My mom was so good at making sure we had family photos every year. So, regardless of what happened within that year, we at least had one good picture.
I'm sure some years didn't turn out so great. I remember (during my awkward middle school phase) we went in for a sitting one year and I could NOT stop blinking at the flash. Then I was so self conscious that it became this mental thing. I think we got one picture with my eyes open, and even then they were red from rubbing them and my smile was forced because I was so stressed. Then come to find out I forgot to take my bright orange hair tie off my wrist. ha! Awkward as I was, I'm glad we took that family picture. I think of our extended family pictures that were used at my cousin Shelby's funeral this past year. We all have pictures of her that we can cherish forever.
Now that we have Rory, I've tried to take a leaf from my mom's book and do family pictures at least once a year. Actual family pictures too. Because when you have too many moving parts (aka a baby and a puppy), even if you have a tripod and decent photography skills you can only run back and forth and reset the camera so many times before you lose all focus and patience. You can certainly get a picture (and it's better than nothing), but for us those photos have never been more than mediocre.
It's just so stressful being the photographer and the subject. And if you're like us and have a baby that won't sit still or stop being grumpy for more than a half-second, it's nearly impossible to catch anything but tears by yourself. Honestly, it's worth a couple hundred dollars of your budget to get some family photos one time per year. And if you follow photographers on instagram or Facebook, lots of times they will have deals or mini sessions that you can take advantage of! If you can't do that, dress up and go for a sitting at JcPenney at least. (I prefer a professional photographer obviously- there's just so much more emotion and interaction that can be documented in a full session!) Anyways, I'm not trying to endorse anything specific aside from the fact that though your budget could pull you a million different directions, this is something that has been worth it to us to make a priority.
I've been to three family funerals this year, and in each case any high quality photo was a treasure that could never be replaced. I'm a big fan of memories. Taking them, keeping them, posting them. So here's ours for this year. We've been good at the taking of family pictures thus far (lol. two years, I know), but getting the cards out on time hasn't exactly been my strong suit. For this year, there are at least 50 extras that never got sent out sitting on my desk, hopefully next year will be better. (comment if you want one or they're going in the trash!)
Baby steps in this adulting thing, you know?