How much should you spend on family photography? (The Cost vs. Value debate)

July 4, 2022

I’m a photographer of over 12 years and I wonder, much like yourself, how much should you, or anyone, spend on family photography? I’m gonna give you my best interpretative answer.

One of the #1 concerns that clients have when looking to purchase a service such as family photography is the cost. I believe that you should spend as much on family photography as it is important to you and as much as you value it. Essentially, if you value family, family connections, and the relationships they create, then family photography should be a high- valued service at the top of your list. The costs you are willing to pay is relative to what you value. 

If you’d like hardcore statistics, visit Fash. If you’d like to get a little deeper clarification into the “Value vs. Cost” chat, please keep reading.

Value Vs. Cost

First, let’s define the difference between cost and value. Cost is simply what is paid for a product or service. Value is the worth that the product or service has. So what does this mean? To truly evaluate value, an understanding deeper than cost needs to be looked at. Let me give you an example using shoes to put it in perspective.

 If you were interested in purchasing a pair of shoes that you want to last for over 10 years- you would be looking for something with good quality. You would also expect that with good quality, comes good comfort. You may also expect that it is stylish. As an extra bonus, you may want all your friends to compliment you on your shoes and even on your choices of good fashion.

How much would you expect to pay for those pair of shoes that offer so many benefits, or value, to you? Would you expect to pay “Payless Shoes” prices for something you need to last for 10 years with all the bells and whistles, or would you be willing to pay quite a bit more for shoes that do have the comfortability, and the style, and the durability, and that may get complimented on. The latter example is your value. The value reflects the cost.

Daughter hugging mother from behind

Whether you feel the cost is justified by the value it brings you is absolutely your decision and that decision is usually impacted by a few factors.

What is a fair price to spend for family photography?

Going back to what I said in the introduction, you will only spend as much as you value. Let’s go back to the shoes example. The shoes that you know will last you for 10 years will not need to be replaced for a very long time and you can wear them to countless events. In your eyes they are very valuable and they come with a $400 price tag.

But the cost may be completely justified to you because of the value it brings you. So, it may be fair to spend $400.00. Bringing it back to family photography, if the pictures bring you a sense of joy and togetherness and quality time and the experience is enjoyable, and the pictures can document the relationships between you and the other person and the legacy that you will be leaving behind, then the cost may, and often will, be justified.

But what if it’s not. What if you cannot imagine paying that much? It’s uncomfortable to even think about that because it really isn’t that important to you? That can very well be traced back to what you saw your parents spend when you were younger. It could also be a value priority – Maybe you value something more than spending a day with the family and creating memories. Maybe you do want the experience of a family photoshoot, but the budget will not allow it currently. I just want to encourage you that whatever your reason is, you don’t need to feel guilty for it. It is what it is. Some people feel it is extremely important to capture family moments professionally and some feel it’s fine with their cell phone. No right or wrong choice.

Daughter hugging mother from behind.

So, what is a fair price to spend? The fair price is 100% relative to your experiences and how you grew up, how you saw your parents handle money, and how much money you have to spend in relation to how much you value it!

Why does it cost that much?

I can write a whole paragraph on the technical reasons why family photography costs what it costs and you probably wouldn’t care. After all, the life that we photographers want to live and the things that we need to buy should not impact how much you pay, right?

RIGHT!!!

I often hear photographers explaining to their clients that “I have overhead and I have bills to pay and I have to charge this because I need better equipment to give you a better experience.”  While all that is true, that does not really drive home (at least in the potential clients eyes) why a family photography session would cost what it costs. None of the above examples benefit you in any way, shape, or form. In fact, you’re probably thinking, “…so, I’m paying extra so you can get a new camera?!”

What does benefit you however, is the feeling you may get from experiencing your loved ones’ portraits on the wall; or the joy you experience when sitting at your work desk and you glance over at the 8 x 12 framed image of you and your son/ daughter sharing a heartfelt smile sitting on your desk ; Or even the benefit of you being able to show your recently graduated 18 year old what they looked like when they were 5 and how proud you are too witness them now as a young adult. Those are the real reasons why family photography costs what it does.

Additionally, professional images in print will last exceptionally longer than 10 years! They will outlive you and last for the next 4 to 5 generations!

Family of 4 with linked arms walking and enjoying time together

The question is, what is that worth to you?

What is included in a Family Photography package?

There are two types of packages. Some packages cover the photographer’s shooting and editing time, make up if needed, travel, and location if needed while the products are charged a la carte. The products vary, with the most popular being wall art and albums. Each individual photographer offers different a la carte items based on their brand and style of photography. These packages are usually lower costs upfront because you are only paying for time, makeup, travel, etc. The upside of this is that you select and purchase only the images that you love. This could be a huge benefit to you. This is the type of package I use. For example:

Non refundable session fee of $340.00 or $490 (W/ Hair and Makeup)

Then, each piece of wall art, album, or keepsake/ gift is available to you to choose from and purchase. For example…

Standouts

Large (Up to 36 in) | 664.00 
Medium (Up to 30 in) | 524.00
Small (Up to 20 in) | 351.00
Mini (Up to 10 in) | 174.00

Metal Prints

Large (Up to 48 in) | 1194.00

Medium (Up to 30 in) | 690.00

Small (Up to 24 in) | 397.00

Mini (Up to 12 in) | 139.00

The other packages include all inclusive packages. These packages tend to be higher cost upfront and can include printed products, but not usually. The thing about an all inclusive package is, you may not need or want everything in the package and may feel that you are paying for something you don’t want. Usually all- inclusive packages have little wiggle room.

Here’s an example of an all-inclusive package:

The Vintage Collection | $700

75 min Session

30 retouched Images

30- Day Online gallery

High Resolution Digital Files

Unrestricted Printing Rights

Is professional photography worth the cost? Or is it better to buy and learn how to use a camera myself?

Here’s the good news. Family photography is not a one time deal as a wedding is. Can you learn how to take family portraits yourself? Yes. The question becomes, do you have time in your schedule to devote to learning it? Unless you are really serious about the hobby of photography, I would strongly suggest that the amount of time and effort that has been taken to learn the craft of photography should be left to those that are all- in! They are completely passionate about it, have invested years of time, energy, and money in education, and through the education, have the know- how to not just create nice images, but of how to create emotive and meaningful portraits.

Mother and Son sharing a heartfelt smile.

A photographer goes to a dinner party. The host says, “I love your photos, you must have a fantastic camera”. He replies, “Why thank you. You know, your food is amazing too, where did you get that oven?”

Unknown source

As in the quote above, the chef, has spent years learning and perfecting their craft, and the photographer also, and it is not the camera (nor the oven) that creates the spectacular final product.

Your turn

I hope this article has given just a little more insight into the world of photography and perhaps gave some helpful information to assist you in making a decision of whether you should move forward in finding a family photographer to create and capture your timeless memories. You may request more information here if you’d like to book a session with me.

I’d love to hear what you thought of this article- let me know in the comments below.


Related Link:

Why family portraits are important to family values


Hello. I’m Damon and I specialize in wedding and family photography in Washington DC. I focus on creating authentic, artistic, and emotional images. I would love to be the one to help furnish your home with the most incredible memories you’ve ever had! Click here

Picture of Damon, the photographer

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