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Tuesday, 26 February 2013

How to get great photos for free- or almost

That Guy has every Monday off work.  Typically he works the other six days a week, but the bakery is closed Mondays. He uses Mondays to get lots done- banking, grocery shopping ect- the things I couldn't get done during the day due to running the day care.
One of the extra things I added to his list to get done yesterday was take Audrey in for portraits.
Since our kids both do pageants and my family lives on the other side of the country, up to date portraits of the kids is something we make sure to find time for.

Time- not money.

I have tried to take photos of the kids myself.  Every once in a while I do happen upon a real gem. Most times though, its a battle of wits between myself and the kids.
"Walter- look here at mommy.  Sit up tall. Fingers out of your nose. Audrey, don't climb off the couch, just sit still.  Put your skirt down. Look here. Look here!!!! Gah! Walter, fingers OUT of nose, please bud. Smile. Not like that Walter, a nice smile.  Like you're happy.  Look, mommy will dance for you.  See? Silly dancing makes you laugh.  Well, don't throw your head back to laugh.  Audrey, stop crying, the dancing wasn't that bad.  Walter- put your arm around your sister.  She did not pee on you.....oh, she did. Sorry pal. Lets call it quits here"   You get the idea.

It is totally worth it for me to pay someone else to do this for me. And much more worth it when I don't even have to pay!

A few years ago That Guy and I were in Wal-Mart and I noticed the portrait studio was having a promotion for a package of 36 photos, single pose, for $7.99.  Sounded like value to me. While That Guy went and got what he needed from Wal-Mart I took Walter over to the portrait studio and they got us in right then and there.  The poses and backgrounds were pretty standard. Nice, but average.  The service was great though and the gentleman taking the photos really tried to create something we would want.  At the end of the session, as I went to the front to pay the $7.99 fee I noticed a large prize wheel. I asked if I could spin it- yeah, I'm one of those people who asks stuff like that.  The photo studio employee said of course, it was part of their current promotion. So I spun the wheel and won a Wal-Mart Portrait Smiles Club card. This card entitles me to one free portrait sheet every month of the year, for a year without the need to purchase anything to get the free photo sheet.  WIN!!!
Now, Wal-Mart photos are not super expensive.  But free is free.  The regular price for a sheet is roughly $10. So as long as we remember to take advantage of this every month its a $120 value.  Since I would have got photos of the kids done a few times in a year anyway (with or without the card), its a very real savings of at least $50-60/year.
The regular price for the card is approx $38. Ideally you win one like I did, getting it for free.  But even if you have to spend the $38, it might still be a worthwhile value for you.
And here's another perk.  Once you have the card, renewing it each year is only $5.  You couldn't even get one portrait sheet for that price, so its an immediate value.

I did admit earlier that the first time the shots were very average. Local artisan photographers usually have some very beautiful ideas and can capture breathtaking photos. But the simple truth is that I cannot afford their fees.  I have learned over the past two years how to get the best results from an average studio.

- know what you want.
      Talk to other people about their favorite photos, look over ones that were taken of you as a kid, snoop social media pages until you see a few that really speak to you.

- feel free to bring your own props.
        If your child has a favorite teddy bear your think would be cut in the picture with him, bring it along. If you saw a photo of a child sitiing surrounded by apples, bring lots of apples with you.

- dress them in layers
      The kids wearing layers or having hats/hair accessories to swap out is going to get you the best value for your session because you can change up their whole look by removing their sweater or adding a bow.

- speak up
     tell the photo studio worker what you are looking for (head and shoulders shot/profile/candid/posed) or describe the shot you saw and liked.

- happy, clean, well-rested kids are beautiful!
      Wal-Mart charges a bunch of money for fancy photo edits. You will not see buying into that. Kids are beautiful little people, full of personality and joy.  So plan your appointment time when it makes sense for you and your kids (maybe the middle of snack time or nap is not ideal) and have fun with them about it. Then you wont need any photo edits because your kids will simply shine!

Happy memory capturing, gentle readers.

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