I have been wanting to write these words for a while now but it’s only been recently that I have the mind to articulate my feelings about this very topic. Here is the piece my heart and head wrote. . .
One thing you can be sure about me, I don’t do it for the money. Sure money is nice, it gets you things and experiences you may not have otherwise been able to enjoy. Money allows for certain things in life, opens certain doors but it’s never been fulfilling in my life. Rather the opposite actually. It’s never the actual amount of money that fulfills me, but rather how I choose to save or spend it.
Often when I tell someone what I charge for my services, I get an “Oh, wow! I am in the wrong business!”, or “Why are you so expensive?”. Every time I get a comment like this, it stings a little. Yes, hiring me isn’t cheap. It may take some months to save up for, or pay off. However, the families I serve would tell you time and time again….it was all worth every penny.
"When I say yes to a new family, I am saying no to something else I hold dear in my life"
When I say yes to a new family, I am saying no to something else I hold dear in my life. I say no to extra time with my kiddos that just won’t stop growing. I say no to extra time with my husband, my life partner. I say no to extra time nurturing the friendships I’ve worked hard to cultivate over the years. I say no to quiet time alone with a book, or to be real…binge watching Hulu. I say no to an extra glass of wine, or trips more than an hour away from home in case I need to make a mad dash to a birth. I said no to staying until the end of my daughters 3rd birthday because I needed to get to a birth. I also said no to letting the heartbreak in the morning my sister in law passed away and I was 2.5 hours away from my husband, at a birth.
Those are the true costs of my business though I could go on and on in detail about all the actual costs and expenses that I have. The thousands of dollars in equipment I own and carry with me to each and every birth. The even more thousands I spend each year on software, editing tools, image hosting, prints, products, education, insurance, taxes, travel, childcare and so on and so forth. The list would burn your eyes to be honest, and in fact I almost quit doing what I love to do most because of said list earlier this year.
But I didn’t.
Instead I priced myself in such a way that allows me to not just pay my costs and keep burning my candle at both ends to keep up. I decided I would price myself appropriately to allow me to not just survive my business, but to thrive. I prayed, and trusted the Lord that He would bring the right people into my life. The kinds of people that would not just look at my pricing and turn the page, but to see the true value in the way that I serve the world. I priced my self so that I can continue to say yes to my people, the families that I adore. But that I can also say yes to more time with my kids, and husband making memories of our own. I realized that telling my own story is just as important as the time I take to tell it for my clients.
"When I say yes to a new family, I say yes with my whole heart."
When I say yes to a new family, I say yes with my whole heart. I say yes to serving with the tools and talent the Lord has provided me. I say yes to sharing love and laughs with a whole new group of people in the most sacred space imaginable. I say yes to beautiful new memories of my own, while I capture memories they will cherish for a lifetime. I say yes to a wonderful passion of birth and community and joy.
Money is just money. It is not the bread and butter of my business.
True connection to my families that I serve, is. Money is not the “why”, but only the “how” I do what I do. YOU are the why. People like you, that read my blogs, follow my story, value my work and see the love and intention behind everything that I produce. You are my people. You are my WHY.
If I could, I would do each birth for free. If time was infinite, and money expendable. Only in a perfect world. However I always tell my clients even families that choose to not hire me to always choose wisely. Interview your birth team, ask for packages, or payment plans because this time you never get back. The time you spent away from home earning the money to hire your birth team, much less raising a new baby, you never get back. Be picky, be choosey, you deserve to be. And this year I finally realized, so do I.
So, I no longer choose to fill my calendar with so many births and sessions that I am overflowing and quite frankly, overwhelmed. I save those precious spots in my calendar for my clients, my people. I not only prayed for the right people but also for the right attitude and knowledge to run my business in a different light. I now serve in a much different way than I did before. Saying yes to me means you say yes to the best person and photographer I know how to be in this moment. I’m not perfect, and never claim to be, but I do give my very best with each new family I encounter. I always want to walk away from births with new friends, and I do.
I hope that more birth photographers, can start to value themselves in this way. I hope more birth workers and families can start to see us this way too. Instead of being envious, or disgusted by our prices, I hope we can rejoice in the fact that a fellow woman and entrepreneur has found her worth. That she serves both her clients and her family in the best way that she knows how. And that we can gather around her and choose to love and support her. This is my hope.