Custom newborn portraits are something that most everyone can afford. No really. I’m serious. Having been in photography for about 4 years now and seeing photographers come and go and seeing every range of pricing you can imagine,
I’ve learned I’m learning so much about why custom newborn portraiture costs what it does and why it truly is so much better than having your portraits done at a “superstore” studio. If you’re anything like me, this is how a session at a superstore studio goes: get a coupon for a complete print package and session for around $29.99. Spend 45min to an hour getting ready for said session. Drive to store, wait anywhere from 10min to nearly an hour. Get a full session that lasts approximately 15 MINUTES. Have 3-4 poses to choose from for the package you have a coupon for. Oh but wait, you want two different poses? Well, the coupon only covers 1 pose, but you get around 50+ prints of that ONE pose. What a bargain! So, back to you want a second and maybe even a third pose? Okay well that’s gonna cost you extra. And not just a little extra. Want a black and white? OH…that’s going to be $40 extra. So if you’re anything like me, you leave out from your 15 minute cookie-cutter portrait session with a total bill of anywhere from $120-$175. I’ve honestly NEVER left one of those studios with less than $100 out the door. Because let’s face it…you really want more than one picture to show off your newborn, right? (Or your family, your children, etc. The idea is the same).
The pictures below were purchased with one of “those” coupons you get in the mail from a superstore. It came with a 10×13, 2 8×10′s, 2 4×5′s and a bunch of wallets. We ordered a couple extra 8×10′s and 5×7′s and spent a total of $129. Tried to take a pic of the receipt, but it’s so faded you can’t really even see the pricing. And folks, this was 13 YEARS ago we paid that price. So even though we used the other images, you see we have a bunch of leftover wallets. Wouldn’t it be nice to have been able to order 5×7′s or an 8×10 instead of the wallets that we didn’t need 1000 of?? Okay okay, I’m exaggerating about the 1000 wallets obviously. But you get my point. Right? Right!
So on to the next example. Same superstore studio. 15 minute session after waiting for nearly an hour with 6 poses to choose from. Yes, it was Easter time, but we DID have an appointment also. This actually ended up being my most favorite session in a studio ever. As you can see, we ordered alot of prints. We went in with a $39 coupon; and we paid close to $350. What was lacking here was someone who was experienced in decorating with portraiture. What I mean is, we bought several of everything, without really knowing “how” to display them in our home. Some ended up in frames, many ended up in the package. We had several 5×7′s that came with the coupon that we really didn’t need or want either. And again with the wallets. I didn’t photograph them here, but there were tons again. We just aren’t a family who really needs wallets. It would have been nice to have been able to switch out wallets and the 5×7′s for poses we did want/need.
So bottom line, IMHO, is that even though you start with a cheap coupon deal, you’re still going to end up spending some serious $$$ for pictures. Why not book a custom photographer, spend an hour or so with them, and then get professionally edited images and get them in the sizes YOU want for the same price, or close? A professional photographer can help you decide how to best spend your allotted budget to get the look you want for the images in your home? Do you want a lifestyle session? A more formal session? A beach session, field session, urban session? That’s not something you can go to a superstore and get.
For those of you who say you can’t “afford” a custom session: Let’s use me as an example. (women you will likely get this comparison easily!). My hairdresser is not what I consider “cheap” at all. I usually spend around $150 each time I go and get a cut/trim, color and highlights. Why do I spend that much when I could easily go to a strip mall hair salon and pay only $50ish for the same thing? Well, duh, that’s an easy one! I choose my hairdresser because I know that she is a professional and I will have an amazing cut, color and style when I leave there. I know that it will be exactly what I like. I trust her judgement and her skills to provide exceptional service. Because she runs an amazing salon, I also get “freebies”–a personal consultation each and every time I go, a scalp and neck massage, a coke (or even beer or wine if I wanted that!). She works on me for two hours. That’s $75/hr you say! That’s outrageous that someone would charge that kind of money! Well, not really. As a salon owner, she has costs also. She has a license to upkeep. Business related costs to pay. Continuing education and learning so that she can keep up to date with the latest hairstyles or techniques. Try getting that when you go into a strip mall salon. You may get lucky with that, or you may not. To me, peace of mind is worth paying that extra and knowing that when I walk out, my color will be correct, my cut and style will be AMAZING and I will have had a great time chatting with and catching up on news with my hairstylist. She makes it her job to make sure that when I leave, I am satisfied and happy will my new style and/or color.
