March 2016 Moms

Family Portraits

I searched the board and don't think I found any discussion related to this.  We want to start a family tradition with family portraits around Christmas time but some of these professional photographers are so darn expensive!  The ones we did last year at Picture People were alright but I feel like they totally ripe you off if you want any digital copies.  Not to mention that they only spend about 15 minutes with each seating.  DD fell asleep right before our session (she was 6 months old) and the photographer made us wake her up.  The photos obviously didn't turn out good because she was cranky.  We still got some and I think it's good memories either way.

1. Does your family take regular professional photos?  If so, how often?  And who do you include (like your parents, siblings etc.)?
2. Do you hire someone professional to do it?  Or go to those chain places like Picture People and JC Penny?
3. If you have young kids, what's your recommendation to make sure they are ready to smile at the camera?

Re: Family Portraits

  • I think @skruhmin pretty much hit all the points I was going to say. We've been bad about getting everyone together at the same time and looking the same direction so I just take a bunch and make my own collages. :)
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  • Now that DS1 is older we do pictures once a year in December. His birthday is in December so they double as year pictures, birthday and family fall/Christmas photos. It's just the two of us and DS.  We normally have a photographer do they at an outdoor setting. With DS2 coming in March I decided to forgo the December pictures and do family/maternity pictures in Feb. I didn't want to pay twice since it is so expensive. I purchased a package from our photographer for DS2's first year. It allows you to do newborn, 3 month, 6 month, 9 month and 12 month of the baby for about 100.00 a session. We won't be in all of those but DS1 can. After that we will go back to the once a year family pictures. No tips for getting everyone to smile except avoid nap times, late afternoon (was always bad for us too) and honestly it was always hit or miss until last year when DS1 was three and understood to smile (he loves taking pictures now).

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  • We always do a family picture for Christmas and send Christmas cards to our family. My kids get pictures at school now but before we always did birthdays to. We use a small local photographer and she is great with kids and doesn't rush compared to a chain place that try to get as many people in out quickly and may not be as well trained. The photographers at those places still get paid whether or not you buy their pictures.
  • We have friends who have a little girl who is just a year older than my DS.  We make a plan to meet up somewhere for holiday pictures, and then she takes pictures of us, and I take pictures of them.  They're not fancy, but we both have the same higher end camera and aren't bad shots.  For pro shots, like newborn etc, we really lucked out with one photographer; she's amazing, and only $200 for session plus full rights to 40 pictures.  We've used her twice now, and we'll use her again for this one's newborn shots.
  • We do family pictures every year around the holidays. We also do newborn pictures and one year pictures. Once we are past everyone's newborn and one year sessions after this baby, we may start doing little mini sessions in the spring or summer while they are little, because they change so quickly it seems like! We have only ever done myself, my husband, and our kids.

    We use a photographer. We did the picture people for our sons first Christmas when he was five months. It turned out okay, but I much prefer the ones we get from the photographer, especially since they are usually outside. I always hesitate because they seem so expensive, but after the fact, I never regret spending the money on it. The pictures are all over our house and in albums and I just love them! Our photographer also just gives us the pictures, so it's not like we have to pay up charged prices for prints, which I like.

    As far as smiling for pictures and looking at the camera, I am not above some food bribery. When they are little we have used puffs and yogurt bites, then fruit snacks and lollipop licks for older toddlers. The photographer or one of us (if we aren't in the picture) holds it and zooms it around behind them and it works every time for my kids!

  • We get a family photo done each year. Sending out our family Christmas card is an obsession of mine and something I look forward to every year! The photographer that I usually go with does mini sessions each Fall. They are $80 for 30 minutes and we get a disc of 20-30 pictures.
  • You get what you pay for. If you don't want to pay a professional than you'll get less than professional quality. Those chain places just heard people in and out. Same goes with new photographers running deals who haven't worked with kids.

    A professional is going to know how to interact with children. You shouldn't have to worry about that - that's what they're there for. And they'll give you tips and ideas on how to prep the kids to get ready so they're less likely to melt down.
  • jmathi0149jmathi0149 member
    edited November 2015
    We do fall family pictures every year.

