be the best option for you.
Handling tiny newborns has to be done right. We’ve all seen the midwives slinging them around for their APGAR tests, but midwives know what they’re doing and your photographer needs to, as well. Babies are delicate. Their joints are easily damaged, their circulation is poor, and their airways are tiny.
This is where training comes in. And I don’t mean watching a few videos on You Tube, either. An experienced newborn photography trainer will charge anything from £1,000 – £1500 for one-to-one training. This training is absolutely essential to ensure that your photographer understands how to safely handle and pose your baby without compromising their airways or affecting their circulation. Even when we swaddle a baby, we are taught how to position legs so that hips are protected, and ankle bones don’t rub uncomfortably against each other. We are taught to use wraps for security and structure, and how to spot signs of discomfort such as over heating or laboured breathing.
Bottom line, you should never entrust your baby to someone who hasn’t invested in training to ensure your tiny human is kept safe at all times.
On top of this, regular training ensures we know what we’re doing in terms of lighting, angles, poses, co-ordinating textures and colours. It’s a big investment for us, so chances are good that the cheap photographers haven’t paid out for this kind of training. But it’s essential for safety and it means your final pictures will be on a whole other level to that untrained, cheap photographer.
We all have to start somewhere. You can’t become an experienced photographer without building a portfolio, doing free shoots, photographing your family and friends’ children. And you can’t charge a lot until you know what you’re doing – it’s not fair to your clients.
So if you see a photographer who is surprisingly cheap, offering a huge amount of digital images, building a portfolio, chances are they haven’t been doing this for very long.
Now I’ve got nothing against these photographers. I WAS one of them, for a long time. They’re trying to learn a new skill, and doing their best. Sometimes, you get lucky and you actually get someone with a lot of natural talent.
But experience counts for a LOT.
Once you’ve been doing this for a long time, you encounter (and learn how to deal with):
- Babies who won’t sleep
- Siblings who won’t co-operate
- Babies who have reflux, or colic, or tongue tie, or other medical needs
- Parents who feel tired, and uncomfortable, and awkward in front of the camera
- Strong babies who object to being wrapped
- Babies of different ages (who all have different photography needs)
Experience means a bag of tricks for awake babies, and stroppy toddlers, and camera shy parents.
I’m not saying you won’t get a few nice memories captured from someone who is busy learning and building their portfolio. But from a safety AND skill point of view, someone who is just starting out might not always be the best option.
A newborn photographer who is serious about their business will have invested heavily in it. Like any business, there’s a list of significant overheads you will never see (and never even consider when looking for a cheap newborn photographer).. Insurance, studio rent, equipment outlay and maintenance. Accountants, website design and maintenance, logos and branding. Marketing and advertising. Subscriptions to editing software, professional organisations, training updates.
Now I don’t expect my clients to care about my overheads, why on earth should they? I don’t worry about Tesco’s running costs, I just want to see full shelves and a cashier at the tills.
But someone who doesn’t charge much doesn’t have these overheads and therefore isn’t always a professional, reputable business.
They might not have insurance in place, or Health & Safety policies and risk assessments in place. There might not be policies in place to ensure that if you are unhappy for whatever reason, there will be a route for you to discuss your concerns. They might not even have the basics like a business bank account. They might, in the baldest possible terms, be a risk for you.
A professional business gives you an extra layer of security.
And by “professional” I don’t just mean someone who has a studio. I know some amazing (and VERY professional) photographers who work from their front room, or garage, or come to your house. But they have a solid business set-up behind them; they’re not just someone who has bought a camera and decided to make a few quid from photography.
I’ve left this until last because everyone has a differing view on what investment means.
To me, newborn photography is comparable to food shopping.
- You’ve got your budget level for value and bargains, or when things are a bit tight – your Aldi and your Lidl.
- Then you’ve got your everyday level for convenience and “good enough” quality – your Tesco, Sainsbury, Asda.
- Then there’s your “special occasion” shop – Waitrose, Marks and Spencer. The place you go for your Christmas lunch items, or your anniversary dinner. You wouldn’t shop there every day, but for special occasions you want to push the boat out.
And then at the top of the tree there’s Harrods or Fortnum & Mason, for when you’ve won the lottery!
The question is, what is newborn photography to you? If you’re watching the pennies, and you can only afford an Aldi-level photographer, fair enough. There’s no judgement here.
But I’d say for most people, having a new baby is a special event and if you CAN afford the Waitrose level photographer, don’t scrimp and save.
Is it a luxury? Yes. So I can totally understand why people ask that question, “looking for a cheap newborn photographer”.
But like everything in life, you get what you pay for.
The bottom line
Your baby is tiny and newborn for such a short period of time. Invest in quality photographs and that special experience that comes only through training, experience and professionalism. Your photographer isn’t ripping you off. They have significant overheads and their profit margins aren’t anywhere near as high as you might think (believe me!)
And those first few weeks, when you bring a new life into the world and two becomes three? Or three becomes four? They deserve to be captured by someone who knows what they are doing.
So by all means shop around, ask for recommendations, and PLEASE do your research before committing to a photographer, whatever their price.
You’ll never regret beautiful images, even if you had to stretch to pay for them. But there’s a good chance you’ll regret opting for the cheapest name on your list.