In general, I think that a lot of people don't understand why people are drawn to custom photography. It's an experience...a total package. Your final prints are something to be truly treasured, and that reflect your family; the personalities, the quirks, those special moments, and those unique things that only you see (like that soft side to your "tough guy").
But why does it have to be so expensive? There is certainly an answer! It is summed up perfectly by a talented "colleague" (I put that term in quotes because I have not met her, nor is she local, but I know her work from forums and photography related groups that I frequent. Her name is Marianne Drenth of Marmalade Photoraphy She wrote a compelling bit to educate her clients (and the rest of the internet!) on why custom photography is just that. You can read it by clicking here.
If you have time, take a gander at her site too! She's got some really fantastic eye candy!