How much does family photography cost?



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I'm Marjorie


I work with parents who want relaxed and unposed photos, providing them with images that capture the joyful and unscripted moments in life.

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As a parent of young kids, you may be asking yourself, “Is it worth hiring a professional photographer for a family photo session? And if so, how much does family photography cost?”

How much does family photography cost? Image collage with photos from a family photo session at home.

The short answer to the first question – in my opinion – is a resounding YES! Totally worth it! And I’ll share my thoughts on why throughout the article. 

The second question – how much does it cost – is a little more complicated. Why? Because there is no industry standard for family photography pricing, which can be very confusing. 

There are two obvious things you’re paying for when you hire a family photographer: their services (taking your photos) and the products they offer (the actual photos.)

But there is a “hidden” third element you’re also purchasing: the experience.

Whether you’re treated like a VIP or have a less personal experience with your photographer, will also influence the overall pricing.

Read on for more information on the cost of family photography and why it’s worth the investment!

Table of Contents

Is a professional family photography session worth it?

Considering how phone cameras have become more sophisticated and the fact that everyone has that one friend who’s pretty good with a camera – this is a valid question!

But let me tell you this: even as a professional photographer, I still choose to hire other professional photographer when it’s time for my family photos.

Black & white photo of a father and his two young kids taken during an at-home family photo session.

Here are 6 reasons why I think you should, too:

  1. You are so busy, mama. If your life is anything like mine, then I know you have a lot on your plate! Between buying groceries, making sure the house is clean, making sure everyone is fed, and clean, and properly clothed… Phew! It’s a lot. Don’t give yourself another job when you don’t have to!
  1. Use this time to be present with your kiddos. If done correctly, a family photo session can be the perfect opportunity to slow down and focus on your family. Life with young children is so fast-paced. Why not take that time to just… be together and not worry about a thing? 
  1. You should be in the frame! Regardless of how you feel in your mind and body, it’s crucial for you to be in the photos, too. Your kids might not remember this time in their lives very well – or at all – so make sure you are a part of their story when it comes to family photos. 
  1. Professional photos will look… better. If you’re working with an experienced photographer, then they will think about composition, color, angles, white balance, depth of field, lens choice, and a whole bunch of other technical stuff. Basically, they will use their knowledge and expertise to deliver beautiful images. 
  1. It’s not just about the digitals. Get print products, too! You probably already have thousands of iphone photos of (and hopefully with) your kids. What will you do with all those photos? Scroll through them occasionally? I am a huge proponent of getting print products – loose prints, framed prints, albums, collage walls, etc – so you can look at those photos, and show them off, as much as you want. 
  1. Your future self will thank you. Getting family photos is not the kind of thing you’ll regret. Imagine yourself on the couch on your kid’s 18th birthday, looking through your family photos together? They’ll be able to see not only how cute and little they were, but how loved they were..

What am I paying for when I book a family photo session?

When you hire a professional family photographer, there are two obvious things you’re paying for: their services and their products. 

The services cover the session itself, the use of their equipment, and expertise. 

The products are the photos they deliver. Those can be digital images and/or print products (such as loose prints, print packs, framed prints, albums, collage walls, etc.) 

But there is also a “hidden” third element you’re purchasing: the experience. 

Your experience has to do with how you feel each step of the way. Are you relaxed and confident in your photographer’s ability to serve you? Or do you feel anxious and confused about when things will happen and how to prepare? 

Of course you won’t know for sure until you’re actually going through the journey with your photographer, but here are a few question to ask yourself before committing to someone:

  • Does their website seem professional? Can you easily contact them or take the next step?
  • How is the communication? Are they prompt and professional?
  • Do they outline their process? Do you generally know what the next step will be?
  • If they offer a discovery call, did you feel like you connected with them? Do your personalities gel?
  • Have you expressed what you’re looking for from your family photography session, and have they assured you they can provide it?  
  • Do their past clients seem satisfied?
Two images of parents playing with their young kids, taken during at-home family photo sessions.

The “hard costs” of family photography

Now let’s dive into some of the more literal aspects of what influences the cost of family photography. Let’s talk about the hard costs. 

