This is one of the first questions many parents have as they start looking for a photographer for their newborn’s portraits. There are many photographers out there, and I believe there’s a photographer for everyone. I can’t give you a specific number, as there’s a very wide range of pricing out there, but here is a general idea of what you can expect to pay for different levels of photography. Then we’ll discuss the 8 factors that go into newborn portrait session costs.
$95 – 300 The Beginning Photographer
There is nothing wrong with this! Every photographer you’ve ever met had to begin somewhere, and we’re all VERY grateful for the clients who let us learn while doing their portraits. We all had GREAT sessions in our beginning years, and we all had sessions we’re deeply embarrassed by. But this can be a good way to save money if you just don’t have the budget for an experienced photographer.
- Super cheap sessions
- Can turn out great
- Supporting a brand new photographer
- May cost more if you decide you need a re-do
- Might not have a chance for a do-over (depending on session type)
- Might not get what you expect
- Equipment may not be top quality, so pictures may not be top quality
- Not as many props/luxuries available
- Not as experienced in posing
$300 – 600 The Budding Photographer
These photographers have advanced past the beginner stage, and generally have more consistent work. They have more experience with photographing in different situations and in posing, and are beginning to build their prop collection and are investing in better equipment. These photographers are a great option for those who are budget-conscious but who want a more reliable outcome from their sessions. They aren’t likely focused on the experience as much as getting you in, out, and sending you over some files- but if that’s all you’re looking for this may be the perfect fit for you!
- Generally Affordable
- Should be able to provide your expected outcome
- Should have a consistent history (like a website or instagram page with a good number of examples of work)
- Better equipment likely means better picture quality
- Experience with posing and different lighting situations
- Likely don’t give access to print products
- Posing is still coming along, less experience with more difficult clients (such as children)
- Probably don’t provide extra luxuries like wardrobe or many props
- May not have an organized system for clients, meaning clients need to be more proactive about keeping track of documentation like payments, contracts, etc.
$600 – 1000 The Luxury Photographer
These photographers have typically been in business for several years and have ironed out the wrinkles that come with starting out. They’re more likely to be focused on providing an excellent experience from start to finish, and find ways to make every step of the photography process simple and enjoyable. These photographers are the perfect option for clients who value the portrait experience and want to end up with heirloom products to keep and to share.
- Luxury experience
- Simple process for clients
- Clients should end up with exactly what they expect, no surprises
- Photographers usually provide extras like client closets and props
- Photographers should be using the best equipment, giving you the best picture quality
- Clients can expect access to high quality portrait products through labs that work exclusively with photographers
- More expensive (may not be in budget)
- May charge extra for digital files
- May be in high demand, requiring advance planning
$1000 – 3000 The Ultra Luxury Photographer
These photographers are the best of the best, and are well known around the country (or the world) as newborn photographers. They likely teach courses to other photographers and are focused on providing the very best experience from start to finish. These photographers are perfect for high spending clients who want extra luxurious products for their home.
- Ultra luxury experience
- Hold client’s hands through every step of the process
- Clients can expect the very best portraits
- Photographers provide extras like client closets and props
- Photographers should be using the best equipment, giving you the best picture quality
- Clients can expect access to the best quality portrait products through labs that work exclusively with photographers
- Often give luxury client gifts to big spenders
- Most expensive (may not be in budget)
- Do not give digital files (or charge very high prices for digital files)
- Can expect to pay thousands of dollars on products after the session
8 Factors in Newborn Portrait Session Costs:
#1 Education and Experience
Newborn photography takes education beyond how to use your camera and how to take pretty pictures. So many elements of newborn photography are unique to these very specific sessions within baby’s first few weeks of life. Styling these setups to help baby stay safe and comfortable while getting that perfect angle- keeping baby soothed and happy- learning to wrap baby and get perfect lighting.
#2 What is Included in Your Package
I would consider this to be the second most important consideration when comparing the prices of portrait packages. While you may think there is a standard newborn portrait package, it actually can vary greatly from photographer to photographer. There are two main package types when it comes to photography- photographers who give only the digital files, and photographers who give final portrait products. There are also photographers, like me, who fall somewhere in between these two categories, giving their clients a limited number of digital files as well as providing portrait products.
