By Contributor Allison Baltzersen

So you want a family picture. Here are the options: 1) ask a stranger at the park to take a hasty picture of your family using your phone and hope the Instagram filter jazzes it up enough to sort of look pro, or 2) pay through the nose for a professional photographer.

The last time we got family portraits done, we spent an unspeakable amount of money on the session time with the photographer and then had to pay EXTRA to get the pictures. In the end, I was frustrated and broke just to get a few cute pictures for my Facebook page.

I have to ask, do family photographers really have to charge so much?

The new Vancouver, BC–based company, 51 Moments answers my question with a loud NO! Photographers shouldn’t cost more than lawyers. The pictures shouldn’t cost extra. Digitals of your pictures shouldn’t be a bargaining chip for expensive package upsells. And it shouldn’t take weeks for the client to receive the finished products. 51 Moments has developed a super smart system for booking and receiving great looking family portraits at super affordable prices.


Here’s how 51 Moments works: Visit the week you want your pictures taken. Choose how much you want to spend on the 1-hour session (prices range from $25 for an amateur photographer up to $150 for a pro). Then choose three upcoming dates and times that you are available for the photo shoot and where you want the pictures taken around Vancouver, BC. Finally, click “Book Family Shoot.” Within a few hours, you receive a confirmation email from 51 Moments letting you know a photographer is being assigned to your shoot. The photographer then emails you directly to shake out the specific details (what style of shoot you want, where exactly you will meet, etc) and that’s it! Go to your scheduled shoot time a few minutes early, spend the hour getting snapped and after the session is through, the photographer goes home and uploads the best pics to the 51 Moments site where they get touched up and pushed on to you within the week. All of the digital pics are sent to you via DropBox, no pushy upsell of wallet-sized pics involved! In addition to family photo shoots, you can also schedule engagement, maternity, couples, boudoir, portrait, headshot and newborn pics with 51 Moments, all using the same easy and affordable system.

We chose the semi-pro family photo package for $85 and met our photographer Julie Doro in Stanley Park on a surprisingly sunny afternoon last month. As it turned out, our youngest daughter decided to cut a tooth that afternoon so was grumptastic, throwing our 3 year old into a funk as well. But none of this stopped Julie from snapping some really fantastic pics of our family. She was awesome! She was gentle with our girls which got them to smile, she knew just how to capture some really unique shots while we played on the playground, and she had a really killer camera that played with the depth of field in ways camera phones can’t.


By the end of the day, Julie sent us a few of the best shots to see right away, which was a nice surprise. Four days later, we received the rest of the touched up pictures from 51 Moments via DropBox. I downloaded the JPGs and that was it. No upselling. No usage contracts. No unwanted wallet-sized pics. The digitals are mine to post on my Facebook page or print for my grandma however I want.

Family photo shoots used to be so outrageously expensive they were reserved for only the most sacred of milestones (wedding, birth of first child, etc). And the bummer is that between those milestones, the beauty of the family’s growth together gets left to blurry selfies or missing parents. Whoever is holding the camera gets left out of the picture. And in our household, that person is usually me. I look back at the last few years of our family pictures and I’m rarely in them. And if I am, it’s a selfie clipping off one of my ears. I want a pretty picture of me. With both ears and my family. Not snapped on my phone. And now with 51 Moments, I can easily afford to book several photo sessions a year to keep myself in the pictures. YAY! I so, so recommend this service if you live in the Vancouver, BC area. And I truly hope 51 Moments expands into other cities so other budget-conscious moms can get back into their family photos and feel as pretty as I did in these family pictures.

Exclusive discount code: One Smiley Monkey readers will also receive a special 15% discount to try out this service. Once you’ve chosen the type of photos you want, your budget, and input scheduling info, you can enter PHOTOS15 into the “coupon code” field on the right side of the booking page (just above the Book a Shoot button). It will then apply the discount when you make a booking.

Disclosure: I received a gift certificate for services to facilitate this post. All views and opinions are my own.

Allison Baltzersen is a mother of two baby girls and blogs about her bumblings through green parenting over at Funny Shade of Green