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6 Tips to Afford Your Dream Birth Photographer (even if you're on a budget)



Girl, if you have your heart set on a birth photographer, please - don’t let something as temporary as money steal these moments away from you. Money comes and goes. It is renewable. But this moment? You can never get this back.

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. But you’ve looked into hiring a birth photographer and the sticker shock is overwhelming. You may have even given up on the idea altogether and just plan to have your partner take the pictures and hope for the best.


But what if - just dream with me for a second - you could find a way to make it work that didn’t involve you eating nothing but rice and beans for your entire pregnancy? What if you could have your dream birth photographer to capture the most important moments - with your partner as a part of them instead of behind the camera?



Girl, if you have your heart set on a birth photographer, please - don’t let something as temporary as money steal these moments away from you. Money comes and goes. It is renewable. But this moment? You can never get this back.


Trust me. As a photographer and birth worker, I am obviously super sentimental about photos and my own birth stories. But when my babies were born, I didn’t even realize birth photography was a thing. I have almost nothing to remember the most transformative and empowering two days of my life (not to mention the day I got to finally meet the baby I had already fallen in love with!)


You think you’ll remember because it’s such an important event, but the reality is that mom brain is real, sleep deprivation is a bitch, and the details fade quicker than you know. They say you forget all the pain once baby is born - and that’s true for a lot of us. But you also forget a lot of the important details, or miss out on them all together while you’re overwhelmed with labor and those first moments with your baby.


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Even if you’ve already given up on the idea, I want you to stick with me for a minute because I’m going to share with you my top 6 tips for hiring the birth photographer of your dreams, even if you’re on a budget (and even if that photographer is not me). No matter what your financial situation, I promise you will find something below that will help. Keep an open mind and get ready to take this dream and make it a reality!


#1 Check your mindset


This one is a DOOZY, but is the absolute most important tip to consider if you want a birth photographer but aren’t sure how to make it happen (that’s why it’s #1!).


"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?

And this is not just a woo-woo wishful thinking thing. This is backed by science. We won’t go into all of that right now, but if you’re curious you can google it with terms such as “manifestation” “the law of attraction”. If you’re a documentary person, check out “what the bleep do we know” -- it’ll blow your freaking mind.


But I digress...

Back to the task at hand - I encourage you to not worry about asking “how” right now, and just sit with the idea that it is possible, and if you really want it then you will find a way.



#2 Get super clear on your priorities


Once you’ve decided that you won’t shut out opportunities by simply believing that it can’t or won’t happen for you, I want you to take a look at your priorities.


Yes, we all have budgets and a certain income we’re working with - and as much as we’d love to go into a store and buy whatever the heck we want, most of us have to prioritize so we walk out with the most important things. Whether you realize it or not, you’re doing this on a daily basis as you choose how to spend your money and your time.


I encourage you to sit down and go through all the things you want and need for baby. What are those things going to cost? Do you have something on your list (or several things) that you could get second hand? Is there something on there that you thought you had to have, but when you really think about it, you could live without? Talk with seasoned parents to find out what products were absolutely essential, and which ones were not worth the investment.


Consider the things that will make the most difference to you and your baby 5, 10, 20 and 50 years down the line. Will they care if they had the current top-of-the-line bassinet? Think about what’s most important to you in this journey with your baby. And if it is having that super fancy stroller with all the bells and whistles, and it really is a priority for you, then you do you, boo.


The point is to be really intentional with what is most valuable to you, rather than getting caught up in the latest and greatest that Instagram says you need. And if you do this exercise and decide that birth photography is not a priority, then I’m just super glad you took the time to intentionally decide what’s most important for you. Most people never take the time to really do that work, so I’m giving you a virtual high five!



#3 Set a goal and start saving


Ok, so here’s where you can roll up your sleeves and take action. First, figure out what your goal is. How much money do you need in order to hire your dream birth photographer? Is it $1,000? Is it $5,000? You can’t get anywhere if you don’t know where you’re going. So figure out what you need to make it happen, and start there.


Look at your budget


Take a look at your current budget. If you don’t have one, make one! Is there somewhere you can cut back? Do you have a gym membership that you don’t use regularly that you could maybe cut out and do exercises at home or outside? Are you someone who needs to have an iced coffee every time you leave the house? (if you feel personally attacked, just know that I’m in your club. We’ll work on this one together). What about groceries? Do you buy a bunch of random stuff that sounds good at the time without much of a plan, then end up eating takeout half the time anyway?


I am pretty strict with my budget, but it never fails - every time I take a close look at it, there are definitely improvements I can make to save a few extra dollars here and there.


