Studio stuff

Why is professional photography so expensive?

May 21, 2024

Hi, I'm christine.
Hi there! Welcome to my blog. I'll talk about all things newborn, heirloom, milestone, and maternity photography here.
Learn more

This is a particularly interesting topic for me being that I’m a photographer and finding the right balance regarding pricing is something I’ve been struggling with for many years.

When I was first starting out as a newborn photographer, I had a small, one room studio in my house. I remember I had a few items I purchased from a photographer destash, a few props and a tiny tupperware box of about 4 newborn outfits. I was so excited to do it all! I wanted to be an expert on day 1, but I quickly realized that wasn’t going to happen overnight. I spent hours and hours studying you tube videos on wrapping and on Etsy searching for the perfect knits. It was a whole other world of photography I was obsessed with learning how to do. The photo below is of me in my first home studio.

I actually went to film school at USC and learned how to shoot a camera on film, very old school. When I lived in LA, I shot actor headshots, special events, corporate material but not babies. It wasn’t until I had babies of my own that I could actually appreciate it. When my son was born, I took him to a newborn photographer and I remember walking into her home studio (ie: converted garage) and my eyes were like saucers. I loved all the colored fabrics and textures. I was amazed at how she was able to pose him in ways I never knew how- it was such a specific specialty of photography. When I asked her where she learned to pose, she told me from a newborn workshop. So, after moving to Illinois and realizing I wanted to learn this type of posing, I took my first newborn workshop and from there I was hooked. This was back in 2015. As I’m typing this, I have been at this for 9 years! I’m in my 5th studio and I feel like I’ve seen it all, that is until the next newborn that comes into my studio will teach me I haven’t! lol.

I divert…. but this is my story. I’m no spring chicken when it comes to this field and unfortunately I still hit every single obstacle in the roadway especially when it comes to business. I used to think that once I’m better I can charge more. Then, I got better and moved to a studio location where I was too expensive for people in my area so I had to lower my prices. Then, I finally moved to my dream studio thinking finally I can charge my worth, but when I raised my prices I didn’t have enough clients to pay my higher overhead so I continued to float and just get by. After 3 years I had to move out of my dream space and downsize. It was a real big bummer. I wasn’t even sure I was going to continue but I love what I do so I sacrificed to make it work.

TIME is a really biggy. I have spent countless hours editing, marketing on facebook, creating Instagram reels, google business-ing, networking, educating myself, getting permits, purchasing materials and equipment, location scouting, driving… driving and driving to locations… just so I can have my business. Then, there’s the MONEY I have spent. I don’t think anyone would believe me if I told them the thousands and thousands of dollars I’ve spent since starting my business. I could have remodeled my entire house and my neighbor’s for the amount of money I’ve spent. There’s the props, outfits, accessories, equipment, software, editing programs, education, insurance, LLC, rent, utilities, professional services to help my business, painters, carpenters, signage, marketing materials, business tools and supplies. My accountant probably thinks I’m insane!

Last year, I was very slow due to the recession and it hit me hard. I’m just a one-woman show and I couldn’t take a paycheck for my time for about 6 months as I was only in business to pay for my business. I had to let go of the one part time assistant I had. Honestly, it sucked. I was spending all this time on my clients and their families bending over backwards and forwards for them and my own kids lost valuable time with their Mom. There was no balance as I got to busy season, I burned myself out to try and make up for a lousy year. So… this brings me back to the question of why is photography so expensive? I’ll try to break it down here:

Overhead includes: Studio Rent ($800- $1700 month), Utilities, Car expenses, Business Insurance, LLC renewal, Permits, Education courses ($300- $4000)- these types of courses include safety in posing as well as aesthetic reasons, shooting techniques, editing and business; Photography Accreditation Memberships, Taxes, Camera Equipment, Lighting Equipment, Computer equipment, Then, Updated Computer and Camera equipment, Editing software and tools, Paper backdrops ($75 one roll). Then, there’s the fun stuff like: Props ($50-$100 a piece), photography outfits ($55- $120 a piece), accessories ($25-$60 a piece), bonnets ($40-60 each), fabrics ($35-50 each), layers ($25-35 each), toys and tools for photography ($10- 35 each), Knit wraps: $60-$100 each, Maternity Dresses ($125-$500+ ), DIY balloon arch kits ($65 each), Printed Backdrops $120-$400 each, Print product samples, studio furniture and decor… the list goes on and on and it never seems to stop. These are just some of the costs associated with a photography (specifically newborn and baby) business.

I bring this to your attention so you’re aware the next time you consider asking for discount or haggling price with a quality photographer. And, know that when you decide to wear your own cheap version of an Amazon maternity dress instead of using the $500 high quality photo-ready one I got for you, that it breaks my heart just a little. When a small business photographer offers any sort of discount even 10% it’s HUGE to them! Most of the time we’re working for pennies compared to the amount of time and money put into our business and that little bit to earn your business is a lot less for them.

So, why do I do it? Well, that’s a multi layered answer. I continue working for a number of reasons… but mostly because it warms my heart when I receive responses from clients who become emotional when they see how much beauty there is when seeing themselves and their children’s interactions with each other. The heart tug when a new parent thanks me for capturing beautiful, lasting images of their newborn so small and tiny and they tear up because they know that they will never be this small again. When a Mom to be sees herself as a maternal goddess full of beauty and love and knows this moment is so temporary. To me, there is so much value in preserving our memories of and for our children so they have a reference to go back and look at their history and cherish memories of loved ones. I feel like I’m giving my clients the gift of preserving precious memories for them. It’s important work. However, there are a lot of people who don’t agree and don’t prioritize this and so it’s not worth it to them, but that’s okay- to each is own. They don’t regret getting those newborn photos done and spending the money because it’s not their priority and they didn’t actually get them so they don’t have those valuable moments in the first place. But, I have never heard of anyone actually getting professional photos done (especially newborn) by me or any other quality photographer and regretting it. It’s an investment in preserving your family’s history but it also supports an artist so passionate about doing this work that she sacrifices her own time and money for you. This art comes at a high price for all but to me it’s all worth it.

reader faves


browse by category




cake smashes



welome to my blog

I'm Christine and I'm so happy you're here. This blog a journal about newborn, milestone, heirloom and maternity photography. 

Learn more




The Clover club Wedding guide

Dolor mixtape food truck Austin, assumenda Odd Future Carles ani Echo Park cillum.