Make sure you know exactly what is included in your package in order to compare. Does the fee include your portraits? Is there a separate sitting fee? What other perks (like maybe a client closet) are included?
#3 Props, Props and More Props
Photography props can make a session a lot more fun! Photographers have access to specialized groups that create these props specifically for the littlest babies. Newborn (and other photography) props are made to look good not only in real life, but also in the end photography product. Props are expensive, but make a big difference in photos and can help you get a better variety of portraits.
Typically more experienced and higher priced photographers will have better prop selections than photographers who are just starting out. This is an area where you can save a little bit of money if budget is a high priority. Lifestyle newborn photographers tend to be less expensive, as they don’t use many (or any) props and instead rely on your own home to act as their studio.
Does nice equipment make a good photographer? No. But it does help to make sure your pictures are clear, crisp, and consistent. This includes high quality camera and lenses, studio lighting, and a calibrated computer monitor specifically made with photographers in mind. These help your photographer provide you with portraits with consistent and beautiful color, and quality files that you can enlarge for the walls of your home.
Have you ever tried to enlarge a photo from your cell phone? While our phone cameras keep getting better and better, most phones still aren’t capable of taking photos that can be printed in large sizes without looking like a grainy mess. This is why you want a photographer with the right kind of equipment (and the right skills to know how to use it!)
#5 Studio Space
Studio Space is another big variable that goes into the cost of your newborn photographer. It’s common that the most expensive newborn photographers will have a dedicated store front location. This makes them easier to find, and makes for a luxury experience. If this kind of experience and location is important to you, it will likely come at a cost. Photographers have to pay a good deal of overhead for these prime locations.
The other two types of studio space are Home Studios and Traveling Photographers. Home Studios, while they don’t offer the luxury of Storefront Studios, can often be very nice and come in a wide variety of types, from a photographers living space to dedicated studio space. Traveling photographers often do Lifestyle Sessions, using the client’s home space for portraits.
This is my Home Studio… I LOVE having this cozy, quiet space for client to bring their babies. It allows me to have all of my props and accessories close at hand during the session, and to keep my lighting and color consistent for photos. It’s also a great place to show off all of the fun ways clients can display their prints in their home. This space was a big investment but definitely worth it to provide the kind of experience I love to give my clients.
#6 Product Availability
Are you interested in purchasing portrait products following your session? Luxury Newborn Photographers will be able to give you access to the best photo labs around the country. These labs work specifically with photographers, and so if you’re looking for high quality photo products, having a photographer that can get you access to these will be worth the investment.
My sessions are designed for families who want to display their portraits in their home, and I make sure to provide examples of all of the fun print products I have available. One added bonus of hiring a photographer that constantly prints products is that these photographers are sure to have programs that ensure your portraits color and exposure are correct for printing.
Budget-conscious clients may not be interested in printing heirloom products, and so finding a photographer who will give you digital portraits to save on your computer may be your priority. These photographers may charge less for their sessions, as they don’t have to cover the cost of samples and making sure your products are up to expectations.
#7 Keeping Things Simple (and Organized)
Luxury photographers often have Client Organization Systems to keep everything simple and organized for their clients. These keep track of everything from client communications and education, to payments and contracts. This allows everything to be in one place, easily accessible for you and for your photographer. As a client, this means you’ll likely get reminders about upcoming appointments and invoices, and will be able to look over contracts and fill out any questionnaires relating to your session in one place.
Having used a system like this as a photographer, and also having used one as a client, I think they are the WAY TO GO. I have way too many things to keep track of without having to remember when invoices will be due, and I love getting reminders as deadlines and dates are approaching.
At the end of the day, your portrait session is a work of ART. There are so many elements that combine to create the portrait you end up seeing in your gallery. It’s hard to place a monetary value on this, but I can tell you that each photographer you meet puts significant time into practicing their craft, just as any other artist. I’m constantly looking for new ideas and connecting with other photographers to find ways to bring you beautiful portraits that you will love.
The most important thing as a client is to find a photographer with an art style you love- and to make sure they consistently create that kind of work. Nothing is more frustrating than having a client come and ask me (a posed newborn photographer) for a completely unposed session. Make sure you find someone who specializes in what you love!