How many Births Should I Book as A birth photographer and How much should I charge?

Over the last few blogs we learnt whether you can see yourself as a birth photographer. Whether you have what it takes to hold the birth space for your pregnant and expectant parents to be. We also saw how experienced birth photographers navigate different parts of their businesses. Read back in the previous blogs. Read on their own personal experience as a professionally registered birth photographer in South Africa. 

You’re probably excited about the next blog about what to charge and how many births should I book for my birth clients.

Birth photography needs to be something you’re passionate about. You are there to support both the mom, the dad, to be with them. Documenting their once in a lifetime day. The day they meet their baby. They have been anticipating, carrying and loving for months will arrive and you as a vital part of their birth plan and team need to be massively reliable for them in that moment.

You will need to drop your priorities to attend the birth and help create a supportive birth space. But, this also needs to work for you and fit into your life.

A course on planning your birth photography business would not be complete without discussing what other birth photographers charge. What you can charge and how many births you can realistically attend a month. 

How much should I charge for a birth photography booking?

In South Africa we recommend birth photographers charge anything between R5000 – R8000 for a birth when you are starting out. New birth photographers can start out at R5000. We have photographers that are charging over R19 000 per birth depending on experience and area. Keep in mind pricing does run according to location and whether or not you are in a bigger city or if you are in a smaller town. 

What you charge will depend on your experience. The service you are providing your client and if you are just there to photograph or if you include some video as well.

Take some time to think about your quality of service and what you plan to provide your client. Think about what is important for you and your brand. Is it simplistic birth photography packages or do you want to offer a more extensive package? Do you want to build a relationship with your clients or just get in and get out? This is where your business model will come into play.

As photographers, we know that standing out from the rest and providing something more unique and special to our clients is what sets you apart. Delivering a great experience and beautiful quality work goes a long way towards achieving this. We recommend putting together some ideas on where you would like to be in terms of your service level. What you want your reputation to be based on. It is all a process of growing and learning so keep exploring your ideas.

How many birth photography clients can you book a month?

I always advise booking 2-3 births a month. A lot of the other birth photographers are exactly the same. I would suggest that you probably can’t do more than 4. You would be pushing it quite a bit at 4. Booking 2 – 4 births a month is feasible. Which is again why the charge is what it is and what you need to remember when booking clients. 

This also depends on if you are including a maternity shoot. Just a birth alone would be R5000. If you are adding a maternity shoot, a newborn shoot and a fresh 48 (hospital day after birth shoot), that would all be extra. This can all be part of your birth package and these would increase your package options. Again some more ideas to think about and brainstorm.

I hope now you can see why you would book two to four clients ONLY. It is not just the birth that you are going to – it is the maternity shoot, the newborn shoot and the hospital visit the next day, plus the editing. You are also on call for your client throughout the process. You can’t overbook or double book because you don’t know when your client is going to have her baby
. Even with a caesarean section. 

For charging purposes there is no difference between natural birth and a caesarean section and we do encourage our photographers to see them in the same light. You do not want to show preference to one or the other. You commit to photographing your clients birth whether she labours for one hour or 24 hours. 

Most of my caesarean sections have ended up as an emergency caesarean. This happens when the mom has gone into labour beforehand. This could be at any time of the day or night and then you’ve got to rush to the hospital as the medical team prep for these situations very quickly. Caesarean sections can be more challenging than natural births. Natural births are a longer process, but you’ve got more time to get to the hospital. With an emergency C-section, the gynae and anaesthetists take them into theatre within an hour so it’s very difficult. You have to make sure the hospital you are going to is very close by otherwise you could miss it. The doctors and medical staff don’t wait for the photographer, even if the client asks. 

You probably have a much clearer idea about whether birth photography is for you or not by now and we hope you are starting to think about this as a business and a calling. 

Don’t miss our next blog where we share the other musts for your business.