Are you thinking of becoming a baby photographer? I totally get it. I was in your shoes 7 years ago. The allure of becoming a baby photographer is huge…
– flexible work hours
– the ability to balance being a Mum & having a career
– spending time cuddling gorgeous babies
– earning a living from something you love doing
But if you’re considering taking the plunge and becoming a professional baby photographer. I hate to break it to you. It’s not all roses.
Building a successful baby photography business can be really hard. I would even argue that it’s harder now than ever before. Certainly, when I first started almost 7 years ago I don’t recall the same struggles that there are now in 2018.
I hate to burst your bubble but the numbers aren’t pretty…
95% of photography businesses fail within the first 5 years! Yes. You read the number right. As shocking as it is, it’s important that you understand this if you are considering this as a career change.
Why do they fail? I would argue that this figure has a lot to do with people not charging enough for their work.
The explosion of online photography education….
The number of new baby photographers that have started out in the last 3-4 years is absolutely staggering. In my opinion, this is largely due to the absolute saturation of online courses, workshops and tutorials in the baby photography market over that time. Just about everyone is now offering workshops, tutorials and more. What used to take years of practice, trial and error, and thousands of dollars in in-person workshops, can now be learned in the space of only a few days and only $100 online. What I wouldn’t have given to have had the amount of online resources available to me when I was first starting out!
Whilst this is all great at face value. I can’t help but feel that the negative of the widespread access to all of this low-cost learning, is an enormous number of people becoming baby photographers. Of course, in economic terms this means an over-supply of photographers, and a dilution of the value of what we as photographers are able to charge.
Many people when they first start up, charge very little for their work. I know that I was in this position when I first started. I think when someone is still learning, and their work is not yet of a high standard, this isn’t necessarily a problem. What I do feel is a problem though, is that there are some photographers who aren’t charging what they should when their work is really really good! Potential clients are overwhelmed with the number of baby photographers available to them. Of course, they’re going to find the cheapest photographer available.
Inevitably, these cheap photographers can’t stay cheap forever. They’re either going to go broke (or discover that working at McDonalds for minimum wage they’ll actually earn more for the amount of hours they put in to a session), or they’ll have to increase their prices to make a sustainable business. But… there is always another person with a shiny new DSLR equipped with the knowledge from the latest online workshop just waiting to take their place in the “$100 for all the digital files” game. And so it continues….
Do your numbers
If you’re thinking about becoming a baby photographer. Please think long and hard about this decision. Do you really want to make this a business that earns a decent living and contributes to your household income? Or do you just want to keep photography as a fun hobby and take photos for family and friends? If it’s the first option, then you need to be prepared for the hard yards. Get serious about becoming a great photographer and charge what you’re worth.
Find out what other photographers at your level are charging in your area and don’t undercut them. Work out how much money you need to earn a year (minus tax and the cost of doing business/equipment/insurance etc), divide that number by the number of sessions you can do a year, and you’ll find your minimum profit per session that you have to make. If it’s anything less than $500 per session, you may as well go get that job at McDonalds.
Do the numbers. All photographers deserve better.