Surprising Way to Save Money #1: Buy a DSLR

It was 2006. My oldest daughter was about six months old and I had been enticed into a department store photo studio by a "FREE 8 x 10" coupon. I got all my baby gear together, dressed my baby in her prettiest outfit, and drove to the mall. The mall was a zoo of people - high schoolers in baggy pants and skimpy shirts, cell phone salesmen in black ties, women asking if I might like to try grapefruit-pomegranate lotion as I passed by the shops. Shopping centers are not my favorite place to be.

I arrived in the portrait studio, checked in at the counter, then decided to nurse my baby. Then, we waited. And waited. And I started to get nervous that my baby would get hungry again or fall asleep or get cranky.

Finally, we were called back to the makeshift studio - our choice of backdrops (solid colors, a rainforest, a window frame, etc.) and glaring lights overhead. The "photographer" was young - 18, perhaps 19. I questioned her a few times about photography; her knowledge was slim to none. She knew how to use the equipment and had a repertoire of poses that she used, but that was about the extent of it. I remember cringing as they set my baby down on a piece of fabric, trying not to think about when it had last been cleaned (if ever). The props were all kinda cute, I suppose - but, again, I was worried about all of the germs that lingered there.

Then came the anguishing part - the part where they show you all of the pictures and try to sell you packages at absolutely ludicrous prices. 5 pictures for $100 (a smokin' we wouldn't even get to have a digital file! It was absolutely heart-wrenching knowing that the rest of those pictures, those beautiful smiles, were all for naught.

After the whole ordeal, this is what I ended up with:


It's cute, right? Yes. But it did take an hour of my day. And it was expensive. And I can't make any high-quality copies of it.

Then, I wised up and bought a DSLR. One of the smartest purchases I've made in my entire life. Now, I can do photo shoots anytime, anywhere. I can plan around naps and nursings...and there are absolutely no wait times. I have all my own props and I get to keep EVERY SINGLE PICTURE...forever. That, my friends, is positively priceless.

I know DSLRs aren't cheap, but - in the end - you'll actually save money. And you'll have all of those precious memories for ever and ever too.

So, sayonara JCPenney, Sears, Picture People, and Target. You won't be seeing me anytime soon (or ever again). I have a DSLR. And my spur-of-the-moment, every-day pictures are better than your fancy-schmancy studio ones (and I haven't even read my camera's manual yet). I just took these pictures this afternoon, in fact...

little-sister-september-6-2009 little-sister-september-6-2009-2 big-sister-september-6-2009 big-sister-september-6-2009-2

NOTE: I took the above pictures using my Sony DSLR-A300K (starting at $499.98 on

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14 comments on “Surprising Way to Save Money #1: Buy a DSLR”

  1. I cannot beleive I just read this! this is exactly what i thought yesterday and bought myslef a Sony DSLR 230L! It is arriving tomorrow! I cannot wait to try ot out

  2. I really, really, really want a DSLR but I can't complain about the camera I do have - it is one step below a DSLR and I got it so cheap by shopping smart that I almost felt like I was stealing it :) Sugar has never had her picture "professionally" taken and I've got some great studio-quality shots that we've enlarged or made into wallets and passed out to all the family and friends.

    Now everyone is clamoring for pictures of Goose and pictures of the two of them together - guess it's time to get the tripod out again and see what we can come up with!

  3. I'm saving up for one. The camera I have is okay, but it definitely has some shortcomings...especially when it comes to indoor photos. I can't wait until I can afford a DSLR!

  4. I think this is a great idea.

    I was just talking to a photographer I know about getting some portraits done of Lily and then I went to her site, I do better with my nice point and shoot then what she had on display. Just imagine what I could do with a really good camera!

  5. Great advice. Our camera actually just stopped working. I'm using my Lotus phone to get the shots right now. They are pretty decent for a phone. My daughter has a one of those "Power Shot" cameras. It is amazing!

  6. I completely agree with you Stephanie! We do one "professional" photo shoot per year for a family photo and usually end up purchasing a couple pictures of the kids (mainly because my kids are just so darn cute), but that's it! Most of my family lives in the midwest and shipping pictures to all of them is expensive and difficult. Doing my pictures digitally, I can load them onto a disc and bring it with me. They can pick the pictures they want and we can print them to Wlagreens and have them in a couple of hours. No transporting pictures and everyone is happy. I also think I take better pictures of my kids mostly because I can capture their spirit and take the time to keep trying when I am unhappy with a shot. The photo places know they've got you and that you'll spend the money because you went to all the trouble to get there and get the pictures taken.

  7. We LOVE our DSLR too. We got a Canon Rebel XT before our first child came. It makes such a difference being able to capture facial expressions. Normal digital cameras take forever and you can miss so many special moments with a slow shutter speed. My camera can do so much more than I even know how to do with it, but it works absolutely fabulously. I can get some pretty fabulous pictures. All of the pictures on my blog are with our DSLR and I don't have photoshop, so they are all unedited. So thankful for a great camera.

    And...your girls are just beautiful!!

  8. we did the same thing. we invested in a good camera when my son was born. it has since died but has been replaced and we can't live without it.

  9. So jealous...would love to get one of those! Now I'm just mooching off my friend, Jessica, to come and take pics whenever she can. Your pictures are always so beautiful...the girls are so sweet!!

  10. It is unfortunate how much the various places charge for parents! It can be very difficult to refuse pictures of my children. To think of them being thrown away just appalls me. I like your suggestions. Thanks, Cindi

  11. Great pictures! I Love my camera. It is a Kodak Digital! It takes awesome Pictures! I love your pictures. Oh, I usually go to JCPenny's and the last time I went they actually changed things up and the wait time is better, the quality is better and I still go of some reason. It would save me $$$ in the long run to just use the camera I have! Thanks!

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