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

This couple booked me for birth photography pretty early into the pregnancy, without even a phone conversation. So I didn’t know much about them, other than that I got a good vibe from her e-mail.

In February I drove to their home for a pregnancy photo shoot. When I saw a cozy house surrounded by trees, and a stack of firewood by the garage, it felt like I was arriving at my own childhood home. It was an immediate feeling of comfort and simplicity and warmth, that continued when I met them, and photographed what their life was like as they awaited the birth of their first baby. Getting her room ready. Drinking coffee. Walking in the woods and by the river with their dog. Normal, beautiful stuff. They told me about their life together, their careers, fixing up their house, their feelings about having a baby. And I thought they were wonderful, and couldn’t wait to see them again at the birth of their baby girl.

A New Jersey couple expecting their first baby has a documentary maternity photo session in their home and a park near their house, with their cat and dog, while they get their daughterA New Jersey couple expecting their first baby has a documentary maternity photo session in their home and a park near their house, with their cat and dog, while they get their daughterA New Jersey couple expecting their first baby has a documentary maternity photo session in their home and a park near their house, with their cat and dog, while they get their daughter

If you are expecting a baby, I hope you will consider pregnancy, birth, and newborn photography. The diaper bag and stroller will too quickly be outgrown, you may never use the crib, but these photos will always be treasured. Contact me for more information!

If you are the kind of parent who will show up to meet your photographer with your family dressed in everyday clothes, with remnants of breakfast on your kids’ faces, then wear and nurse your baby, while allowing your other kids to run around and explore in the mud…

I like you. We’re a good match, and I would love to photograph your family! ūüôā

If you live in Bergen County and you have kids, you’ve probably been to Van Saun Park. You might know it for the zoo, train, carousel, and huge playground. In these photographs is my favorite park of Van Saun park, hidden away from the weekend crowds.

In an area with an overwhelming number of highways and malls, which I avoid at all costs, I love¬†spending time enjoying the natural spaces we also have. If you aren’t visiting our parks and nature centers and hiking and bike trails, I hope you will start! If you don’t know where to go, ask me!

And next time you go to Van Saun, instead of (or in addition to) the zoo and playground, take a walk around the pond, and check out Washington Spring Garden. Enjoy! ūüôā

mom brings her small kids to bergen countylittle boys explore a section of van sun park in bergen county

Do you hire a professional photographer to photograph your family? You do? That’s awesome! You have a virtual thumbs up and big smile from me! You are doing something that will be super important now and in the future for yourself and your children. Next question. Have you had your family photographed where you live? In your home? Around your neighborhood? If not, I encourage you to go for it!

To look through photographs with your kids and see your everyday life in them is everything. You probably do this now, swiping through pictures on your phone. Isn’t it special to hear your kids saying, “That’s when we had went for ice cream!” Or “There’s me and Daddy!” Now imagine going beyond the selfies and snapshots. To having a weekend morning at home captured, when you can be completely present with your family. Imagine looking through the images and seeing the table where you eat breakfast together every morning, the bin of little boys shoes that will so soon be big boy shoes. Your kids seeing themselves riding their tricycle and bikes on your own street. Going to the places you go every week. Where would you stop? A favorite store or restaurant or playground? Imagine seeing your own face – not just at that flattering selfie angle – but so filled with LOVE and JOY in a beautiful photograph of you looking at your child.

When you book your family photo shoot this year, will you consider having it not in a pretty park you’ve never been to, or a studio with perfect lighting, but where you live and love? Where your life takes place?

husband and wife restore 1880srow house in newark nj and have toddler boy who will be a big brother soon. they eat pie for breakfast at their dining room table and then put on shoes. they have a dog.two year old boy rides his tricycle around his essex county nj neighborhoodfamily with two year old boy goes for walk around their urban neighborhood in new jersey with photograph family in new jersey shops at whole foods and brings photographer to documentary their day

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…

nj family photographer

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!

IMG_6439 copy

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 questionnaire (watch for new form coming soon for 2018!)¬†I’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.

nj family photographer