Are Family Portraits Worth the Cost?

We did family pictures!!

In one of my photography classes a girl shared an experience where she planned to take someones maternity photos. The woman wanted to know when the best time to take photos was and she told her that if she waited about 4 weeks a certain flower would bloom that would make a beautiful backdrop. Well the day they had scheduled came around and the woman never showed up. This surprised the gal in my class because she had confirmed with her the day before! A few days later the mother of the client called the photographer and explained that her daughter and the baby had both died.

She shared this story for two reasons 1) to illustrate the importance of our job as photographers 2) to encourage us, when people ask “When is the best time?” to respond AS SOON AS POSSIBLE! I called my mom up and told her we needed to take some family pictures as soon as we were all together this Nov!

I could not stop thinking about this story! About a month ago, the same week I heard this story, I had a friend who’s 2 year old son died of Chemo Therapy Treatment prescribed for his leukemia. It was like one day I was visting her in the hospital while they were running test on some abnormalities and 6 months later he was not going to make it. It’s messed up and sad and should not be that way at all.

My biggest regret is not thinking to snap some pictures for her. But guess what? I learned the hard way that you don’t think about that when something like this happens- and neither does anyone else. You’re just focused on surviving it. It’s something you’ll do “When this is over”, because you can’t bear the though of it ending in a way that wouldn’t make that possible. That’s normal. So what you have to do is get ahead of those things. Noone, NO ONE expects one of these experiences to happen to them. I don’t! I couldn’t even imagine that! Sometimes you can’t even imagine it when it is happening. My mom had cancer when I was young and so did my grandmother but I still don’t see it happening again to anyone I love. That’s probably good- to not live in constant fear- but at the same time we need to prioritize things that we value! Especially our family.

I use to think my job was just cool. And my clients would just be the ‘rich moms’ who would pay me that much. But in all honesty, 100% of my clients are made up of a bunch of normal (whatever that means) but diverse people with average incomes who truly value what I have to offer. I realized slowly that my job isn’t just cool. Yeah, it’s definitely cool, but it’s not JUST cool. It’s important, really important.

This story my dad shared with me growing up came to my mind as I reflected on the death of my friends son.

It’s the story of an Air Force Fighter Pilot in WWII. His plane was shot down by the enemy and he was held in prison for over 2 years. He was presented with the opportunity to send a short message to his family. Knowing he had to make it brief, but also understanding that these would, more than likely, be his last words to his family he, no doubt, chose his words very carefully.

His message was four sentences long. The very last of those four was this “Set goals, write history, take pictures twice a year.” I always laughed a little at the fact that the last thing he said to his family was to take pictures. Was it really THAT important? I understand now, how much it really is.

We live in an age where we have the ability to take photos, constantly. This sometimes lends to the thought that we have enough photos or memories. But I’m sure I’m not the only one who thought they took a million pictures of their newborn the first few days only to look back and say “Where are those?” or “I wish these were better quality so I could print them”.

I would encourage people to take AND PRINT professional quality family photos one time per year, at least.

Sometimes it can be hard to prioritize especially when kids are young and you have so much going on and so many other ways your money can be spent. (Groceries anyone?). But, if you cut out one average fast food trip for a family of 4 per month for a year, that is the ONLY sacrifice you would have to make to afford quality annual family photos! So is the cost worth it? Yes!

I think we should all be more worried about the cost of NOT taking them.

<3 Alyssa

If you’re look for a link to the whole letter written by the WWII Fighter Pilot you can find that here: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/1971/03/a-gift-from-heaven?lang=eng

For my Phollowers: Sometimes it’s us, as photographers, that don’t have any family photos! It should not be that way. Of anyone around we should be the ones who really understand the importance of having these moments captured and printed! You probably have a bunch of pictures of your kids and your spouse (if you shoot together, like we do, then many even a ton of you as well), but none together as a couple or family. Worst case scenario you put on a self timer (not my favorite suggestion at all). Best case scenario you trade with a photographer friend because they need their annual family photos too!

My message for you today is the same as for everyone else reading this. Get. Those. Pictures! E-VVVVEEERRRY Year!

  1. Megan says:

    During a particular year in which I struggled mentally we had planned to get our photos done as a part of our trip to Disneyland. I found a local photography artist, set up a date, set up a non-Disney place and met up. The whole time I felt weird, disconnected, frustrated with two wiggly children and left that session wondering why the heck we even did family pictures. When we got back our finished photos I knew why: all those feelings I had didn’t show. In fact from the photographers perspective told by these captured moments I looked like I truely loved my time with my family and even had fun. Seeing my life from someone else’s eyes was eye opening for me. It told me, in nothing but images, that I was doing alright even through my struggles. THIS is why I think it’s important to get family pictures done and that along with all of your reasonings you mentioned-the cost is worth it!

    • Alyssa Haws says:

      Thank you so much for sharing this! I agree! It is tough getting everyone and thing together sometimes but it has always been worth the struggle!

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