School pictures. Just the thought of them makes me shudder. No, I'm not remembering the deer-in-the-headlight stance from my childhood school pictures. It's as a parent, amateur photographer and cheapskate that hate school pictures.
I hate paying $20 or $30 for a package of horrible pictures in sizes I really don't want. Kids give their fakest smiles; the backgrounds are boring, and the photographers simply don't care if a child's hair is standing straight up.
My kids feel differently, though. They like school picture day because they don't have to wear their uniforms, and it's fun to exchange pictures with friends. And, well, they're not paying for them.
But last year in the face of some resistance, I just said no to school photos. Instead, I took school pictures at home, and the results were wonderful (really, even the kids loved them). Plus, I saved a bundle.
I made an effort to take the pictures in the same style and size as school photos--head shots in wallet sizes--so my kids had something to exchange at school. I used a brick wall that's painted white and bathed in diffuse, natural sunlight as the backdrop. I printed them at home. I'm sure even with the cost of the toner and paper, I saved a lot of money.
This year, however, I think I'm going to send in my digital photos for printing. Photo printing websites Snapfish, CVS Photo and Walgreens are just a few of the many companies that allow you to upload digital photos to be printed and then have the photos mailed to you. With CVS and Walgreens, you can pick up photos at a local store for even faster service.
As for taking the pictures, I love it. But even if photography isn't your thing, digital cameras have come a long way, and they do most of the work. Use these tips for photographing children and these step-by-step instructions on how to take your family's school pictures (#4 is always toughest for us!).