This piece is in the December 2013 edition of Monroe County Parent.
By Paula Wethington / Monroe on a Budget
Christmas season is when many families in Monroe County, Mich., schedule an annual visit to the portrait studio.
While this is a lovely custom, especially when the photos can be sent with Christmas cards, the cost of professional photography services adds up fast. Based on what I’ve heard from other families, there can be stressful conversations during the years when finances are tighter than usual but parents feel like they need to “keep tradition.”
That’s why I’m glad my husband and I never insisted on an annual appointment, or decided to follow someone else’s suggestions for the timing of family studio pictures. We book a studio appointment when we wish to, or an occasion presents itself.
Here’s how that worked out with my daughter: I had one studio photo taken when she was born, one when she was about a year old and another when she was about two. All other formal photos of my daughter when she was growing up resulted from school picture sessions, First Communion, a dance recital, three times during her Girl Scout years, and her senior year pictures.
The portrait sessions that were couple pictures, or our entire family, included when my husband and I were engaged, when we got married, a family reunion and a formal banquet in which photo studios were on site, and participating in two church directories.
My husband and I decided to sit for a new portrait this month after we realized it had been 10 years since any of those studio photos were taken.
Regardless of the occasion or reason, here are three budget-minded tips when you decide to book a studio appointment:
- See samples of the photographer’s work. When I was shopping for a wedding photographer, I eliminated one possibility after seeing someone’s portfolio. They were nice pictures, and affordable. But they were not the style I wanted.
- Get a price sheet before picture day. This will help you make informed decisions before you go to the studio. After I reviewed the price sheet for our picture session this month, I decided how much we would spend and how many prints to get.
- Find out who actually wants pictures. It’s one thing to order Christmas cards, or swap size photos. The budget busters are the 5 by 7 and larger photos. Before you order those, ask whether you or a loved one really want a current picture, or would someone prefer to keep a old favorite on the wall or mantel?