(Psst: The FTC wants me to remind you that this website contains affiliate links. That means if you make a purchase from a link you click on, I might receive a small commission. This does not increase the price you’ll pay for that item nor does it decrease the awesomeness of the item. ~ Daisy)
By the author of What School Should Have Taught You
It’s depressing when you talk to a family that, for whatever reason, just didn’t take a lot of pictures during a particular period of their life. Sure, the camera was always at the ready after the birth of the first child, but after that, things just seemed to get busy, and for years afterwards, no pictures were taken.
Now, looking back at things 20-30 years later, the people I talk to who are in that position really wish that they had taken the time, effort, and money to better record their family’s life.
It’s fun to look back and to remember – to see where things once stood.
However, if finances are tight right now for you (dang inflation), the odds that you’ll actually be able to go out and get any pictures printed are slim to none. So what can we do about that? Let’s take a look.
A rant against only digital storage for family photographs
While I fully understand that most people just update their pictures to the cloud, put them on an external hard drive, or just keep them on their devices, I think that the best method for long-term storage is an actual hard copy.
No, a photo album isn’t as portable as a digital photo album, but it also can’t be ruined by a magnet. You can’t really hang a digital copy of your photos on your wall, either. I’m a fan of a printed photograph, and you may be too.
While I think that both options are important to protecting your family photographs, I want to focus specifically on frugal-friendly means of getting your family pictures printed.
It’s impossible to talk about cheap photography without mentioning Shutterfly. Every few months or so, Shutterfly tends to offer massive discounts on a wide array of photo products. The promotions that they run after you actually purchase an item are ludicrously low as well.
If you purchase a collection of 4×6 photos one month, you could easily end up with a free photo book or something like 50% off your purchase the next time you shop there. Seriously, the deals they run are almost unbeatable.
You can get standard prints here starting at nine cents a piece. They’ve been around forever, and like Shutterfly, they offer a wide array of fantastic deals on photos and photo-embedded items (e.g., coffee cups, calendars, etc.)
Right now, for Christmas 2022, they have a 50% off sale going on as well, provided you use the promo code they have listed on their site at the link included above. If you’re looking to put some pictures together for an album real quick so that guests can browse through the coffee table when they come over this Christmas, this is a great way to do so.
There are things I don’t like about this option (I always wonder about potential privacy issues of sticking a USB into something the general public has access to), but Walmart does have fantastic prices on images, and you can pick up your prints within a matter of hours.
If you don’t want to pay for shipping and you want your pictures now, this is a good way to go. Walmart is kind of like air – it’s everywhere – so you shouldn’t have a hard time finding one nearby, either.
Shake it like a Polaroid piktyoor!
If you’re only occasionally taking pictures, I think this is an option.
A family member of mine uses a Polaroid camera for much of his photography. This is most certainly old school, but I think there are a lot of frugal benefits here if you are selective about the type of Polaroid cameras you’re using.
The price of Polaroid film is typically right around a dollar or two an image. Compared to what you would pay for a photo at Walmart or from an online store, that’s a lot. You’d be better served with a Fujifilm Instax Mini knockoff Polaroid camera if this is what you’re wanting. Their film is normally 50 cents per shot, and these little cameras are a lot of fun to keep on one’s person when friends and family are over.
You end up with instantaneous pictures that you can share with grandma, and you never have to wait or pay for shipping. You snap the shot, and within 30 seconds, the photo is there between your fingertips.
Bartering with family friends
Odds are that you have a close friend who is a professional photographer or who at least does something like wedding photography on the side. If your family is pretty artsy, these people are probably all around you.
One of the benefits of living in the age of social media is that everyone has become a great photographer. It didn’t take long for people to figure out the rule of thirds and to learn how to imitate the great photography that they were watching other people do.
As a result, you probably know quite a few people who do this at some level to make money. If that is the case, perhaps you can work out a deal with them sans edits. It’s the editing that tends to take a lot of the photographer’s time. If you can frame the deal by saying you want no-edit pictures – just snap and print – they may be willing to get you some very good pictures at a very good price.
“No more pictures, please.”
What are your thoughts on the subject? Are there other ways to get family photos on the cheap that you know about that we didn’t discuss above? Do you like the idea of the Fujifilm Instax Mini? Let us know what you’re thinking in the comment section below.
Aden Tate is a regular contributor to TheOrganicPrepper.com and TheFrugalite.com. Aden runs a micro-farm where he raises dairy goats, a pig, honeybees, meat chickens, laying chickens, tomatoes, mushrooms, and greens. Aden has four published books, What School Should Have Taught You, The Faithful Prepper, An Arm and a Leg, The Prepper’s Guide to Post-Disaster Communications, and Zombie Choices. You can find his podcast The Last American on Preppers’ Broadcasting Network.