Maegan Dougherty Photography » NJ Birth and Family Photographer

My April 2017 Experiment: Pay What You Can for Family Photography

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 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.

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