Yes, I Still Pay for School Pictures


It surprises a lot of people who know me and my frugality to hear that I buy school portraits. Every year. Times 3.

There’s just something about the tradition that I can’t let go of. I only buy the CD — it doesn’t give me any actual portraits, but I do get a copyright release to use the images however I want. For $20 each, I have each girls’ school portrait to print at the first sign of a photo deal.

I know, I know. I could get much cheaper prints from a studio or much better portraits from a professional photographer. Still, I just can’t seem to stop myself.

But, here’s the real kicker: I completely adore school portraits.

Where else will you get the cheesy, kindergarten smile no “real” photographer would allow?

When I have their portraits taken professionally, I coordinate outfits, carefully fix their hair, and supervise to be sure we get the look I want. Which is all well and good, but I think school portraits, in the middle of the day, without Mom around can really capture my girls where they are.

I let the girls choose their favorite outfit. (This time around, that meant my 6-year-old went to school in sleeveless on a 70° day, but whatever.) I help them fix their hair — but fully expect it to be a hot mess by pictures. Then I send them on their way.

What happens next no one knows! I eagerly await the delivery every year. Will there be a random hair accessory in the photo? A smudge of dirt on her forehead? A stain on her shirt?

Whatever it is, I know it will be an exact representation of my daughter in that year of school. And, it’s priceless.

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More from Heather:
How to Get Your Kids to Tell You About Their School Day
DIY Portraits: Tips from a Photographer (guest post)

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