Updated: Apr 26, 2019
I’ve literally never met someone who regretted spending the money to have their baby’s birthday photographed - but I’ve met plenty who regret not having any images to remember the day.
I don’t have to convince you that birth photography is worth the money. You already treasure the memories you have in photographs, and you would absolutely LOVE to have a professional photographer to document your baby’s birthday. You recognize that while it is definitely cheaper to have your partner snap some photos during your labor and delivery, if he or she is the one taking the photos, then he or she will not be a part of them. You'll miss out on capturing those beautiful moments while he's holding your hand, rubbing your back and gazing at you in love and amazement; The look on his face when he sees your baby for the first time; The pride in his eyes as he finally gets to hold your baby after watching you carry him or her for months. Those are parts of the story that are too important to forget.
But you’ve looked into hiring a birth photographer and the sticker shock is overwhelming. You may have even decided to give up on the idea and just have your husband take the pictures and hope for the best. If only you could find a fairy to wave a magic wand or lay a wad of cash in your lap.
"I just can't afford it" is the number one response I get from people who inquire about birth photography, but end up not booking. It hurts my heart, because I really believe that everyone deserves these images. I get the budget thing, I really do. I’m a single mom with two kiddos, so I am very aware of the constraints of a tight budget. It can be tricky enough to figure out how to make ends meet every month, let alone figure out how to purchase something that costs $1,000 or more. Birth photography is not cheap, for sure. But that doesn't necessarily mean you can't have it.
Just hear me out: The second you tell yourself "I can't afford it" you literally shut the door to any possibility of hiring your dream birth photographer. Why? Because your brain can only focus on the fact that you CAN'T - and won't have the ability to see the variety of opportunities you have right now to make it happen. It's kind of like when you drive a Ford Taurus, you see tons of other Ford Taurus's on the road, because that's what's in your immediate experience. But then you trade in the Ford and get a Dodge minivan, and all of a sudden you notice a bunch of other Dodge minivans on the road. They were always there, you just didn't notice them because you weren't really looking for them. Make sense?
So what if you told yourself that it is possible, and that you can make it happen? Even if you’re overwhelmed looking at the price. Even if you have no idea how. I’ve been there and I truly believe that if you really want something, there’s a way to get it. All it takes is the belief that you can, willingness to be open and a pinch of creativity.
So here are 15 creative ways to pay for your birth photographer. Keep an open mind and do what works best for you and your family, and you’ll be on your way to your dream birth story session.
#1 Check your Mindset
Ok, this isn’t really a “git ‘r done” technique, but it’s just as important if not more important than the rest of the solutions I’m about to give you. Be honest with yourself - do you REALLY want a birth photographer? Is it a priority for you? If it is, you have to BELIEVE you can have it. Nothing will kill a goal faster than saying/believing that it’s too far out of reach and just can’t happen for you. This goes for pretty much anything you want, so watch what you say, think and believe. Tell yourself “when I get the money” or “I'm excited to see how this all works out”. You’ll be amazed at how fast money rolls in once you start to believe that it can happen for you.
#2 PLAN PLAN PLAN
If you want something you have to plan for it. Where attention goes, energy flows. So be intentional with your goal to hire a birth photographer. Hell, even start planning before you get pregnant! Trying for a baby? Or know that you’re wanting to start a family in 1, 2 or 5 years? Then start planning now and get your ducks (and finances) in a row for your birth photographer.
But what if you’re already pregnant? Planning will help no matter how you decide to save/raise funds to get your birth session covered. The idea here is to take control where you can and put your intention into making it happen (instead of focusing on the obstacles to making it happen).
#3 Look for a photographer wanting to gain experience
Many photographers (myself included) will offer discounted sessions to build their portfolio and gain experience in the birth story genre of photography. If you aren’t able to swing a full session fee from a seasoned pro, put out an ISO on Facebook looking for a photographer who would be willing to give you a discounted session to practice.
#4 Ask about a payment plan
It seems obvious, but when you’re in sticker shock sometimes you’re too overwhelmed to even consider this. Most birth photographers recognize that birth photography is a big investment, and are willing to work with you to come up with flexible payment plans. Many will even do this interest free (myself included). If your session costs $2,000 and you spread that over 7 months, that's only $286 per month - which is a number that is much more manageable. The earlier you book your session, the longer you will have to spread out the payments, so it’s also a good idea to book your photographer as soon as you find out you’re pregnant (or as soon as you decide you want to have a photographer present).
