Why is newborn photography so expensive?

This is an old blog post from ages ago, but I thought it was time to bring it back. Interestingly enough, one of the “portrait studios” mentioned below has also closed all locations.


Here’s a question I saw in my newsfeed recently: Why are photographers who specialize in newborn photography so much more expensive than say, Picture People or Portrait Innovations? They basically do the same thing….right?

Is the “photographer” at Picture People going to spend 2-4 hours with you in an 80-85 degree studio, perfecting every shot, soothing your baby to sleep themselves, urging you to take this time to rest, and then laugh when your baby pees in their lap 3 times. When they spring to CATCH your baby’s poop in their hand in order to save the setup that they have very carefully styled to your preferences, will they shrug their shoulders and say “It’s part of the job!”, with a smile on their face? After your session is over, are they going to spend hours retouching each image, correcting baby acne, and ensuring that each image is perfect?

gettysburg pa newborn photographer

The answer is no, in case you aren’t positive. Chain studios rely on business volume to survive, scheduling very short back to back sessions, and luring you in with $7.99 portrait packages. Some of their employees may be actual photographers who are working to make extra money, but the majority of them are only trained on how to use the camera (which often does not, or is unable to leave the tripod that it is mounted on). Their editing might involve slapping a terrible vignette on a few photos, and turning a couple to sepia or a muddy black and white. The employees simply aren’t given the creative freedom or tools to do more than that. Many of these places are now closing rapidly, by the way. Check out Sears Portrait Studios and Walmart’s PictureMe Studios. They are closed.

The worth of a newborn photographer goes even further beyond what we do during the average session, to the crazy amount of money that we put into props, the hours that we spend editing each session, to the time and money that we invest into continuously improving ourselves. For those of us who run a legitimate business, roughly 30-40% of every dollar that comes in goes to taxes (the joys of being self employed!), and a great portion of what we have left is what goes to pay for insurance, education, props, equipment, marketing, and the list goes on. After all of that, don’t we deserve to bring in an actual salary, just like any person with a career should?

Not everyone has it in their budget to choose a custom newborn photographer because yes, it is expensive. Mall chain studios are there for those who can’t afford to pay a whole lot, or for those whose lifestyle demands a quick walk in and walk out appointment. Just make sure that you educate yourself on what to expect. I promise you that if you can swing it, you will get so much more out of booking a professional custom photographer!



Stacey Gillin is a Gettysburg PA maternity, newborn, and baby, photographer who provides photography services in her Gettysburg PA photography studio. She regularly has clients come from Hanover PA, Mechanicsburg PA, Harrisburg PA, York PA, Carlisle PA, Frederick MD, Gaithersburg MD, Westminster MD, Baltimore MD, Washington DC, and everywhere around and in between! While newborn baby photography is her specialty, she is thrilled to continue photographing your family as it grows! Contact her at or by phone at 717-253-8360.

stacey gillin photography

Serving PA, MD, DC, VA

Stacey gillin photography

Serving PA, MD, DC, VA