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That Will Cost Me How Much?

The rising expense of children's photos breaking Montco Mommy.

Don’t get me wrong. I love capturing the rare moments of my children’s childhood on film. Er, should I say, on digital cards and websites. Regardless of the format, I realize that these young years are fleeting, and pretty soon my husband and I will be sitting her with an empty nest wondering where all the good times have gone.

And, while you’ve already heard my rants over the challenges of having professional portraits of your children taken, I have one more unique bit of photography frustration to vent about here. The quantity of photos a parent is bombarded with in the span of one school year is pretty shocking to me.

I grew up with school pictures. Who didn’t? And, as much as we’d like to forget most of them, they chronicled our awkward, painful growing years. They were crucial to future embarrassing pre-date moments, and made for awesome parental blackmail material. I think everyone should have proof of such fun times to cherish forever.

So, for all those reasons and of course a few actual sentimental ones, I want at least one school picture from each kid, each year. You are already talking about $100 right there, minimum.

For some reason, at my son’s school, they feel your children change SO much in 365 days that they want to capture them at least twice. Our school shoots one set of school pictures in the fall, and another again in the spring.

For some OTHER reason I forget this fact every year. I think I just get so excited to see the fall ones that I forget to restrain myself and either NOT buy any or buy very few. I’m just so eager to show off my new (enter new grade-level here) child, I buy at least one small package. I’m now in debt one small fortune. It’s OK, both kids don’t need new sneakers, right?

The real bummer is in the spring the photos are better. But, there is a catch. The company, which I think uses nicer poses and backgrounds just get real in us sucker parents come spring, also uses another interesting sales ploy to really hit you where it hurts: in the purse strings.

Instead of sending home the easily-ignored photo order form, they instead send home a packet of already-printed images. And they are always gorgeous. (OK, maybe it is those kids IN the pictures.) Now, not only have your kids seen them, begging endlessly that you not only buy the full package but the fun key chains and buttons too, but so have you. It’s over. You are suckered. You shell out a few hundred more bucks.

Now with my second child also going through the same routines, I will need a third mortgage on my house by middle school. You add to these two rounds of school photos to the four sports, times two kids, well… we have a lot of professional photos of the kids. And they are great, but man, are we broke.

I wish you could just get a small photo, for your own use, at a low cost. That’s all I want. I don’t need 52 images in an oversized package and their photo on the cover of ESPN Magazine. I probably don’t need another key chain or trading card, and the team photos? I bet my son can’t name half the kids in it.

This weekend, we just shot baseball photos. I’d like to say I stuck to my guns. I’d like to say I forked over less than a $20. I’d like to say I didn’t succumb to a pale, begging freckled face and put my foot down. I’d like to… but I can’t.

Looks like I’m in for several more years of photos (and debt). Excuse me, I have to go make room on my key chain.

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