If you have ever searched for a local family or newborn photographer, you know that the options can feel overwhelming. There are so many options in a city like Cincinnati, and when searching it can feel overwhelming to consider all the different photographers and their style, ability, and fit with your family.
Today I want to dive into a subject that may feel a bit taboo to talk about openly…how much photographers charge. It’s no secret that photographers vary quite a bit in what they charge for a session, and it can feel confusing for families as to why the cost can vary so much.
So today I’m going to dive into three different types of photography businesses and explain why they vary so much, so you can make the decision as to what is the best fit for your family.
One thing I love about photography is that the barrier to entry is so low–anyone can buy a cheap camera to start out and discover a whole new talent and passion (that’s what I did, and it changed my life!). One of the struggles with this, though, is that many people quickly start businesses, without fully evaluating their costs of operating, understanding what it will take to be profitable, or even setting up a legal business.
This results in a high volume business. A high volume photography business is casually called “shoot and burn” because it requires the photographer to shoot so many sessions to make ends meet that they quickly burn out. You may be encountering a shoot and burn business if the session is under $500 and it includes all digital images. In our area, we have a lot of businesses operating under this model, and most are not legal businesses who pay taxes or have business insurance (definitely something you should ask about!).
These sessions typically have smaller price tags, and you can expect less communication with the photographer. These sessions do not come with the experience a more luxury business can offer, such as styling assistance, access to premium print products that last a lifetime, and you can expect your photographer to spend less time editing your session or guiding you through the process of getting images off your screens and onto your walls. You can also expect that this photographer’s pricing will continually creep up (or jump up dramatically) over time as they recognize how little they are actually making from their business compared to the extreme amount of work they’re putting in, if they decide to raise their prices rather than give up their business altogether.
If shoot and burn is at one end of the spectrum of luxury, in-person sales (IPS) is at the other. This photography business specializes heavily in a high-end experience with a very experienced photographer who specializes in offering professional printed products.
You know you’ve found an IPS photographer if they talk about an ordering session or reveal following your session. This is an in-person or zoom meeting with your photographer, where they will show you the images from your session, and then you will select your package and products right then and there with the photographer. The photographer is an expert on the products they offer, so they will present lots of options and walk you through the process of ordering. Some people love this experience, and some people really dislike the idea of choosing their collection in a short time period with the photographer present.
With this type of photographer, you can expect to spend between $1000-$3000 (or more), depending on the print products and packages you choose. The focus is heavily on prints, so you may not get any digital images (or very few). The photographer is spending lots of time with you, so you can expect a lot of attention and a higher level of experience.
This is where I fall on the spectrum. Neither “shoot and burn” or IPS are for me for a variety of reasons, so I have found a system that works for my clients that is in the middle. My clients deserve a personalized experience that includes styling assistance, access to my client closet, pre-session consultations, and a curated selection of fine art, imported print products, which photographers who use a “shoot and burn” model can’t offer.
At the same time, as much as I love my clients, most don’t have the time to spend with me for a whole evening viewing their prints and ordering their images. Instead, I have a model that works like this:
My clients reserve their session with a session fee. After I’ve carefully curated their gallery and hand-edited their final images, I send a beautiful slideshow set to music. Client get to view in the comfort of their own home (without me there!), and select the collection that works best for their family. Each gallery has three collection option, which includes varying amounts of digital images and print credit to use in my online store. In my store I have carefully-selected fine art products I import from Europe. Clients can shop at their leisure, select their images, and I deliver the final product to their doorstep. Most of my clients invest between $800-$1500 in their session.
This luxury experience is flexible for families’ busy schedule, but also really focuses on what matters most: preserving memories in a way that is meaningful and lasting.
….So there you have it…the three main types of family and newborn photography businesses in Cincinnati! With so many options to choose from, hopefully this narrows down your search and helps you find an option that is right for your family. If you’d like to chat more about preserving your memories with a Little Bug session, you can reach out here.