It’s no secret that I love printed photos – read why HERE and HERE. I’m going to discuss how to budget for photography sessions, prints and frames in this blog post. YOU CAN AFFORD PROFESSIONAL PHOTOS, I promise.

It really is important to print your photos – which is a reason why I offer prints/products vs. digitals through an individual gallery for each session. I have printed through a local professional lab for the past three years – myself and my clients have been beyond happy with the final product! I get peace of mind knowing that your photos are printed through a lab I trust – also, save you an extra step of downloading, uploading and ordering photos on your own (through a good photo printing service!).

Depending on the photographer you choose and if they offer digitals or prints – make sure to figure out what will be best for YOU. Don’t look at the price and immediately write them off – look to see what is included for that price. Be sure to also look at their portfolio to help you choose best photographer for you

  • Scenario 1: you book a 30 minute session with a photographer and you only get digitals, it costs $150 – that does not factor in the price of prints, whether you order them through the photographer or print on your own.
  • Scenario 2:  you book a 30 minute session through FWP and you get 20 4×6 prints in a wooden storage box included for $140 – maybe that is a better option for you, since prints are already factored in.

Let’s look at an example – family photos once per year. Figure out how much you can put aside per month and put that in an envelope for safekeeping. Let’s say you can afford $20/month, which would be $240 after a year. If you are able to put away more than $20/month, you could consider family photos 2x per year or even individual photos throughout the year of kids, you and your significant other, etc.

Let’s pretend that you booked with FWP and got the 20 4×6 prints in a wooden storage box included for $140. You have $100 left over to purchase prints for your walls. In fact, you love a photo so much, you want to purchase a 16×20 print, which only costs $30, leaving you with $70. You can purchase 4 8x10s, 4 5x7s and additional 8 4×6 prints for yourself and family. You saved $240 over the course a year, you have had a professional photo session, 20 4×6 prints, a 16×20 print and more prints for family and friends – a priceless investment for your family.

Example of 4×6 prints in custom wooden box

Another way to save a few bucks is to purchase frames at thrift shops and yard sales. I LOVE St. Vincent De Paul in Kittanning for their wonderful selection of sizes at any time – 8x10s and smaller are $1 or less, larger frames are up to $5. Sometimes they even do sales where you get 4/$1 or BOGO. The Goodwill in Butler has a decent selection as well, I always look for stuff that is 50% off that week, typically can get 2 5×7 or smaller for $1 and 8×10 for $1.50. I take them home, wash them up and spray paint them with chalkboard spray paint ($7) – and they look good as new! I suggest going every once in a while and seeing what you can find – you won’t need them right then, but it could even help you decide what sizes you’d like to have printed. You will save so much in the long run – brand new, an 8×10 frame is over $5, 16×20 frames are over $20!

A haul of 20 frames from St. Vincent De Paul that I paid $15 for
An example of one of the frames I spray painted (this is charcoal chalkboard spray paint)

I hope that this helps anyone who wants professional family photos but doesn’t feel they can afford it. If you have any more tips or tricks, let me know!


  1. very informative. Thanks for the tips. ive been researching photographers to get my grandsons pictures taken. your blog will be helpful in my decision making process.


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