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5 Tips To Save Big On Formal Family Photos

Today I’m sharing what I do to save money on photography, prints, and frames. Take the advise or leave it if you’d like. Though if you love it, please share this post, I would truly appreciate it!

  1. Buy your frame first! I had always wanted a large formal family portrait in an ornate frame, but I put it off for years because I thought it was going to cost at least two hundred dollars between the frame and the print. By taking my time looking, and buying a very large frame I found on the classifieds (for only $10), I saved a ridiculous amount of money! Yes, it took a little work, but I got it to look exactly how I wanted it to so the savings was well worth it! To see that transformation, go here. I also did my one year old wall frames (4 XL frames) all for less than $20, see that post here.
  2. Stop taking so many formal pictures!!! There I said it. You don’t need to professionally document every single holiday or season or more. It’s a huge waste of money, in fact, some people do it so often, they could go on a nice vacation, or buy their own DSLR camera, pay off debt (the smartest thing you could do with it), or possibly live on one income if they just limited themselves to birthdays and maybe one formal family portrait per year. I promise, your kids aren’t going to be devastated and your memories will still be just as sweet, if you take some snap shots yourself throughout the year. Also, if relatives want more than one print, they can buy it themselves, just give them the disk!
  3. Stretch the clothing you buy for a special occasion. This April my little brother got married. I planned ahead and asked what their colors were going to be so I could get my girls some matching dresses made (their sizes span too largely so if I wanted them to match at all I had to get them made. Plus I wasn’t willing to drag them all over creation to find some that would work). Since the wedding was scheduled for the end of April, the Easter Bunny just happened to know what sizes and colors they would need for their uncles wedding…what a smart bunny…wink,wink! These same dresses are what we used for our formal family portrait. If I hadn’t had several plans for these dresses, I would have been pretty upset because the wedding got rained out and two of my girls were sick that day so we didn’t even get to use them at all for the intended purpose. Some people seem to think that they need several new outfits for a photo shoot and that is simply not true! Also, it’s ok to be seen in the same dress a few times, especially if it means that you are living within your means to do so.
  4. Buy your canvas when there is a sale or deal going on. I subscribe to get updates/a newsletter from and they alerted me of a sale to get a 16″x20″ canvas print, shipping included, for $30. It was the exact size that I needed to go with my ornate frame that I made over, so yes, my ornately framed family portrait was a total of $40. It’s ok to wait a little while to find a deal.
  5. Exchange services for photography. If you have any friends that are professional photographers, see if maybe they’d be willing to do a trade. My photographer is a friend that does mine for free and in exchange, I give her tips on running her website and let her advertise on my side-bar. However, other photographers may be willing to trade their work for you to clean their house, do yard work, fix their car,  or even babysit so they can take other (paying) photography jobs. It doesn’t hurt to at least ask! Just be mature about it and make sure that you both feel that it’s a fair trade. It’s NOT ok to expect your friends to do their job 100% for free just because they are your friend.

This post was not meant to ruffle any feathers, just to get you thinking. My motto is that most of the time, life only costs as much as you make it cost. So why not make it cost less by stretching some hard-earned cash? Anyway, that’s all for today folks! ~Sarah

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