This is what makes up the overhead for professional photographers. Some items are obvious, while others might not have occurred to you:

  • Camera gear (duh!)
  • A computer in great working condition that can handle processing of large files
  • Editing software (such as Adobe Lightroom)
  • Insurance
  • Website design and hosting
  • CRM (Client Relationship Management software) – allows entrepreneurs to collect payments, sign contracts, send out client emails, etc.
  • Gallery software – for photo hosting and delivery to clients
  • Email Marketing subscription – to send out newsletters and promotional emails  (such as Mail Chimp, Convertkit, or Flodesk)
  • Education – even the best photographers are always trying to improve through courses, conventions, etc.
Image collage of joyful families during at-home photo sessions.

The “intangibles” you pay for when booking a professional family photographer

This is where experience and expertise come in. With any kind of photography, the photographer not only needs to know their equipment like the back of their hand, but they must know how to deal with the people on the other side of the camera. 

What good is it to have a person who’s a master of lighting but is uncomfortable around young kids?

For family photography, the list of intangibles looks like this:

  • Speed and ease at which they can set up and use all their gear
  • Ability to use available light (sunlight) in a flattering and compelling way, or knowledge around the use of artificial lighting (such as off-camera flash or studio lighting)
  • Basic understanding of color and how it impacts mood and tone
  • Skills as a photo editor to create a cohesive collection for each client
  • Leadership skills to guide clients through their journey together and, most importantly, their photo session
  • Understanding of toddlers and young children – their needs, schedules, and possible issues that could arise (and how to solve them!) 
  • Great communication skills across the board (whether it’s over the phone, via email, or in person)
  • Organization skills – staying on top of each client’s needs and general business responsibilities
  • All-around entrepreneur – understanding of not just photography but SEO, marketing, social media, branding, website design, blogging, etc.
Two moms and their children reading on the couch during an at-home family photo session.

Possible business models for photographers

The two most common business models for newborn photographers are: 

  1. All-inclusive
  2. Service/product

With an all-inclusive model, you pay a fixed fee that includes the session as well as the photographs. And in most cases, the photographs are offered as digitals only, not print products (such as print packs, framed prints, albums, display walls, etc.) 

All-inclusive photographers are usually in the lower end of the spectrum, charging in the $100’s. 

The service/product business model means you pay for services and products separately. Usually the photographer will require a session fee or deposit at the time of booking and offer packages or collections after your session. They may have 3-5 collections for you to pick from, each including a certain number of digitals plus either specific products or print credit. 

Service/product photographers are usually in the higher end of the spectrum, charging around $1,000 or more. 

Photo collage including a mom coloring with her 6-year old son, and a dad tickling his toddler son. Both photos taken at home during family photo sessions.

What should I expect to spend on a family photography session?

Because there is no industry standard when it comes to family photography pricing, there will always be a variety of options. Some photographers will charge hundreds of dollars, while others charge $1,000 or more for family photos. 

Keep in mind: In order to run a successful business, a photographer can charge less money and serve more clients, or charge more money and serve fewer clients. 

So at the end of the day, it depends on your budget and what kind of experience you’re looking for. 

If you spend $300 for an all-inclusive package, then realistically, that photographer would have to take hundreds of clients per year to run a profitable business. Which means you wouldn’t be able to expect a very personalized experience. 

If you spend upwards of $1,000, then it’s reasonable to expect a high-touch, VIP experience throughout your time working with that professional. 

Parents reading books with their three children on the couch during an at-home family photo session.

Tips for Hiring a Family Photographer

Here’s what you might consider before hiring a family photographer:

  • Your budget – What are you able and willing to spend on family photos? 
  • Photography style – Are you drawn to portrait, lifestyle, or documentary photography? Do you understand the difference and does the photographer you’re considering offer the style you like?
  • At home or on location? – Where would you like to have your session? Not all photographers offer both options.
  • Just digitals? – Are you interested in print products – print packs, framed prints, albums, display walls, etc – in addition to digital images? Make sure your photographer offers what you’re looking for. 
Black & white collage of family photos taken during family photoshoots.

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