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January 3, 2022

How Much Should I Spend on Newborn or Family Photography?

The MEP Experience

Maternity and newborn images by Marie Elizabeth Photography

How much should I spend on newborn or family photography? When seeking a photographer for newborn or family photography, you may find a wide range of pricing from local photographers. Why the discrepancy? What affects these large jumps in pricing?

By the end of this article, you’ll know:

  • the average price of family and newborn photography
  • what determines the discrepancy in photographer prices
  • if you’re paying too much or too little for photography services
  • what YOU value in your photographer
  • average DC-area pricing for newborn and family photography

First, let’s look at the average price of family and newborn photography.

Mother sits and nurses her young daughter at the Lincoln Memorial in DC

Average Pricing for Newborn and Family Photography

You probably guessed it – there is not an exact “average” for a family or newborn photographer. A LOT goes into the pricing of any photography package.

The first thing you need to do is determine what you value most when it comes to photographs.

  • Do you want one simple picture of everyone looking at the camera?
  • Do you want tiny details and connection documented?
  • Do you prefer the look of film for a nostalgic feel?
  • Do you want a specialist who is accustomed to working with small children and/or newborn babies?
  • Do you want your photographer helping you figure out wardrobe?
  • Do you want your photographer to provide wardrobe?
  • Do you want your photographer to provide albums and wall art so you don’t need to do it yourself?
  • Do you want superior quality albums and wall art to last?
  • Do you want your photographer guiding you through the process?
  • Do you want to FEEL something after your photography experience?

I could probably continue on. What is most important to you? Once you determine what it is that you value, it is then that we can start looking at a few different average ranges for family and newborn pricing based on what you value.

Maternity and newborn portraits by Marie Elizabeth Photography

$99-$250 | Beginner

  • This is definitely a beginner or amateur range for photography services, and many photographers (including myself) begin in this range.
  • They might lack the experience of working with little kids or newborns during sessions, meaning – when your kids start becoming rambunctious, they may not have too many strategies learned yet.
  • They likely do not have much to provide you when it comes to session preparation, maybe a PDF at best.
  • They may still be learning the most flattering poses for families.
  • They likely don’t have a consistent style yet.
  • They likely do not provide products.
  • They may be the perfect fit for someone who just wants pictures in a short time frame.

$250-$500 | Amateur

  • You’ll likely find photographers who have been in business for 1-3 years in this range, so although they have more experience than a beginner, they are still learning a lot.
  • Posing may not appear natural and organic yet.
  • They likely are still developing skills on working with toddlers.
  • They likely do not provide wardrobe or have minimal wardrobe consultation.
  • They are likely still working on honing in on their style.
  • They likely do not provide products.
  • May be perfect if you want one picture of everyone looking at the camera.
Mother gives her toddler daughter a nose nuzzle while carrying her during their family session at the Howard County Conservancy

$600-$1100 | Middle Tier Professional

  • They likely have an established style.
  • They may work full-time but are overworked.
  • They may or may not provide wardrobe and likely have some form of wardrobe consultation.
  • They likely do not provide products.

$1200+ (starting price may range from $1200-$2500) | Luxury

  • They have ample photography and business experience.
  • They likely only work with young children and newborns.
  • They may photograph with film.
  • They likely provide a high-touch experience (i.e. planning consultation, welcome box, art reveal).
  • They likely offer some form of products (i.e. albums, wall art).
  • They likely offer wardrobe or wardrobe consultation.
  • They likely run their business full-time.
  • They are likely well-known in their market.
  • They deliver high-quality, consistent results.
  • They may own a studio.

Northern VA maternity studio session

So what is the average price for a family and newborn photographer?

Now that you’ve seen that a photographer can average between $99-$2500 per session, determine what you value most in your photography experience to base your answer. If you value a film photographer, they will likely run in the luxury category (if they don’t, they likely are not making much profit per session since film is quite costly). Do you want your photographer to design an album or plan out your session with you? You are likely looking at the luxury level. Do you want one cookie-cutter photo with a quick turnaround for Christmas cards? A beginner or amateur may be your best bet. You can read more on how to choose your newborn photographer here.

Mother sits with her babies in a garden

Other factors that can affect photography pricing:

Location

Your location can play a significant factor in starting prices for a photographer. For example, the starting price of a middle-tier photographer in rural Maryland may be $500, compared to $750 in Washington, D.C.

The DC-area definitely runs in the higher end of the ranges listed above. This is due to higher cost-of-living, higher demand, and more resources.

Family sits in front of the reflecting pool in DC facing the Washington Monument

Expertise

Everyone wants their photographer to be a “professional,” but many people don’t really understand what that entails. Below are some factors that influence expertise:

  • Business skills – this one may not appear obvious, but having a photographer with strong business skills delivers consistent results. For example, providing a client management system will ensure all clients have a similar experience.
  • Actual photography skills – Does your photographer understand light completely? Will they help with location and timing to produce the best possible results for you?
  • Connection and relationships – you likely want a photographer who makes you feel comfortable and confident in front of the camera. Do you want a photographer who is highly skilled at working with small children? Or, even better, a photographer who will help you plan for your session with young kids so you don’t enter your session worried?
  • Location – will your photographer scout out any new locations in advance to accurately understand the light so they can focus solely on you and your family during the session? Does your photographer have a list of their favorite locations to photograph at?

Mother and daughter walk together during their motherhood session in Washington DC

Summary

In conclusion, there is not a “one size fits all” average price for newborn and family photography. You typically get what you pay for, so the real decision is figuring out what you want to pay for.

The most important thing is for you to determine what it is you value the most in your photography experience and then find the photographer that is best for you! Read more about the value of a portrait experience here.

Marie Elizabeth Photography is a luxury portrait photographer specializing in newborn, maternity, and family photography based out of Northern Va, Washington DC, and Maryland. She provides a custom client experience, from planning every detail of your session to assisting you in displaying your photographs to cherish for years to come.

Marie photographs in the city of DC, as well as the surrounding suburbs of Northern VA including Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax, Loudoun County, Vienna, and McLean. She also photographs in the Maryland suburbs of Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Potomac, and more. She will travel outside the Washington DC area for a small fee.

Marie specializes and is recognized for superior quality as:

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