School pictures have been around forever. Every year, it’s basically the same thing. The school sends home an envelope with a notice about school pictures and an order form. Then, parents pick a nice outfit and send their kids off to school so that a stranger can spend two minutes taking a quick picture of your child against a hanging backdrop. Game, set, match.
Of course, it isn’t quite that simple. For starters, there are always the kids (or parents) that forget it’s picture day so they show up wearing that mustard stained shirt. Then, they don’t take things like Gym or recess into account, so that carefully styled hair might look a little crazy (or, just as bad have ONE piece sticking straight up).
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Expensive School Pictures
School pictures can be very expensive, but there are ways to get a good deal on school pictures.
First, feel free to go a la carte. School picture companies make a lot of extra money by getting you to spring for a package of pictures you may not need. Does anyone really use, or carry wallet-sized pictures anymore? Do you really need six 5x7s? Before you tick the box next to the “most popular” package, do the math to see how much it costs to get just the pictures you really want. The difference may surprise you.
Free School Pictures
At almost all schools, the way the deal works is that the photographer takes pictures of all the kids, whether they order or not. Then, those pictures end up in place like the yearbook. If you don’t want school pictures, you don’t have to order them, but they’ll still get a nice picture in the yearbook.
Take School Pictures Somewhere Else
Remember that just because someone is taking your kids’ pictures at school doesn’t mean that has to be their school picture. You can take a million pictures for free in your local park, or outdoor area, or just in your backyard. Set your digital camera to its highest quality settings (the ones that take the biggest pictures) and fill up your memory card with poses and smiles. Chances are, when you get them to the computer, there are at least a few you would want to use as a school picture. Then, have those photographs professionally printed by Snapfish, Shutterfly, or the like for much cheaper than you get those school photos.
You can also book a free photography appointment with a photo studio, or many stores like Target. They may not be the best photographs ever taken, but they can certainly rival the photograph of your child that gets taken in the same light, in the same pose, in just two tries in the school cafeteria. Just remember that they push expensive photograph packages as well. Usually the best advice is to take a list of what you want and stick to it. Don’t pay for upgrades like digitally inserted butterflies or words.
School Picture Retakes
Deciding whether or not to have retakes can be a stressful decision. The shots you have now are good, but you think they could be better. Of course, they could also be a lot worse. To hedge your bets, scan the first pictures on your highest quality settings. Borrow a friend’s scanner if yours isn’t good enough. Then, go do the retakes.
If you like the retakes, keep them (you paid for them.) If you don’t, stick them in a drawer and have your originals printed out (you paid for them too, remember?) Either way, you can have the pictures you want to keep.