One last thing, related to my hairdresser. When I first started using a professional stylist, I thought I couldn’t “afford” to use someone that expensive more than once or twice a year. $150 is quite a bit of money for me. But you know what? I started looking at what I was spending elsewhere frivolously. Lunch out on almost a daily basis – $8ish per day or more. Family dinner out – $60+ easily for the four of us. A 20th pair of flipflops that I really didn’t need. Coffee from Starbucks at almost $5 each. The list goes on and on. As adults, we spend money on things we really don’t need all the time. 20 years from now, when I look at my family’s portraits, I want to see that they were professionally done and that my hair looked amazing! Okay, yeah, I know that’s a bit of a stretch about the hair, lol, but hopefully you understand what I’m saying! Something that you spend $150 or more on today…15 or 20 years from now, is it still going to be worth that to you? A $500 TV for example, that you just bought. What’s it going to be worth to you in 15 or 20 years? Most definately not $500. What about a family portrait session that you spent $500 on? What’s IT going to be worth to you in 15-20 years? Would you part with it? Would you sell it? No! Because it’s going to be PRICELESS.
Your newborn is only a newborn for a very short time. It is a once in a lifetime chance to get some amazing images of him or her while they are so new and so tiny. Those precious little humans change so darn fast. Are you going to trust that to a superstore studio to capture those moments with a couple poses? Or do you want to spend just a little more and get amazing, unique images customized to your likes and desires, along with macro close-up shots of those tiny little fingers, long little eyelashes, etc? Folks, there’s just no two ways about it. This is an amazing time, and you most certainly want to do what you can to capture every precious second of it. 20 years from now, you will think nothing of the money you spent on those beautiful beautiful portraits you have of when your off-to-college-baby was a newborn baby.
This beautiful family came to me as a referral from a previous client (love those referrals y’all!!). When a special Auntie called me and told me she wanted to book a cake smash session for twin girls, I was beyond excited. Twins! Cake Smash! Can you say double the fun??? This session was booked almost 4 months ahead of time, and I’ll tell ya it was so hard to wait for it. These two girls were so funny to work with. Miss Abri was a complete natural at working the camera….I’d pick my camera up, and she would put on the smile. I was totally laughing out loud with these girls! Big sister was awesome too, she was a wonderful helper to both me and the girls. They sure couldn’t ask for a better sister than her! This was a “full” one year session, so we did several more formal shots of the girls, as well as the cake smash. Some of my favorites:
This image below just stole my <3 when I saw it. These are two cousins, and the moment is both magical and intimate.
Here’s the beautiful big sis:
AND…the cake smash begins!!!
Oh man, this cake is the bomb!
“I don’t know what you’re crying about….this cake is yummy!” (haha)
“You don’t want your cake? Alright then, let me help you out!”
And their completed cake smash collage….with the wild girly colors to match their cake smash outfits!
Little Miss Colbie was a little older than my typical newborns have been, but no matter…she was super to work with! I traveled to her home for her session. While she did make me work a bit harder to get her to that nice sleepy state, I will totally forgive her because she gave me some of the most amazing smiles ever! She had the prettiest skin of any newborn I’ve done thus far. It made editing a dream and super easy. I’ve found so far that each newborn baby I’ve done has some “trait” that is totally unique to them. With Miss Colbie, it was her snort! Ahhh, if you could just have heard her. It was the absolute cutest sound I think I’ve ever heard! There were so many great images that came out of her session. Here are just a few of my favorites:
You might remember seeing Miss Ava’s parent’s on my blog a few weeks ago when I did their maternity session. Her mom was the stunning mother basking in the golden sunflare? Yeah, one of my favorite maternity images to date! Miss Ava had her session in my home studio. She was easily one of my best sleepers to date and pretty much just went along with whatever we wanted to do with her. She was so easy-going and very laid back. Dad even participated in the session for some of the shots. Miss Ava had a busy day…she dressed up as both a princess….and a lioness….rawr! Here are just a few of my favorites from this session:
Baby Hope’s parents are repeat clients of mine. Several months ago I did a one-year cake smash session for their beautiful little girl Peggy Sue. They were an amazing family to watch them interacting together. So when Hope’s mother booked me for her newborn baby session, of course I was thrilled to work with them again! Baby Hope wasn’t scheduled to come until August, but she was so excited about getting here that she came in July. Baby Hope’s session was done in the comfort of her own home on St. Simon’s Island. She was another easy baby to work with and we got some fantastic images. Unfortunately litte Peggy wasn’t feeling so well when I was there for my visit, so we were only able to get a couple images of her with Baby Hope. Bless her heart! I love when parents add a personal touch to the images. In this case, mom had picked up a gorgeous wall frame painting with a poem on it; and guess what? The poem on the wall hanging was about “Hope”. How perfect to add it to one of Baby Hope’s pictures! Here are just a few of my favorites from her session:
And here’s the image with the wonderful antique painted wall hanging. How cute is this??
Thank you again, Baby Hope’s family for inviting me into your home for such a momentous occassion. I am beyond blessed to be able to share in such a special moment in your lives. I can’t wait to see both the girls grow bigger!
