Family Photo Swap

Frugal Family photo swap

2011’s Family Photo Swap (one of many)

We just came from our now-annual Family Photo Swap. Some friends take our family photos, then we take theirs. We switch back and forth every time we move to a new location.

Photographers are expensive (and worth it most of the time), but in these years of temper tantrums, high energy, and J’s extreme fear of new people, having friends who we can swap family photos with has been a huge help.

Last year around August, my friend Jenee approached me about heading to a park with our families one morning and taking family photos. She and her husband, GI, have a nice camera and both know their way around it (she’s even taken classes). Jason took photography classes in Germany and traveled through Europe practicing with his photography classmates. So each family has at least one person who is a good photographer.

Family photographs, and those of our kids, make awesome Christmas gifts. We who have four sets of grandparents like to keep those kid-sitting grandparents happy, and smiling photos make them happy. Also, in year’s past, we make our Christmas card with photos and create a calendar for grandparents, aunts, and uncles.

I was thrilled when Jenee suggested a photo swap again this year!

Frugal Family Photo Swap

Last year we took them on Sunday, September 11; this year, it was Saturday, September 15. Apparently we stick to the same time each year. It’s so nice to have them taken early because, as Jenee mentioned today, when the deals on photo cards (and prints and calendars!) crop up before the holidays, we’re ready and able to take advantage of them.

Here’s how it works for us:

  • Choose an outdoor place with an indoor back-up, day and time.
  • Get everybody dressed, relatively clean, and make sure the kids are well-fed.
  • Take lots of non-messy snacks, water, and toys. Stuffed animals, cars, balls–all good.
  • Even though our kids prefer not to use a stroller for short distances, we took one anyway. We liked having a stroller with us to move the bags of toys, snacks, purses, etc.
  • Move around a lot; kids get bored easily. We took photos in four different locations in and around a place called Schenley Commons. It has a large fountain, lots of flowers, Dippy the Dinosaur, a carousel that was sadly closed today, and across the street is the University of Pittsburgh’s main campus area. We spied some beautiful red doors near the Cathedral of Learning and took the last of the photos there, hoping they would look great for holiday cards.
  • Don’t be afraid to use the other family’s snacks and toys as bribery. I was pretty grateful for for Jenee’s Curious George gummi snacks today.
  • Press that camera button as fast as possible!
  • Know when to say when. At about an hour and a half, everybody had had enough.


Have you ever tried a photo swap with someone else or another family?


2 responses to this post.

  1. You know, our mutual friends also hit up Sears for their daughter’s pictures, and they turned out just beautiful. With the personalities that we deal with, I can’t really imagine how it would work for us, but I aspire to Sears one day! Can’t wait to see those photos!

  2. No – well, we’re pretty terrible photographers, though one of us (not me) has ambitions of adequacy. We actually just got ours done at the local Sears last weekend and, you know, I was pretty darn impressed at how well they came out! I don’t know if all Searses are as good as the one in Monroeville but our photographer clearly knew her job. It wasn’t _too_ expensive, either and we walked away with a print order and a cd of around 30 pics. I’m amused that this apparently is family photo time for everybody!

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