Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Picture Game

I love my children.  I do.  I want to capture as many memories in pictures as possible to cherish forever.  I take pictures of them pretty much constantly.  I have literally thousands of images captured, some printed, some saved, some to scrap book, or pass out to family, or what not.  I have memory card and cd on top of memory card and cd of stored images of my beautiful girls.  I love taking their picture, and being the hams that they both are, they love it when I do.  We take random poses of the day just for fun.  We do grumpy shots, happy shots, look at my outfit shots, and anything else I can think of, just to capture them as they are in the moment, forever.

That ins't enough, though.  On top of all those I take myself, not being a professional photographer, I have special dates captured by professional photographers as well.  Several times a year, we pay big bucks for photos by someone else.  Someone with a better camera, at the very least.

When The Girls were each born, I took them in for photos.  The Big One got photos every three months, like clock work, until her first birthday.  The Little One got a modified version of that, but pretty close.  After that, we did pictures on their birthdays, Easter, and Christmas.  That would be two times a year together, and then once alone for their birthday.  That would be four sittings worth of pictures.  Since The Big One is in school now, we opt to skip her birthday pictures, and instead purchase the school photos that she gets twice a year, fall and spring.  So, now, we pay for pictures 5 times a year.  When The Littlest One comes, the first year will pretty much be spent in the portrait studio, and then afterward we will be there 6 times a year.
In all honestly, I combine anything I can at this point.  So, with both of the two younger ones having a birthday that will always be near Easter, that sitting gets combined so that we purchase less portraits, but still, were talking a whole lot of photos.
More importantly, were talking a whole lot of money.  The amount that we spend on pictures is probably obscene.  I would venture, that if we totaled together what we have spent on photos since The Big One was born, we could have bought a car with it.  I'm not saying that it would be a nice car, but we aren't talking total hoopty, either.  I know for certain that it is easy to spend as much as a car payment in each sitting, even with coupons, deals, etc.  They want you to.  They lure you in.  They have images of your children in front of you, and they keep telling you how cute they are, how beautiful that smile is, and so on.  As a parent, you feel like an ass if you don't just gush, and buy lots of pictures.  Also, I am a straight up sucker when it comes to my kids.  So, I end up buying a ton.
Not only do you spend a ton, but when you think about it, photography has to be one of the most lucrative businesses as far as profit margin goes.  While you do buy expensive equipment up front, it can't take many shoots to cover the costs of that equipment.  The printing isn't that bad.  We all know that because if you have your pictures printed at a photo printing place, even some place like Costco, they are still making a profit, and the per sheet price is pretty low.  That, and you can actually add up what it would cost to buy the sheets of photo paper and ink, and realize, those people are making bank.
It totally depends on what kind of photographer you get, but I can't imagine coming away with less than $100 a shoot.  Unless, of course, you are able to go into a Wal-Mart, take pictures, use on of their $7.99 deals that only gives you one pose, generally not the best shot they take, and walk away with just that.  I am not one of those people.  I am not strong willed enough to leave all those adorable shots of my children off in some computer, never to see the reflective glare from a photo album.  If you go to a professional to do a location shoot, you may as well think in the $200-300 minimum range.  Some of them charge location fees, and then their printing is pretty pricey.  I like to purchase the media and rights to the photos if I can, and then print my own.  That, though, is often in the $200 range for the CD.  Even school pictures are insanely expensive these days.  That CD is probably the cheapest that I have seen, though, at about $50.
We are talking a ton of cash.  Its one of those things that when you try to look at it like this, objectively with out your heart strings attached, you have to wonder why you spend so much.  It's just so hard to do, though.  People can charge that much, because we keep coming back and are end up agreeing to pay that much. I'm not by any means suggesting a boycott of photographers.  At all.  I appreciate what photographers can do.  It really is an art form, and something that I don't seem to have an aptitude for.  I have yet to be able to capture some of those gorgeous images that other people can of my children.  Maybe I don't have the eye for it.  Maybe I just need a really expensive camera, that would end up paying for itself if I quit paying photographers.  Either way, if you need me after the baby is born, just call the local J.C. Penny's studio and ask for me, I'm sure I will be there, buying yet another set of unbelievably cute prints of my children, and wincing when they tell me the total.