#5 Offer to trade
Trading is alive and well! Although this may not work in every situation, I have personally traded photography sessions for massage, childcare, house cleaning, another photo session and some of my favorite MLM products, to name a few. If you have something you sell or a service that you offer, see if your photographer is willing to trade for that product or service! And even if it doesn’t cover the entire session, you may be able to work out a deal that makes both of you happy as pie.
This is the answer no one wants to hear, but it’s probably the most helpful (after mindset). Even with my tight budget, I often find that I’m spending where I don’t need to be spending (Starbucks run, anyone?) The biggest culprit is usually the grocery store (not Starbucks...it’s never Starbucks…). Look over your budget and see where you might be able to cut back a few dollars. Plan meals and make a list (and stick to it) when you go grocery shopping. You’ll be amazed at the difference being intentional with your money will make in a short amount of time.
#7 Open a “birth photography” savings account
I love me some Dave Ramsey and his principle of spending categories, but I’m not really a fan of having tons of cash just hanging out. Especially for times when you’re in the checkout line of the grocery store and at that EXACT moment your 10 year old confesses that he “borrowed” money from the grocery money envelope. UGH.
So plan B - Open a separate bank account that is designated specifically for your birth photography savings. From the money you save by budgeting and not hitting up Starbucks as often (I’m sure you don’t have that problem), you can throw a few dollars here and there into that account. You could even throw your tax refund in there (if you get one) or any monetary gifts you get from friends/family. It’ll grow quicker than you think. And when your baby’s birthday has come and gone, you can continue to use that account to save for another big goal.
#8 Forgo the fancy-dancy playpen…
Can I be candid for a moment? If this isn't your first baby, then you are well aware that there are a TON of expensive baby items that are just not necessary. If this is your first baby, take my advice: You don’t need all. the. things. Get with other experienced moms and let them help you decide what’s really necessary and what’s not. And for the big-ticket baby items, buy them used or even borrow from friends/family. Trust me, your baby will only use that super expensive frilly bassinet for like 3 months (if you’re lucky). Would you rather spend your money on that, or on memories that will last long after your baby is grown and gone? (gentle hint - one is totally replaceable...the other you can never get back).
#9 Enlist friends and family to help pay
People love to throw money at a new baby. Probably more so than your wedding. But unless you make your wishes known, you’re going to end up with more toys and cute outfits and random diaper sizes than you’ll ever need (or want). Help your friends and family help you by asking them to contribute to a much more meaningful gift that will last more than a couple of months (or weeks). Many photographers offer registries so that friends and family can pitch in to help off-set the cost of your birth session. You could even request a donation to your photo fund in lieu of birthday or holiday gifts. Just ask!
#10 - Sell some stuff
I’m pretty sure all of us have crap that we don’t really need. What better time to get rid of extra clutter than during the months you’re preparing to welcome a new baby? Use that nesting instinct to your advantage and rummage through the basement, garage and closets and hold a yard sale. Or post your stuff for sale in Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist. It will help free your mind, your space, and give you a boost for your birth photography fund.
#11 - Get your side hustle on
Do you have a skill or craft you make that people would pay for? Or can you snag a part-time job babysitting, pet sitting or dog walking? Get creative here. I’m not saying work yourself to the bone, but there are plenty of part-time, flexible ways to earn some extra cash for a big goal. Just remember that it’s temporary and will help you be able to afford your birth story images without having to eat rice and beans for the next year...
#12 - Get a loan
I’m normally not an advocate for debt. I’m currently Dave Ramsey-ing my life and business to be completely debt free. HOWEVER, for those time-sensitive things you can’t put off because you’ll never get to do it over (eh hem - birth photography), I make an exception. Do the best you can with the other tips above to save as much cash as possible, and if you have to, take out a loan for the rest (or all) of it. You may even be able to borrow from friends or family interest-free, or worst case, put it on a credit card. I’ve literally never met someone who regretted spending the money to have their baby’s birthday photographed - but I’ve met plenty who regret not having any images to remember the day.
Moral of the story? We can always find a way to pay for something we really want. Don’t let your current financial situation (or perceived financial situation) deter you from having a photographer capture your birth if that’s what you really want. And if birth images aren't really a priority for you, that’s okay too. But if they are, use any or all of the ideas above and make it happen!