    We use a professional photographer who does 30 minute mini sessions for $200. For $200 we get 15 edited files with full rights and just print our own pictures. 30 minutes is the perfect amount of time. Anymore than that and kids get restless. This year we took our from 4-4:30. DS (14 months) wakes up around 3.

    Edit to say we take all of our pictures outside! We did DS newborn pictures outside. Not sure it's going to work for baby girl in March though.
  • We did newborn and 6 month pictures for DD and I cannot wait to do newborn/family pictures with DD2. I don't do family pictures every year though because (jmo) how many pictures do you really need? We have a nice camera and I take so many pictures throughout the year inevitably I have a couple of favorites that get framed. Not to mention the other 3000+ that get put in a yearly album. So all of that to say that I'd rather wait and spend the money for really great pics every couple of seasons than do a studio just because.
  • We also do high quality professional family portraits every few years, or whenever we add a new person to our family, which seems to be about every 2.5 years lol. Our last ones were almost 4 years apart. We end up spending a small fortune on those by the time all prints are ordered and framed, they've been anywhere from $2-3k, and to be completely honest I would have waited until next year if I had known we were going to get pregnant a week after we had them taken this year.
    We have a friend who is a 'professional' photographer who will come to your house/outdoor location and do a shoot for $100 and give you about 15 edited images. To be honest she's totally hit or miss and not nearly as good as pricier photographers we've used. But she was good for newborn photos and I'll probably use her again for that.
    In my experience, obviously the more young people in the picture the more difficult it becomes. And also once my kids are mobile, but not old enough to understand what's going on, pictures are very difficult. They literally just get up and leave. Or cry if you don't let them. Try to go in with realistic expectations!
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  • I have never done professional photos with any of my babies/pregnancies. The last time (and only) time we hired a professional was for our wedding and the results were less than stellar.

    We upgraded our camera when DD (our first) was about 8 months old. Since then, any "planned" family photos have been taken by a friend or family member who knows how to work our camera and is good at photography, but not necessarily a professional. To be honest, I'm happier with those photos than with what I see from a lot of professionals and definitely happier with them than the traditional sit-for-a-portrait style. I'm not knocking ALL professional photographers, there are some truly amazing and hardworking ones out there who are worth paying, but we don't have that kind of money in the budget. ;) We get a lot of use out of our camera and it was a better investment for us. I love capturing day-to-day moments. :)

    Oh and as far as smiling at the camera . . . find someone to take the pictures that they really like! (In our case, it's usually a beloved aunt.) And take them outside, my favorite family photos are on swings and a merry-go-round. Again, if you're going for a more casual style where not every photo is posed and looking at the camera, you'll get some really nice shots. Any time I try to force my kids to look at a camera, they automatically don't. ;)
    It's a boy! Born 42 weeks, 2 days.
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  • We've done family photos for a few years now. Just my hubby, our 2 girls and I. We have gone to your typical photo studio (Target, Portrait Innovations...) but I've always wanted to do outdoor pics. So this year we're going for it! I was able to score an awesome deal through Groupon that includes and hour session, a few prints and all rights and access online to print whatever I want! I'm really excited. I live in Texas, By the way, so it's not like we'll be outside getting frost bitten ;)
  • Check out professional photographers that offer mini-sessions. We used one that usually costs $300-$500 for family photos but does 20 minute Christmas minis. We're decently photogenic so we usually get about 20 great photos with full rights for about $60.

    My favourite photography tip is to bring your child's favourite toy and let it be in the pic. My son's stuffed bunny was in last year's Christmas pics and it was not only adorable but he was super pumped to have "Jelly" in there!

