You get what you pay for. We've all heard this phrase and 99.9% of the time it's extremely accurate. This is especially true for all types of art forms, including photography.
When I first started out I did plenty of gigs for free... Why? Because I had NO idea what I was doing (well, a little but not enough to actually charge someone). My kids had begun to hate when I pulled out my camera, they were tired of being my models and my pets became uninterested in the treats I was offering to just 'sit still for a second'. I needed a wide range of different people to get experience and develop the holy grail of photography.. my portfolio. Besides, nobody wants to view a portfolio of the same kids over and over again (or an overly annoyed chihuahua and a cat with a death wish for you). Also, I got to practice, practice, practice. Yes, some of my earlier work was great and I still LOVE a lot of the ones with my kids but there are also a lot that were quite cringe worthy (and if you dig far enough back through my facebook page you will find them)! The point is, I learned from them and corrected my mistakes and developed consistency.
My very early work: My annoyed Chihuahua
My cat Lucy, who has since passed:
I'm not going to get into exactly how much all of my equipment and props cost but I will tell you.. It's EXPENSIVE! It's never ending, there will always be bigger and better things to improve your photography and the props (I love props!).. especially with newborn photography, you can't shoot the same thing over and over. Each session takes a lot more time than the actual shooting of it. I plan, research and spend way too much time editing to get it right. There's also marketing, editing programs, website costs, products and ongoing education to pay for but I won't bore you to death with all of the details of those expenses.
Honing my photography skills took a long time. As I gained confidence and experience I built from my free shoots to charging a little more, then more, and then more. I began to really know what I was doing. I am not saying I know it all now (I DON'T), but I know enough to create and photograph my vision with consistency. I worked HARD to get where I am today, I have definitely put in my time and paid my dues.
Maybe you're thinking... Well, Uncle Johnny takes wonderful landscape photography. Great! If you need some landscape photography hire Uncle Johnny but DON'T hire him for your newborn session! Specializing in a certain form of photography means just that. I know some very experienced photographers that take beautiful wedding photos, or portraits, or glamour shots, or landscapes, etc.. but couldn't take a GREAT newborn portrait to save their life (nor do they want to). Each niche of photography is a special art form and they all differ. You want to hire me for wedding photography??? NOPE, not my specialty. I could do better than just someone off the street but I'd rather you invest in someone who knows what they're doing and won't miss the most important shots.
I suppose my whole point of this blog post is that.. when you have something extremely important to you that you want photographed/documented it is WORTH the investment you are making. In my opinion, it is worth EVERY SINGLE PENNY! Especially when it comes to maternity and newborn photography (and wedding, I know some fantastic photographers to refer you to!), these are all fleeting moments and something you can never get back. If you simply want snapshots.. yes, you can find someone on Craigslist that will do it for $50. It's a risk and if you are willing to take it - go for it. But typically.. you get what you pay for.