Annual school pictures are a right of passage, a tradition, and source of both joy and embarrassment for years to come. They’re also wicked expensive.
This year, I’m bucking tradition and skipping the school photos.
With four kids in school now, the price tag for school photos has gone up a little higher than my budget really wants to allow. The basic package prices range from $13 to $67. Extra prints, basic re-touching (hides your teen’s hideous acne), premium re-touching (fixes your kid’s jacked-up hair), groovy laser backgrounds, and adding your child’s name (in case you forget) all cost extra.
For $13 it seems I get a couple photos approximately the size of postage stamps. After the second kid, the subsequent kids are half-price. However, this only works for us if both of our schools use the same photography company; last year they did not.
Either way, the cost of school photos for all four kids is about the same price as putting two kids in soccer in my town. And when I weigh the benefits of those two things: photos that are usually pretty meh versus a whole season of activity? Soccer wins, hands down.
And even though it seems like a really cut-and-dry decision, it was still kind of tough. There are certain things we feel like we have to do as parents. It may be because we had them as kids, or because we didn’t have them as kids. It may be because it simply feels like every other parent does it, and therefor we should too.
The kids will still get their pictures taken at school. They will be in the class photo and in the yearbooks; we’ll probably still buy the yearbooks at the end of the year. But since I’m a half-decent shot with a camera, I’m doing their photos myself. If I completely sucked at photography, I’ve seen enough local deals on Facebook to know that I could hire a professional for a quick shoot for about the same cost as school photos for four kids.
Over the next month, I’m going to spend some time with each of my kids individually. I’ll let them choose what to wear, and how we do their hair, and take them out to a park for one-on-one time with mom and a photo shoot.
At some point before Christmas I’ll also take a shot of all four of them, but for now I’m going to take this as an opportunity to do a fun, free, one-on-one activity with each kid. And maybe they’ll end up with a fun memory and a photo that shows their personalities, instead of how straight they can sit in front of a gray backdrop.
And now I’m wondering what other stuff I’ve been doing simply because I thought I had to. Obviously, cleaning and cooking come to mind, but I’m pretty sure the kids really do need food and clean clothes, so I’ll keep doing those things. Any ideas?
(Photo Credit: iStockphoto)
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