Friday, May 6, 2011

Saving Money on Portrait Studios

Sorry for my silence lately.  Life just keeps happening!  I have lots of "catch up" posts that I need to write, but for today I just decided to write a "fun" post about saving money on portrait studios.  Hope you enjoy!

In this age of digital photography, some moms may find studio portraits of their kids to be an unnecessary expense.  However, I admit to still liking the formal look that I find it hard to replicate with snapshots.  So once a year or so I put together matching outfits and drag the kids (or even the whole family) down to a studio.  I've always been happy with the finished product.

Now, you can spend a LOT of money on portraits, and the pricing and packages are often set up to have you do just that.  However, in the past five years or so that I've been having portraits made, I've discovered a few secrets to saving money.  Here are the important tips to remember:

- Get coupons - There's no excuse for not bringing coupons to a photo session.  Every department and big box store studio, as well as independent outlets such as The Picture People, has coupons, usually both in newspapers and online.  Almost every studio will have a coupon available for a portrait package for $9.99 or less, which usually includes 5 or 6 portrait sheets of the same pose.  Get one of these coupons if you possibly can, as that is a huge savings and that package can form the bulk of your order.

- Note any fees in advance - Some portrait studios have "sitting fees," and some do not.  (A sitting fee is just like it sounds; it is a fee for doing the photo shoot before you buy any pictures.)  Your best bet is to find a studio with no fee; that way if your photo session is a disaster, you can leave without spending a penny (not that I'm speaking from experience here ;-).  If the studio does charge a fee, you can often find coupons that waive it.  Just make sure you understand if the fee is per sitting or per person, and make sure the whole fee is waived.

- Plan your poses - It took me a while to realize this, but more poses equals more money spent!  If you let the photographer take a ton of different poses with different backgrounds, different props, different groupings of the kids, etc., it's going to be much harder to pick only one or two shots.  You can certainly get some cute shots that way if you're open to spending a little more, but if you're on a tight budget, at least stick to one grouping of your subjects (no individual shots).  Then you won't have to be in the position of saying no to too many adorable poses.

- Get online access - More and more studios are getting with the times and giving you online access to your photos, making it simple for you to order more prints and share the sitting with friends.  For a few studios, this service is now free and comes with your order, but for others it is a still a paid (but usually inexpensive) option.  In my opinion, online service is worth the small cost, especially for the ease of sharing your photo session with friends and family for you whom you could not order prints, but who would still like to see the photos and perhaps purchase some themselves.

- Be detached - I always tell myself as I look at all the adorable shots of my kids, "These are my kids.  I can see them smile whenever I want!"  Unless you order the photo CD (which at most places tends to be only with packages of around $80 or more), chances are that you're going to have to pass on a couple of really cute pictures.  However, I always ask myself, "Is this the picture I was envisioning?  Where would I display it?  Am I really going to wallpaper my house with ten pictures from the same photo shoot?!"  I definitely will not say that I've never ordered more than I planned, but I do try to remember that there will always be more pictures.

Next week, I plan to share with you which store has my favorite portrait studio and why!

Do you get formal portraits of your kids taken?  How do you save on the cost?

Check out more money-saving tips at Frugal Fridays.

Photo by Vincitrice.

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