My wife and I have been married for over 5 years and have 3 children together ages 6 months to 4 years. We met while both serving in the U.S. Coast Guard and from day one, we had a lot in common as far as careers go. Once kids came along she decided to leave the Coast Guard. A little over a year ago, she jumped headfirst into the business of newborn photography, a career of which I knew nothing about. And that is where this story starts….
Over that past year, I’ve learned a thing or two and have observed countless couples come and go from our in-home studio with their newly birthed bundle of joy. The moms are beaming with happiness and cannot wait to see their new little one posed in picture perfect ways. All of the cutest baby dresses, hand knit hats, and pretty backdrops are at their disposal in order to get that perfect shot! And the dads, well they are just brimming with excitement. You know the kind right? The kind of excitement that comes from having a child with the woman you love. The kind of excitement that says… she wanted to do this so here I am. The kind of excitement that says, how many freaking knit beanies does this chick really own? The kind of excitement that says…really…another outfit? Now trust me on this. No matter how many of these sessions I have witnessed, I have been through at least 10 times as many impromptu photoshoots with my wife behind the camera. That’s just one benefit of having a photographer, an in-home studio, and 3 children all under the same roof. I know this is what the men are feeling because I’ve felt the same things.
I am not going to sugar-coat this next part. Obviously I have a bias and the goal of this post is to get you or your significant other to buy into this whole Newborn Photography thing. Don’t get me wrong, I still would much rather volunteer for a prostate exam than get pictures taken. But believe it or not I am now a converted believer. Of all the possessions you own, I guarantee that the photos taken of your child just days after birth will be the most precious of all.
Where do we start? Well, for me the first question is price. And honestly the pricing of a lot of photographers usually doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. Remember, your newborn photographer is most likely a woman who has developed her marketing scheme that speaks to your wife (who is likely a woman herself). The mind of a woman is a beautifully complex thing. Trying to understand that is way beyond the scope of this post (and this lifetime). So let me break it down for you. Speaking plainly, you’re in for about $1,000. You might get away with spending less; you could certainly spend more. Photographer’s prices can vary quite a bit. But, get in the mindset now that we’re not talking in the couple hundreds range. Now, if that just isn’t in the budget I completely understand. I wouldn’t want anyone to miss their rent payment because of newborn photos. So go ahead, stop right here, tell your 9 month pregnant wife it just isn’t in the budget…. go ahead we’ll wait. You’re back? How’d that go for you? That’s what I thought, let’s continue.
Now for the sake of not wasting your time, here are few other things you should know:
- A session takes about 3 hours, bring snacks if you get hangry.
- You will be forced to be in some of the pictures, if you do manage to escape this part then you, Sir, deserve a beer.
- Your baby will poop and pee all over the photographer at some point during the session. This is proof that your child likes picture no more than you and is seeking its revenge. Feel free to laugh at this when it does happen.
- Your child will go through more wardrobe changes than Madonna during super bowl halftime. Just remember, this is why the studio in our house has doors on it…it keeps all those props locked away so I don’t have to deal with storing them somewhere else.
- It’s going to get hot. Since taking pictures of your baby bundled up with only their nose showing was already done at the hospital, your child will for the most part be completely exposed for the photoshoot. A space heater is used to keep the room at around 85 degrees so your baby will sleep through it (don’t worry the electric bill is on me).
- Ultimately the experience can be summed up as this…two sleep deprived parents sitting in a hot, quiet room watching your baby sleep, and likely falling asleep themselves. That’s about it folks, not a big deal.
Okay so after all this you may be asking, when do I get to see my pictures and why can’t I just buy just the digital files? Of course you can just buy your digitals and run to Walmart for your 9 cents a photo and send them off to Aunt Sally. Or even better, like most parents with a new child, have the best intentions to do lots of things but then get caught up in the wonderful daily challenge called raising children. You’ll end up posting a cute one on Facebook and letting the rest rot on your computer’s hard drive until you discover them again three years down the road in the same folder as your wedding photos (same story with those too!). You will find that a lot of photographers purposely build their pricing structure to encourage you to buy some type of physical product like a canvas or a print.
Now, before you begin your rant on how it’s all a scheme to make money, let’s look at it from a business perspective. Profit equals the price you pay as the customer minus the cost it took the photographer to make that product. Sending you all the digital files costs the photographer less than paying a professional print company to make the canvas, ship it to the photographer, and then sell to you. So by selling you a canvas or a print the photographers profit decreases. Why would they do that then? Simply put, maybe it’s not all about profit and perhaps a bit more about customer satisfaction. Photographers have access to companies who deal only with professional photographers, not consumers. That means the quality of product you receive is something that you literally cannot access without the help of your photographer. But ultimately, the big motivator is that you will be able to enjoy your photos the day you receive them. It also guarantees that those photos (and your money) don’t go to waste sitting on a computer desktop, but puts them in a place you can enjoy them each and every day.
Bottom line, photography is an art that means different things to different people. My wife is constantly asking me to preview her final images. And while I respect and support the work she does, looking at beautiful photos of other people’s children does not elicit a very emotional reaction for me. But looking at the photos of our oldest son from just over 4 years ago brings me to tears almost each and every time. Knowing that I am able to look back on a stage in his life that passes by so quickly helps me better cope with the fact that each day he moves closer to an age of complete independence. So as your wife shows you the wonderful work of various newborn photographers, you are not alone in feeling nothing more than the lightening of your wallet. But understand that today these photos mean a lot to her and someday soon they will mean the world to you.
Written by: Jason Veara
*above photo of our family by Norma Fayak Photography