Why is Birth Photography so Expensive? Part I: Vision + Skill
Lately, I've been seeing a new crop of comments about the high price point for birth photography. First, I want to note that the on-call lifestyle that comes with this work is THE primary factor for the high price, followed by (for many of us) the inability to book more than a certain number of births per month. I will write a more in-depth post about this at a later date, but today I want to focus on the third notable factor: VISION + SKILL.
I understand that it's easy to fall into the trap of believing that your photographer shows up, pushes a button, and then delivers you a gallery. Seems simple and straight forward enough, right? For most artists though, this couldn't be farther from the truth. More often than not, the bulk of the work exists not in showing up and documenting your birth, but in the selection and post processing of your gallery. The development of the vision and the skill that's required to do this takes many YEARS to cultivate—it simply isn't something that happens overnight. It's a constant, ever-present process of learning and refining, learning and refining.
What does this even mean? I'm going to show you a couple of examples... Keep in mind that not every image gets this much attention or NEEDS this kind of extensive editing. But occasionally, when looking at a raw file, what exists in the frame and what you see as the final product are not one in the same. This is the vision, which is most obvious in this first image. I loved this moment, especially the details and the movement... the way mom is holding her new babe, her ring, the vernix, baby's tiny bum, the small reflections of light in the water... but I didn't like the distracting elements of the hands on the edge of the tub and reaching into the water, the interior handle, or the shadow in the upper right corner. Through cropping, cloning, filling, and healing (in addition to normal edits to exposure, white balance, color and contrast) I was able to create something worthy of display.
In this second example, the adjustments were more minor, but still impactful. When looking at the original image, I found the background elements pulled my eye away from the subject I wanted the focus to stay on: mama's embrace and baby. Since I didn't feel like those things added to the story anyway, removing them was a no brainer for me, and changed the whole feel of this image.
So if birth photography isn't in the budget for your family, or if having images from your birth isn't a priority to you, that's completely understandable! Just don't lose sight of the value in hiring a professional, it's present in many, many ways. And if you're anxiously awaiting the delivery of your final gallery, be patient! It's probably worth the wait. 😉