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Lifestyle :: Art/Leisure :: Picture This :: Holiday Portraits

Holiday Portraits

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As we enter the holiday season ( yea yea it's 3 months away but closer than you think. ) Photo labs and photographers around the cpictureountry are preparing for a busy holiday season.

Professional photos make one of the best holiday gifts bar none. When you look at the total cost for multiple photos for family and friends, you can't beat the value of a great professional portrait or a custom enlargement. I mean really think about it. You are giving someone a gift that they may store in their attic in 10 or 15 years but it will likely outlive you. So what constitutes a good family portrait session. Well there are several things to look for, don’t just go with the price look for quality, remember this is going to be a gift.

A good family portrait will consist of the group photo with everyone.  There should also be several smaller groupings with parents alone, children with and without parents etc. to give you as many choices and family combinations as possible. If it is just you, well ask about clothing and set changes. Maybe you will bring your board and do a shot a the beach. Anything that will make your shot memorable and unique.

When planning your family portrait, you will want to come prepared. Everyone should be wearing a similar  style of clothing with a common thread running through it. In other words don't let your familypicture members show up in a red shirt, when everyone else has chosen to wear white. Along the same lines, your teenage son shouldn't have their " black" motif going with eyeliner & black jeans connected to their nose ring with a chain.  Especially when every one is in beachwear with bare feet @ sunset. Try to arrange a family unit as much as possible.

Other considerations include, touchup makeup ( guys and girls) a comb & brush, something to tie back long hair in case of wind. Bring a favorite toys for small kids to help provide some "familiarity" in a different surrounding and expect to take a little time doing this. If  your session is going well you can easily run over an hour, especially if your family is large. Plan for this additional time, don’t make say dinner plans right after your session where you will have to cut it short to meet a reservation. If you are rushed it will look like it was rushed.

Ok with "some" of the guides to a great portrait sesson in place, you will want to choose you photographer. This should be done based on their work not their price. With the cost of a sitting ranging from $free to $200 or more, keep in mind that you will get what you pay for. If you like your photographers work it is woth the price. Again this is a gift value image, you don’t want to go to the x-mart portrait studio and get the cheesy holiday background for your family’s holiday gift.

So what can you expect to spend? A good family sitting fee will be somewhere around $50  to $100, a pricey one will be double that. Typpictureically these sessions are just the sitting fee or payment for the photographers or studio time and don’t include prints or even proofs. These are sold separately. The cost of prints can vary from studio to studio and most of that cost is based on the photographers wholesale price from their printing company. A true Professional  photographer will use a Pro Lab to process and print their images. The standards of such a lab are higher than your local x-mart’s one hour service and are charged at a higher price as a result. If your photographer is charging you a high price for their images and you turn them over to see the name of a big box retailer that you yourself have used to print pictures with, you might want to think twice about going back. Most pro labs use a higher quality print paper and tighter image correction standards than the big box guys. The big box guys are just there to get you in the store to buy other things while you wait for an hour for your pictures to be processed. If your pro goes there.. think twice about the quality of the gift you are giving.

So what is a good price? Expect to pay upwards of $30-60 for an 8x10 print from your pro, these make great holiday gifts and are properly priced. If this is out of your budget, you might try holiday cards printed on photo paper. You can generally get these from your photographer in a custom designed layout for around $1 ea including the envelopes.
Thinking of a nice canvas print? Why not, they look great and everyone would put it on their wall. Expect to pay between $25.00 and $50.00 per sq ft for one of these.  At $50.00/sq ft an 8x10 would cost you about $40.00. Just slightly more than a traditional print but it will have a higher gift value because it already comes on a frame.

The last thing to consider here is time. The holiday season is the busiest time of the year for photographers. Schedule your session early and give yourself plenty of time for mailing those holiday gifts out to family and friends. You might even run into an early bird special or two if you do. Get started early with one of the best values of any holiday season, giving a portrait of yourself to the people that mean the most to you.  - Aloha

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sgieseler — Monday, December 14, 2009
Great column, I appreciate the guidelines Jerry has described here. I am consiering having new professional photos taken, since mine are getting old (like me). I wonder about digital photos since they are so useful for emailing when ordering personalized products.

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