This morning, like every morning, I browsed through facebook and saw a post on a mom’s group where a mom-to-be was looking for a professional photographer. I’m often tagged in these posts. They’re always the same…”looking for a professional to take pictures, reasonably priced” or “need someone to take newborn pictures, budget is $100.” But this one was different. She went on a rant about how exorbitantly priced newborn portraiture is, and how she’s shocked artists charge what they do, implying that they don’t deserve to earn that kind of money because they didn’t go to grad school (which in fact, I did!). Now, I don’t normally comment on these posts. But this time, I simply wanted to educate her. I just wanted her to try to see it from a photographer’s perspective.
This is what I said:
“There’s an art to newborn photography and all good photography, really. It’s not just the photo session that you’re paying for. It’s the hours spent before, designing a session tailored to your vision. Then comes the 4-hour session where your baby is patiently lulled to sleep and safely posed by a trained professional. Later, there’s about 10+ hours of culling, editing, and prepping those images for the big reveal. Then, it’s the time and energy spent with you choosing the perfect heirloom art pieces for your home and to pass down to your children when they’re older. The photographer still has to spend more time preparing the files to ensure they’re perfect when printed out on archival materials to the requested size.
Artists don’t pocket all that money. And because they’re self-employed and have to pay tons of taxes, about 1/3 of profits (yes, that’s AFTER we pay for your products) automatically go to Uncle Sam. Then there are all the costs of running a business–liability, equipment, and health insurance, subscriptions to software, professional dues, maintaining and replacing thousands of dollars worth of equipment, backing up files so your memories are never lost, etc. I want you to remember that you’re not paying for the files “that cost nothing” or the 8×10 that costs $5-10 to produce. You’re paying for years of experience and expertise. You’re paying for the very best portraits of this little person who’s going to change your life forever.
There’s a huge difference between a professional artist and a hospital/ picture people employee/$100-for-the-CD photographer. But if you can’t see that difference, then by all means, go that route.
I don’t usually comment on these posts, but I hear this all the time. It pains me to see how little people value art anymore. I’ll leave you with something to think about. In 30 years, the professionally printed portraits of your children will probably be one of your most valuable possessions. If that’s not worth more than $500, I don’t know what is.”
You can guess what happened. My words fell on deaf ears. Sometimes people are not interested in seeing it from a different perspective. But on the brighter side, many other moms supported my sentiments (and those of many Los Angeles photographers who commented). It’s always nice to know that there are some people who still value beautiful portraits of their loved ones. These are my clients and I will continue to offer them the once in a lifetime opportunity to artfully capture a time that will never come again.