    Post baby we'll shell out the cash to have a professional photographer come to our house and take family/newborn photos. We're not fan of the typical newborn photos but we love having pics of us in-house doing our thing with a new baby.
  • We use the walk in places for milestones, just to ensure they are captured- did dd monthly during first year. Now she gets them yearly as well as family professional outside with someone who costs far more than I even care to acknowlege. Then daycare and semi prof and extended family thrown in the mixture. I've already put a deposit down on someone semi prof to come to the hospital when baby is born- day or two after, but she will do more than the hospital provides, and I'll probably buy from both. I did pregnancy shoot first time around- I don't know if I will this time. My husband is really good at actually printing the photos off our phones and camera every 6 months or so, so we already filled about 10 albums from dd. I like looking at those just as much as the professional. Muddy messes, sneaking in fridge, and bath time is way cuter sometimes.
  • April lurker - sorry for the novel, photography is one of my obsessions :)

    My biggest recommendation for happy kiddo's in pictures is to have low key sessions with someone used to working with kids/families. If your photographer is good with kids, they will know to trade off more formal "poses" with candids of them "running" around, you playing together or even comforting the random meltdown.

    We did a $650 newborn/4mo/8mo/1 year package for DD and will do something similar for DS in April. We pay for them with a professional who gives digital rights. With DD each session was about an hour and 30-40 pictures - 10ish of just her and the rest a combination of her with Mom, Dad or as a whole family. (collage of some of her 1 year session attached) Hopefully with DS it will be the same just with a few of just DD and DS. I do amateur photography for family and friends and am confident I can take pictures of them individually, but I'm behind the camera 99% of the time at home and wanted to be sure to be in (non-selfie) pictures too. DH's late father was their family photographer so DH only has a handful of non-portrait studio posed pictures of him with his Dad, and it bugs him enough to not mind spending the money on professional pictures.

    DD and future DS are (most likely) conveniently timed to do family pictures in May (within a month of their birthdays) and November (half birthdays/Christmas) once we get past DS's first year. We will likely do the mini sessions many PPs have mentioned. We're doing a "double mini" for Christmas and DD's 18 month next weekend because I'm nervous about how well she'll cooperate now that she's mobile and teething again.

    As for including anyone else, our parents both try to do extended family pictures every few years/new addition, so I would guess we'll get them done next summer whenever everyone is in town.
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  • I'm realizing how much pricing can vary by location. Obviously the level of professionalism varies, but it wouldn't be extreme to be quoted several hundred dollars for a 1 hour outdoor family shoot in my area- which would include rights to 20ish images. If you find someone with lower sitting fees, they get you for crazy prices on prints because you don't get the rights to the pics. Now days I think it's common for photographers to spend a lot of time editing, and personal investments in their equipment. I've never been disappointed. But dang these prices sometimes! 3k was a "cheap" option when I was looking for my wedding- that was for like 6 hours of day of coverage. Quotes up to 5-6k were common. This is why I'm occasionally open to jcpenny, etc! For frequent milestones.
  • I am a professional photographer and our prices are accualy per image because of all the editing our goal is for every photo to look like a piece of artwork so just depending on quality you would like
  • edited November 2015
    I agree the price range is totally dictated by location. I'd jump at $650 for a first year package. I am having trouble finding just NB photography for under 6 or 7 hundred. It's just not something I can justify knowing that I'll be paying hospital/insurance bills, my health insurance OOP while I am on leave and not to mention the not getting paid 100% while I am on leave thing. Instead my mom has decided to get us a nice camera for Christmas (and my last birthday and my next birthday lol) so I hope to do a lot of studying/practicing on that before future DS arrives.

    Me: 29  DH: 31
    Married 10/13/12
    TTC Since 8/2016

  • Katherine8908Katherine8908 member
    edited November 2015
    I guess im in the minority here...

    For DS I did pictures every 2-3months of his first year and now just summer and Christmas pictures.

    I do go to the picture people yes their busy and not "professionals" but i wait until there is a Groupon deal and pay about $16 dollars for about 8 sheets of prints so I can give to family and friends etc. no offense to anyone but I cannot imagine paying $600+ for any amount of pictures thats just too much money for us to spend for how often we get them..

    As far as good pictures ... I always made sure DS was fed and napped prior to our appointment and they always turned out good .
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