Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Why I've Never Bought School Pictures... And I Never Will

My oldest daughter brought home a school picture order form on Friday.

To make sense of this post, you need to know that I'm... frugal. Perhaps excessively so. I've worn shoes until they literally disintegrated and I found myself walking down the street barefoot.

On the rare shopping trip that isn't for food, I'll put items in my cart and then ask myself, "Do we really need this?" and put them back a few minutes later. I'll do this at the dollar store, people.

The dollar store.

So if you send my child home with a photo order form where the "Most Popular" package costs $82.10, please understand when I politely burn it.

Don't get me wrong, I love pictures. I love taking pictures of our family's comings and goings.

Why I've Never Bought School Pictures... And I Never Will  -- Some things in life just aren't worth $100. Like school pictures of ONE of my kids with her eyes half-closed.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}Every year on the kids' birthdays I even make an appointment to get their pictures done at a place that doesn't have broken party favors, balled-up socks, and abandoned bowls of raisins in the background like at our house.

Such a studio usually isn't difficult to find, and unlike the "Best Value" package offered by the company our school uses, doesn't require me to fork over a sum equal to my monthly mortgage payment for photos of all of my kids.

For instance, I can use a coupon at J.C. Penney and bring home a boatload of prints for $36. I can get any number of poses, even ones besides yearbook mug shots. I can get some of the kids together. One year my daughter even brought her violin for pictures.

The department store ones appear to be as good a quality as the ones sent home from the school, possibly even better since the school ones have a 65% chance of leftover PB&J remnants smeared on their faces from lunch. (There's a reason you have to send in the check for $296.50 before you see what you're actually buying.)

It's nothing personal. I just don't have a need for a dozen copies of identical head shots of my daughter looking like, well, like she's tired of waiting in line behind 50 other kids for her turn all morning.

Now on the other hand, when my daughter's soccer league sends home order forms for spring soccer pictures, I won't be polite at all about burning those. I can take a picture of her on the grass in her uniform perfectly well by myself.

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  1. hahaha! I see a perk of being homeschooled as that not a single "school photo" exists of me. I don't think I've ever seen one that actually looked nice...they just look weird. And they're that expensive?

  2. I had to get retakes every year until I was a sophomore in high school. I always hated them. I don't know if I'll buy them or not but I can take a great picture if my kids and buy it for way cheaper.

  3. I was going to write about this, but you stated it pretty clearly. I have received back some school picture samples I couldn't even believe that the photographer wasn't drunk when they took them or had their eyes closed when they told my child to smile, because the pictures were so terrible!

  4. This is so true!! Good for you! I'm learning to be more frugal, but I did bust out school pix money once of twice. Ok, a lot. I was not a photographer! Blogging has made me try!
    Dollar store, haha!

  5. I have to admit, I have bought them... but they are really not the best photos of my kids, by far... I need to be stronger and say no :)

    1. It's harder if your school actually sends home prints regardless of whether you've bought them (I didn't know some schools did this) and your cute little child is hugging the envelope to his/her chest saying, "Do you want to keep my pictures, Mommy?"

  6. We are doing preschool for the first time this year and I am dubious about picture day. We will see how much they want. But you are right: those pictures are generally AWFUL. I stand in solidarity with you.

    1. The portrait company they brought in to my daughter's preschool was actually really good, they were like a portrait studio in that they did all kinds of cute poses and even gave everybody a free tote bag with a photo collage on it! I didn't look at the cost because at the time we were in grad school living off of Phillip's research stipend and didn't even have money to buy nice toilet paper. So.