Maegan Dougherty Photography » NJ Birth and 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!

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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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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 birth 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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If you are expecting a baby and and have started researching birth doulas and birth photography, I would love to hear from you!


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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Last year around this time we were planning a trip to meet my parents (who live in Montana) in Florida to visit them and my Grandma. Since we drove all the way to Montana from New Jersey and back the summer before, driving to Florida sounded like no big deal, and actually a lot of fun. We decided to make a 12 day trip of it, and take our time to explore the east coast on our way down. We left on April 2nd with plans to stay with my friend in Maryland that night, to be in Jacksonville April 8th, and in Vero Beach on the 10th. We planned to stop at my aunt’s condo in NC for a night, but didn’t have solid plans other than that. We had our camping gear, and were just going to see how things went and figure it out along the way. 🙂 Also, we were doing this trip on a very very small budget.

Day 1: Gettysburg – souvenir pennies, passport stamps, old weapons, Abe Lincoln, a drive around with some stops to walk around. Maryland – Spent the night at my high school friend Holly’s house. Loved chatting with her and her husband and mom. The boys and her daughters had so much fun together. Realized how nice it is to visit with other people while traveling.

Day 2: Washington, DC – more passport stamps, National Air and Space Museum, food, National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden, Starbucks (because iced coffee is very important for Daddy), and drove to a hotel for the night.

Day 3: Jamestown Settlement in Virginia. We really enjoyed the re-creation of a Powhatan Indian village. Looked at old ships, and a colonial village. Took a ferry ride and then a five hour drive, with a stop for a Mexican dinner, to North Carolina.

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Another post with North Carolina pictures coming soon!