5 Ways to Budget & Splurge on Family Photography and Why You Need To

Let’s dive into some real talk here… No filters! Photos are not considered a necessity for many. (As evident with 2020, photography is not an essential service either.) We all know photography is a luxury and although it might not necessarily be able to feed us or clothe us, I would argue that it gives us something else just as valuable. Especially when we have our first baby, all we want to do is freeze time.

Photography is an investment and while you may not have the budget to have professional photos done each year, I do encourage you to definitely plan around the milestones in life so you can capture those moments in a way that works best for your budget.

Mom holding son while smiling at cherry blossoms in Westchester NY

How To Budget and When To Splurge:

Mini Sessions

Mini sessions are a great way to get annual photos done. They are typically a shorter session, anywhere from 20-30 minutes long, and offered at a lower price point than a photographer’s full session rate.

If there is a photographer that you like, inquire if they offer mini sessions sooner rather than later since they tend to fill up rather quickly, and usually they have limited spots. Some photographers may only offer 4-6 mini sessions! Others may offer 1-2 days with various times. Staying in the loop with their promotions and announcements will help you ensure you snag a spot!

Sign up for their newsletter or email list to know when mini session dates are available or ask if you can pre-pay in advance to secure a spot. If you’re interested in a mini session with Amy Nghe Photography, you can sign up for my newsletter found at the bottom of the home page.

Another tip if you want to make sure there’s no way you miss their announcements (and they aren’t hosting them in the near future): If you follow them on social media (like Instagram), add them to your “close friends” list, and/or enable notifications for their posts (posts, stories, reels, videos, and/or going live. You can actually pick and choose which ones, so you can ask the photographer “Where do you normally announce your mini sessions?” And then enable that function). 

Model Calls

What is a model call?

If you’re not familiar with a model call, it is essentially when a photographer has a creative idea in mind they will seek out a “model” for their vision.

Why do photographers do model calls?

  • use a new outfit they got for their client wardrobe
  • promote a new service they are offering
  • practice a new skill or gain experience in a niche or new project
  • shoot at a specific location they’ve been wanting to try

Some model calls are deeply reduced in price from the photographer’s normal fees, or some are completely free and compensated in images, whether all or a set number of images.

Model Calls are great for those on a budget since it is either free of charge, or very affordable. The drawbacks are that you may have very little say in the date and location of the shoot and potentially even what you would be wearing.

It is not unusual to have all details of the photoshoot and the resulting images left to the discretion of the photographer. Model calls are also something that is not widely promoted. Although model calls are usually not widely promoted, some photographers have a running call for models on their website. You can apply there with your information and if a project comes along where you would be a good fit, they will reach out to you.

However, most photographers offer model calls on their social media accounts or newsletters. It doesn’t hurt to ask a photographer if they plan to offer any model calls for photoshoots in order to get on their call-list. 

Payment Plans

Many businesses are now offering payment plans. It’s a great way to invest in your family’s milestones and annual photos over time. If you know well in advance who you want to book as your family photographer, let them know ASAP. Even if it’s a year out. If their booking calendar isn’t open, you can inquire about payment plans and flexible payments. It would help you lock in their rates for the current year too! Hint Hint!

Brother and sister running through a bridge in Westchester County NY

Create The Budget

Just like people create vacation funds, creating a budget for photos is a must to help guarantee you get your memories documented. Your needs can fluctuate each year so one year you might do a mini session and whatever leftover funds you have, you can put towards the following year to do a full session. 

Planning for Milestones

Photos are an investment. I would definitely recommend splurging for photography during life’s milestones such as newborn photos, and even birthdays and anniversaries. With the newborn phase so short, there are so few things we get to “keep” from this stage. Photos will last forever. 

And it might seem strange or silly to recommend splurging on birthday photos but I would argue that for the 1st birthday, it is great to have a photographer present so that you can actually enjoy the party and occasion without having to worry about documenting it at the same time. 

The plus side is that you will also get to be in all the photos. More often than not, moms are not in the photos. And without harping on this too long, please make it a priority to be IN your photos with your kids. They won’t remember many of these moments, and pictures allow you to save that memory for them. You are in charge of helping them create a new “core memory” if you will!

Not to mention, photographers catch angles, lighting, and candid moments you may have never seen (because you’re in them). 

Maternity Photo Session in Westchester County NY

What should you do next?

– Read back over the list above and see which options stand out to you as the most likely, or the ones that seem to fit into your lifestyle, budget, and goals. Dive into those first.
– If you hit a dead end, come back and try another method. 

Although professional photos are not a necessity, you deserve to have them.

  • Check out my blog that expands on why family photos should be a priority. 
  • Or If you found this helpful, click “love.” 
  • Follow me on Instagram for more hacks and inspiration, or to follow my adventures with families just like yours! 
  • Join my email list to stay in the loop about my upcoming sessions.