Maegan Dougherty Photography – Northern NJ Photographer » Northern NJ Birth and Family Photographer

These are some of the powerful and heartwarming responses I’ve received in my “pay what you can for family photography” questionnaires. I am LOVING reading these.

“Your photography is raw. It’s real. It doesn’t try to stage things perfectly. It captures the moment as it passes, as a quiet observer off to the side. Your photos show the love between family members with just a simple glance or a simple touch. You capture kids as kids, in their most real genuine moments. And not just kids, parents too. But somehow you make the beauty that we miss, as we live the moment, stand out when we look at your photos.”


“The days go by so fast and it’s so sad I haven’t captured a picture of the four of us.”

“If I could pay you ten times this I would because you are worth every penny, but unfortunately with our growing family it doesn’t fit the budget.”

“Well, the pictures you capture of families in their home just BEING and so full of joy, it really grabs at my heart. That’s what I would love. As mom, I’m never in the pictures unless I take a selfie.”

“I can look back on your pictures you took of our family and can feel every emotion from that time period, and they bring back the best memories.”

“It’s so great to be carefree and calm and not judged.”

“I’m reluctant to be photographed. But then I read what you wrote about seeing myself in the photos as the way my children see me… And I started to cry. I know my children see my body as beautiful.”

More tears!

If you haven’t read about my April experiment yet, you can find the information here, along with the questionnaire to submit if you would like me to photograph your family this month. I would estimate that my time is about 25% filled, so if you can submit this weekend, that will be great!

Some unrelated pictures, because they are cute…

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I think about this all the time. This idea of paying what you can, for something you want. Until the other day when I spontaneously posted about my experiment on Facebook, I have always talked myself out of it. I love the idea of photographing families at whatever price they are able to pay, in a way that allows me to earn the income I need, to feel valued, and be sufficiently paid for my time and my art. But won’t that feel awkward for people? Wouldn’t it be unfair to my full price paying clients or to my local photographer friends? Doesn’t that lead clients to choose me only based on price?

I don’t know if it’s possible to make this work in a way that feels good. But I’m going to give it a shot for a month, and see what happens! My hopes are that I will have a good time, photograph really awesome families who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford my prices, pay my mortgage, and I don’t know…maybe some other amazing results that I haven’t even considered.

Interested? If you’re a photographer or some other type of business owner, and you’re curious how this is going to work, be sure you are connected with my Facebook page, where I’ve started posting my observations about the experiment. I intend to be open and honest about the feelings, successes, and challenges along the way.

If you’re a person wanting to have your family photographed by me, because you feel a connection with me or to my work, I hope you will get started right now with the steps below. Let’s capture this crazy, beautiful, hard, messy, fun, full of love time in your life!

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Here are the steps. They are all in the questionnaire as well, so if you’re ready to get started, you can head right over there:

1. Complete this questionnaireI’d like to know a little about your family, your story, your experience with family photos, and what draws you to my work.

2. Read this page to learn what it’s like to have me photograph your family (if you don’t already know), including my standard pricing. Think about whether my style suits your desires. If you are looking for the photographer with the lowest price, I’m not for you. If you’d like styled or posed portraits with props, and everyone looking at the camera, I’d be happy to refer you to some talented friends of mine. But if you want to have your real life captured in an authentic and natural way, and you value experience and art, please continue to step 3!

3. Think about your unique financial situation, and what is a doable amount for you to pay at this time. It might be that you find great value in photography, but can only give a small amount because you’re having a tough time. Maybe you can offer a product or a service to barter, or you have gift cards you’re not using. (I LOVE barters!) It might be that you can pay my standard pricing. Maybe things are going well for you in the money department, and you can even do more, to help cover other families who aren’t able to offer much. Let me know your number. Yes, this might feel awkward to you. Please know that I wouldn’t be doing this if I weren’t confident about my own value. Your number won’t insult me if it’s below my standard pricing. Feel free to also share any feelings that your number bring up in you.

4. I respond and let you know what I can offer you. I may be able to travel to your home on the weekend for a full family documentary photo shoot with 50 pictures. Or I might offer a weekday morning shared time slot in a park close to me including a few pictures. Or anything in between. Either way, we have fun and you get some pictures of your family.

5. If you feel good about the exchange, we arrange payment, and we schedule your family photos for a day in April! Since I didn’t get this posted before April started, I will extend that a bit to May 5, so we have a full month. If you are an existing client of mine and I am currently scheduled to photograph your family, or if I photographed your family (documentary family photo shoot, $500 mini session, or birth) after October 1, 2016, the experiment is extended for you, and we can schedule a “pay what you can” shoot for up to nine months from the last time I photographed you.

6. I hope you will enjoy the time we spend together during your family photo shoot, and I hope you will treasure the photos. I also hope you will remember this experience and take some good feelings from it with you, into your every day life, and into your future.

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Do you remember your first home as a child? Were the walls covered with your drawings and paintings? Did you nap on the couch, and do projects at the kitchen table? Was it a small house with a big yard, where you walked barefoot in the grass, explored and found treasures in nature, and hung from tree branches? Whatever it was like, and even if it wasn’t perfect, I hope you have special memories of it.

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It’s World Doula Week (okay, it was when I started this post), and I love doulas! A quick Google search will give you lots of info about what doulas do and why they are valuable. They are so valuable. Here you can see, in photos, some of the beautiful support they provide.

Although I’m not practicing as a doula, I have been through Birth Arts International birth doula training, and I also attended an advanced doula training led by Gena Kirby and Debra Pascali-Bonaro. I love learning everything I can about birth and knowing ways I can support my photography clients. However, my passion is in the documenting. I love being there in the room as a positive calming presence, holding space for the birthing person. I’ll hold a hand when I see one needs to be held, and can offer ideas for comfort measures or questions to ask providers, but for my clients who would like more support than that, I absolutely recommend hiring a doula.

The doulas pictures here, all of whom I recommend, are Thalla-Marie, Anne, Emily, Ina, Angela, Deby, and Jess. Another favorite of mine is Jen. Be sure to visit Whole Mother Village for doula services and more. And some other doulas to check out, whom I hope to work with in the future, are Roseanne (we’ll be at a birth together in August, woohoo), Kim, Cindy (my doula trainer and a super cool person), Premier Doulas, Christine, and Debi. So many good ones, and I know I’m missing a bunch!

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Two years ago I had what I will always remember as one my most important photo shoots. I remember so clearly the message I received from my client, Jamie, letting me know this would be the first time her transgender daughter, Rebekah, would be photographed as her authentic self.

It’s taken me so long to blog these pictures because they’re so important. And sometimes important things take time. I’ve wanted to find the right words, to write a blog post that is meaningful and touching and just right. Today, on March 31st, which is Transgender Day of Visibility, I’m going to stop trying to find the right words. Because what I do is take pictures, and document families authentically. That’s my passion and purpose. I hope you will look at these pictures, and I hope you will really see this family, and this little girl, for the amazing people they are. I hope that seeing them will be what it takes for just one of you to look at the world differently, to see others, or yourself, with more love and patience and kindness.

Jamie and Rebekah have been all over the media this year, speaking and writing and advocating. Please visit Jamie’s blog to read and listen to what she and Rebekah have to say. You will be inspired.

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