This family from Waycross, Georgia contacted me about doing a beach birthday session for their little boy who had just recently turned 3 years old. Of course right away I thought about Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island! Where else to take an adventerous young man! They requested a few posed images, but asked that the rest be more of a lifestyle type session. Right.Up.My.Alley! I am really loving the lifestyle sessions lately. It’s the best of both worlds, really. Not only do I get to capture a few posed shots, but I also get to capture family member interactions, children interacting with each other and children interaction with their environment. The sole focus of this birthday session was to capture Lucas doing what he does best: exploring and checking things out! I followed him everywhere. Man, did he have so much energy! He was so enraptured by everything he saw; so inquisitive, looking above and below everything he came across. Want to know what the best part of the session was? He sang to me! Yep. He sang to me! Old MacDonald Had a Farm. Over and over again. It was so cute and made for some great images. Here’s just a few of my favorites:
And my personal favorite: a memory image of all his favorite things right now. How great will this be to look back on years from now and re-read all about his favorite things??
The mother of this beautiful little red-haired girl and her handsome big brother contacted me to do her daughter’s 3 month session. This little beauty was so easy to work with, and all smiles! She is the first red-haired child that I have photographed and I certainly hope she’s not the last. The three month milestone session is set up to capture your babies ability to smile at and recognize family members, along with being able to hold their heads up and push their chests up off the ground slightly when resting on their bellies. Little Miss Capri did all of the above perfectly! She absolutely has the most amazing blue eyes I’ve seen on a baby yet! So glad we were able to utilize one of my blue backgrounds to really make her eyes pop. Big brother was great also. He wasn’t much for getting his own picture taken, but that’s okay. That’s pretty much your typical boy starting to come out! He was very good with her and tried to help us keep her smiling by shaking my jingle bell stick by her and talking to her; and that within itself was a great thing to witness. Lots of love here between these two! Here’s just some of my favorites from her session:
And my absolute FAVORITE image of them together from the session:
Miss K is a returning client. I first met her as a 2 month old “newborn” (she was soo tiny!), and went on to photograph her and her adorable big brother a few months ago for a siblings session. This family is absolutely adorable and Miss K is always full of smiles. However, there was something about the combination of her cake, my studio and playing in the cake that she just wasn’t into! While we did get some of her smiling, we definately got some of her crying as well. But even when she’s crying, check out how adorable she is! Is it wrong that everyone was chuckling just a little when she started crying? I think the unanimous thing we all said at that time was “awwwwww, bless her heart”. Gotta love Southern exclamations! Here are just some of the images we captured of her cake smash session. Even got mom in a couple of them!
And here’s Miss K’s custom designed cake smash collage (LOVING the pink and green color combo here!):
Ok. It’s official. I have the most amazing, wonderful and meaningful job in the world! I get PAID to play with gorgeous little newborn bundles of love. How cool is that? Little baby Tucker was the youngest newborn I’ve done to date, coming in to the studio in Brunswick at just 4 days old for his newborn session. He was such a cutie, and not at all hard to work with. His parents and grandmother came with some great ideas to try out. While I have idea in my head for each session, I am absolutely always open to trying out other’s ideas as well; I mean, this is a custom newborn session, right? That means each session is different from someone elses. Little Tucker has absolutely gorgeous parents, so it was a no brainer that he would be so handsome as well! We did a variety of studio shots for his session as well as some outdoor newborn images. We got lucky and the rain held off JUST long enough for us to complete his session. This is one session in particular where I shot literally a TON of stunning images. It was so hard to cull his gallery down to a manageable size. Here are just some of the ones I liked best. I hope you enjoy them too and thank you for looking.
This little…err…I mean big newborn baby girl was the biggest newborn baby I’ve photographed yet. Weighing in at 9lbs even at birth, she was quite the chunky monkey! Adorable sweet fluffy cheeks and rolls everywhere. She was also a very content baby and very easy to work with. I must admit that I was quite nervous about this session, as it was my first time ever shooting a session with the newborn’s siblings in it also. But it really could not have gone better! This mom has some amazing children. They were wonderful to work with on Jekyll Island Beach during their family maternity session and pretty cool this time around also! They were very protective of “their baby” and helped to watch over her. This newborn’s grandmother had a special outfit made for her and it was beautiful…it just did fit. Like I said, she was my biggest newborn to date. And now, I must admit….I’m HOOKED on big babies! I could just love on those big squishy cheeks and rolls all day long. I honestly hated to see her go! It was so hard to narrow down some preview images for you all; she was such a super sleeper that essentially all of the images came out wonderfully. Here’s some of our faves:
And my absolutely favorite head on hands pose ever, I think, is below. I just LOVED how she did this HER way and added style to it….she wanted nothing to do with the traditional head on hands pose, lol!