Cool, so you’ve found ways to cut back - now how do you make sure you don’t spend those extra dollars burning a hole in your pocket? I recommend setting up a completely separate bank account for your birth photography fund.


I’ll share with you one of my favorite money management tips that I adapted from a combination of Dave Ramsey’s envelope system, plus the book “Profit First” by Mike Michalowicz.


I have 18 (yes...eighteen) bank accounts between my personal and business accounts. I basically use them as “envelopes” to physically divide money out into separate buckets for different financial goals I have.


For example, I have an account that is just for vehicle expenses, and I try to keep at least $1,000 in there at all times in case an unexpected vehicle repair comes up. This account has saved me multiple times. I also have an account for Christmas that I fund throughout the year, so when the holidays roll around I can feel free to spend more to bless my friends and family.


Feel free to steal this idea and create a “birth photography” fund that you can add extra money to each month. It’s so satisfying to watch that account grow, and when you call it your “birth photography” fund (rather than just generic “savings”), it will remind you of your goal and why you started it in the first place.


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Get Scrappy


Now that you have a goal and a place to put any extra money you save towards it, you can get creative to find ways to throw even more money into that account.


Do you have things you could sell that you aren’t using anymore? Maybe have a garage sale. Not only will it get you some extra cash, but it’ll satisfy that nesting urge too ;)


Do you have a skill or something you create that you could sell for extra cash?


Could you take on a side hustle for a ride share or food delivery service?


Could you get a part-time work from home job (there are a lot more available since the rise of work-from-home after Covid lockdowns).


Do you love people? Maybe you could get a part time job in the food service industry (again, lots of places are understaffed and looking hard for workers).


Whatever it is, decide what you are willing to do to put more money towards your goal and DO IT.


#4 Ask about a payment plan


I don’t think I’ve ever met a birth worker who didn’t offer payment plans for their services. We LOVE working with birthing parents and believe everyone deserves this service. We are also often underpaid ourselves (because we love our work so much), and are very aware of the constraints of a tight budget. Most birth workers will work with you to find a payment plan that works for everyone, usually without any interest. Just bring up the conversation - it doesn’t hurt to ask! You may be surprised about the options that are available to you.


#5 Enlist friends and family to help share the cost


There’s no debate that babies (and kids in general) are expensive. That’s clear. But wanna know something cool?! Most people are STOKED to spend money on babies. They LOVE opening their pockets to throw money at a brand new squishy babe.


Use your baby shower and/or registry to its full potential and ask for friends and family to contribute to birth photography (or maternity or newborn, if those are also a priority for you).


I LOVE how gifting is getting a bit of an overhaul in recent years. I'm so excited when I get invited to a baby shower where guests are encouraged to bring a book with a personal note in it rather than a card, since it will be something the new baby/family can use and will have more sentimental and practical value.


People are also really starting to see the value in spending less on “stuff” and more on experiences and memories. I’ve personally been to baby showers where the parents-to-be request second hand clothes, toys, etc. in order to cut down on unnecessary waste. You can ask your guests bring second hand items, and contribute financially to what would be most beneficial for yo and your family - like photography, birth or postpartum doula services, or even meals after baby is born.


Many photographers (including yours truly) offer a registry where friends and family can easily donate to your birth photography fund, lifting the financial burden of what’s most important to you.


#6 Get a loan


This tip is last for a reason - because I truly believe that you can accomplish your goal without debt. However, if you’ve done everything you can to save and it’s still not enough, then I’ll say it again - money is renewable. Time is not. You will never get this opportunity back. 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. Myself included.


The good news is that you’ve used the tips above to save as much as you can, and can continue to use those tips after the baby is born to pay off any money you borrow. But for the love of your placenta, please don’t let these moments pass because you don’t have the cash in hand right now. You will earn more money. There’s an abundance of it (even if it doesn’t feel like it right now). I promise, you won’t regret the money you had to borrow temporarily in order to document the best day of your life.



I hope these tips have helped you get your wheels turning on how you can fit birth photography into your budget. I have full faith that with some open mindedness, creativity and faith you will be able to hire the birth photographer of your dreams to document the best day of your life.


Maybe all it takes is simply looking for opportunities and you’ll meet your goal. Maybe you have to use all of these tips, right down to a loan to finance most of the cost of your birth photographer. Whatever it looks like for you and your family is perfect, and I’m here to cheer you on. You’ve dreamed of meeting this baby. You’ve planned and prepared and waited. You deserve to have all the photos to remember it by.

 

Wanna see a super inspiring birth story? When Nicole hired me as her doula and birth photographer, she had no idea just how important both the support and photos would be for her. Neither did I. Grab some tissues and Check out When Nothing Goes To Plan - Phoebe’s Birth Story” (Birth story photos AND video ;) ).




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