Stop Asking for Reasonable: It’s Offensive


Please stop using the word “reasonable” when looking for a photographer/doula/caterer/florist/literally any small business service….

Hey there y’all! As a local mompreneur who owns her own independent birth photography and birth doula business as well as being the co-founder of a collective of doulas, photographers, childbirth educators, and postpartum doulas/newborn care specialists AND mentor to other women in those fields as well… If there’s one thing I know, it’s micro-business. You know, those one-woman shows, or maybe a husband and wife team, or even a couple of besties who have teamed up to create magical work. 

Please stop asking for “reasonable” when what you mean is “cheap” or better yet, “far below market rate.”

Every day I jump onto Facebook or NextDoor or some such site and see about 100 posts that look like this…

“Looking for a reasonably priced photographer for an extended family session of about 20 people on November 20th..” When I read this all I see is, I have all my family together for ONE DAY and need someone on that one day who will spend at least 30 minutes getting to me, set up, manage 20 people, half of whom are likely children, shoot for at least an hour while managing 20 different personalities, getting all the perfect shots, and then will go home and spend hours editing them, maybe doing some head-swapping to deal with toddler tantrums and I only want to pay $100…

Or “just had a baby and looking for a reasonably priced newborn photographer to come to our home.”  This translates to Forgot to book a newborn photographer ahead of time and now my baby is a week old and my husband goes back to work tomorrow so really only today works or the weekend so I’ll need you to be away from your family on the weekend or drop everything today to pack up all your stuff, grab your spotter, and come pose my precious newborn but also take some pictures of the rest of us, then go home and edit out the baby acne, and my bloodshot eyes and make it all look dreamy and perfect but yeah, I only want to pay $75.

Or “ looking for a reasonably priced caterer for a wedding of 75 people in a rural location on February 6th.” I just can’t with this one… 

You guys, it’s offensive. Please stop it. Either post your budget or claim to the world that what you are actually looking for is some poor mom who is desperately trying to make ends meet while pursuing her passion and is a little bit slow right now and you are wanting to underpay her/them.

I get it, we all want the best bang for our buck. I do too. But I also have a unique perspective about what it actually costs to be in business for oneself in both an artistic and solo business. Anyone who is any good at what they do has likely run their CODB (cost of doing business) analysis. We ARE charging what we think is reasonable and likely a bit under that so that we feel “affordable.” I know I am. I promise that we aren’t all sitting around thinking about just how much we can price gouge the consuming public for our products or services. We are always terrified of charging our worth in fear of not getting bookings, of having fewer or further between clients, an inability to do our art or craft, or just simply going out of business.

So please, figure out your budget and ask if someone will work within your budget. But as with so many things in life, you will get what you pay for. If you find someone who is outside your budget whose work you love, it never hurts to ask if they are running any specials or willing to give any discounts etc. I’m always open to those conversations, but don’t expect the answer to be “yes.” It is hard enough for us to set boundaries surrounding what we charge and we really need to, as women especially, to stop asking women to work for free. We’ve come so far and yet every one of these posts demeans the working woman so much! Because, let’s be honest, more often than not it’s the women-run businesses that are being asked to do work for free or at a steep discount. 

And if you can’t comprehend why a service costs what it does, I dare you to ask the provider, in a polite way. They will have a very detailed answer for you. And maybe simply start with asking yourself, what is YOUR time worth?


  1. YES, YES, a thousand times YES!! I just saw someone post that they were looking for someone asking for a cheap place to get her nails dipped because she paid $40 last time and doesn’t want to pay that every time…I commented and told her “If you pay for cheap, you’re going to get cheap”. It is very offensive! As a photographer, I see 10-20 requests a day on Facebook, asking for cheap or reasonable photographer. It makes my eyes burn! Thank you!

  2. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you for succinctly articulating what so many independent workers endure daily. I tell my clients, “You can have it done right, cheap, and fast. Pick two.”

  3. Great article. This is happening where I am in Virginia as well. What’s worse is when your business or personal page is thrown in the comments by some good-intended person. When it comes to the photography portion of an event the budgets are already strained. Mostly due to the clients planning everything else and then figuring that they can “find a cheap”, “make do”, “create a hashtag and do it all on mobile devices”. I’ve had the conversations as to why i charge what I do. I’ve explained the benefits of printing and the long life our products enjoy. The hours of work that are not only on the day of the event. The countless hours and dollars put to education. My insurance, assistants, studio, health and production costs.
    I try to help them see the value of what I produce. It’s hard. They seem to still think the “exposure” has got to be worth more to us as well even after I ask them if the bank takes “exposure” for a mortgage payment or their insurance company takes “dinner and a shout-out” for the monthly bill. I am reasonably priced for what I do, where I do it and how I do it already.
    I am a one-man-show. It happens to us too. A lot.

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