True statment: We have never paid for professional pictures to be taken of our family. The last time we paid someone to take pictures was our wedding day (and technically my parents paid!). I don't really see the need to pay someone when it takes an army just to get ONE shot of the kids actually looking in the right direction with smiles on their faces (that's just my opinion, others may see the benefit of multiple candid shots of their children looking in various directions...they can be cute if done right!)
My dad is a very good photographer. He doesn't have any formal training, just years of practice. Each year, we have him take our family pictures. This year we opted for a nearby park with a stream running through. We got home from church, changed our clothes and off we went. We only had about 30 minutes of sunlight remaining, so we went FAST! We did our family, the kids, my brother and his wife, my parents and then all of us together.
Pretty good if you ask me! They turned out good enough for the Christmas card too!! (which I finally put in the mail today...HORRAY!)