It’s not easy to get a good picture of my 2-year-old twins. They wiggle and jump around, and I often have to take a hundred pictures just to get one that’s halfway decent. That’s why I love hiring a professional photographer when I can. That said, the cost of family portraits can be very high when you hire a professional.

There have been times in my life where I’ve just had a friend or family member take pictures, and they turned out fine. However, I believe that every now and then it’s worth it to splurge on professional shots. Some families get professional photographs done for every holiday and stage in life. I tend to hire a photographer every couple of years.

How Much Should You Spend on Family Photos?

There is no specific price that a family needs to spend to get great family portraits. A more expensive photographer doesn’t always guarantee high-quality photos. But you also have to remember that it costs a lot to run a photography business.

Photography — good photography — isn’t something just anyone can do.

In fact, Monica Allen — who has her own business — explains that, “I have six years of experience and over $20,000 invested in equipment, props, editing programs, and… numerous photography workshops.” Photographers are very passionate about their art form, but they still have to make a living, just like everyone else.

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The Cost of Family Portraits: A Breakdown

Family-portrait photography pricing can vary. When my husband and I were first married, we paid a photographer friend of ours $150 to take photos of us for our Christmas cards, and she did a beautiful job. Then, when we had our twins, a full newborn session cost us $600. Again, the photographer did a phenomenal job. Just recently, we paid Allen (mentioned above) $250 for a mini holiday session, and she went above and beyond. She even stayed longer than the allotted 30 minutes!

Besides, some of my most prized possessions are my birth video and photographs.

Some people couldn’t fathom having a photographer present when giving birth, but having someone capture those moments is something I’ll never regret.

That’s just me, though. I happen to love capturing memories on camera, and I find it worth the price. However, if you’re unsure, there are many ways to afford quality photography.

Where Can I Get Cheap Family Portraits?

“The most we've spent on family photos has been several hundred dollars,” says John Schmoll of the online community Frugal Rules. “We're fortunate in that we have two good friends who are professional photographers, and we're usually able to swap services with them.

They provide us with the pictures, and we'll do some type of copywriting or advertising project for them, so it evens out for both of us. The only time we really spend is if we want something special or a larger photo that isn't a typical offering for them.”

“For our family, when it comes to family photos and how much we're willing to spend, we usually spend very little and sometimes we spend nothing at all,” says Jessi Fearon, founder of the Budget Mama blog.

“We use a tripod that we found on Amazon during a Black Friday sale to take family photos without having to hire a photographer, and we save up our referral credits to our favorite card printing place all year long in order to score our family photo Christmas cards for free — or very close to it.”

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Brynne Conroy of the blog Femme Frugality says that, “We have had wild success with JCPenney studios. Their coupons have given us rock-bottom prices on portraits as our little ones grew. For each milestone birthday, we never had to pay more than $50 for robust photo packages with multiple poses. Fifty dollars was on the high end, too.”

The Bottom Line

When it comes to the cost of family portraits, you should only spend what you can afford. But by going on the recommendations of friends and family and waiting for holiday deals, you can usually get beautiful pictures from professional photographers at affordable prices.