Portraits- Will More Expensive Mean Better?

We went and got our annual portraits done yesterday. Portraits are something I feel enormously guilty about purchasing for some reason. I hate spending money on them. We only get them once per year, and in the past we had them taken at Walmart. I think part of the reason I hate paying for them is that they were so poorly done there. I have so much trouble just trying to get the person to center my children in the picture. I think they train them to get the baby's attention and push the button- it doesn't matter where they are in the frame!

That's why I get very upset every year when I pay $30 for my off-centered pictures. I dread the whole thing. This year, I decided to get them done at JcPenney rather than Walmart- I was hoping they would be that much better- and I had a coupon which would make it only slightly more expensive than Walmart's bargain package and few extra sheets we normally buy.

When we got there yesterday, the lady called us in front of an earlier appointment and we rushed in there for less than 10 minutes and we were done. I am afraid to get the portraits back. I felt bad asking the lady to retake the pictures again and again but I can tell on the monitor that I don't like them. I got my three small children all dressed up and clean and bought special clothes and I am paying a lot for these pictures- shouldn't I at least get one pose I like?

I ended up getting a portrait club membership because it was the same price as the sitting fee. It supposedly saves you a sitting fee on everyone for two years, which would make getting future portraits much cheaper.

The problem is, I think I just spent $47 on pictures that I am going to hate- and that is very scary to me. I just really hope the portraits turn out better than they looked on the monitor. We are going to pick them up the Saturday before Christmas.

Next year, I am seriously considering saving up money to buy some used studio lighting equipment and taking the pictures myself. At least I know the photographer would spend more than 10 minutes on my children- and I wouldn't have to worry about their clothes getting ruined on the trip there! ;)


  1. I hope you like the pictures. If you don't, will they give you your money back? Hope so.

    I think a homemade portrait at home is a great idea. It's more natural, you're in a natural setting (home!) instead of in front of a weird backdrop.

    I think photos that show emotion and personality are much better than "everyone look at the camera! say cheese!" that you get at a portrait studio.

    If you don't have a timer on your camera, you can maybe ask a friend or neighbor to help you out. Give them some Christmas cookies and they'll do it for sure :)

    Good lighting is important, and if you can get a hold of a tripod, even better. That should eliminate shakes and blurs.

  2. Photographs are one area I just don't skimp on. And by that I mean I will spend a lot on them to go to a professional studio/photographer not affiliated with a national chain to get them done. Since I decided to do this I have spent way more on pictures, but they are always fabulous!

  3. Kacie- thanks for the tips! :) I didn't ask about their return policy- I think that's a great idea though! I would think they would be willing to work something out.

    Noah- I am learning that the hard way I guess- lol! Pictures are really important to me as well, and I had no idea when I started that it would be so difficult to get a decent picture from a store chain! :) I am thinking we might have to start saving more money for better annual portraits if we don't go the DIY route! I do hope they turn out better than I expect them to so I don't feel bad about spending so much on them this year~ :)

  4. I am a professional photographer - and I understand your pain. The family portrait is stressful - and doing it yourself with make it no less so. You will stress out and you will want it perfectly and keep everyone smiling until you get it "just right". I would recommend getting a referral to a local - lots (like me) work only on word of mouth. Because I don't have a studio does not make my work any less professional - I just like working on location and with natural light. My work is MUCH more natural than studios and I capture what people are like - not just what they LOOK like (as most studio/church directory photos do). Talk to friends, google child photogaphers and on-location photographers in the local area
    - I doubt you'll be disappointed if you get one highly recommend and see a good sample of their recent work.

  5. Oh - can I ever relate.

    I found the cheapest pictures I could get, pretty decently still, was at Sears. They send out coupons and have some on their website. $10 for 35 pictures (though about 12 are the size smaller than wallet size and are not much good for anything other than the kids crafts). For about another $15 you can get a card where the sitting fees are "free" for a year.

    This is what I figure. I am getting what I paid for. I could pay more - but then I'd not be able to get the pictures done as often as I like and the pictures are usually "good enough".

    But let me tell you - the hassle you go through...and the photographers are clearly unprofessional "say cheese", they say and take a very fake looking picture. And then I tell them I am not wanting any of the extras - hoping they won't waste time - but they always insist they HAVE to take a certain amount of pictures and then they make me wait 1/2 hr while they "enhance" the photos I am NOT going to ever choose.

    Anyway - I know at Sears, if you don't like the pictures - they'll give you a refund, or take the pictures over.

    Like I said - most of the times, the pictures are good enough - and actually this last time the pictures turned out FABULOUS! And that is a rarity.


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