You Get What You Pay For...
You see the ad: $6.99 Portrait Special! Free 8 X 10 and no sitting fee! Great! So you make the appointment at the big box store. You buy fancy outfits for the kids, spend an hour getting them ready and loading up the car, drive 20-45 minutes away (at $4 per gallon of gas) to wait inside a crowded, stuffy, noisy studio for your 20 minute session, one pose included in the photo package . The lights in the back room are blinding and full of equipment that looks like it has been used a million times before, very un-original. It's dirty, dark and there is no natural light or fresh outside air. The kids are not impressed. By the time you get home it has been several hours. Exhausting, tiring and unnecesarry but worth it, so you think.
The best part comes when you go to pick up your photos a few weeks later. The reds are a little botched and your son's skin color is a bit gray looking. It looks like someone processed your photo minimally, along with thousands of others. Totally disappointing. They get shoved into a pile never to be seen again.
This was me last year. I too used to frequent the 'box store special' for photos of my family thinking it was a great bargain when I didn't have the courage to take my own children's photos, but my last experience was my last. Ever. A picture of my then newborn son and daughter was so bad that it is shoved in a box somewhere, never to be seen again. We didn't even send them to grandma and grandpa. It is the worst portrait I have ever gotten, their faces are blotchy and they were posed terribly. They look very unhappy. With gasoline, outfits and the photos, my $6.99 bargain portrait experience for ONE pose ended up costing about $70, not including 3 hours of my time. What a waste.
I also found out that one thing they don't like to tell you at box stores is that often these 'deals' only include one pose and if you want any other prints you will pay an arm and a leg for them. That's if you even like the quality. They process thousands of images and often don't have the time to color match or take the extra time to make sure it looks the best that it can. You are not always supporting a local family or business when you support these stores and you don't know the person taking your photos. Do they like children? Do they have any? Are they getting paid minimum wage and just can't wait to get done for the day or do they really enjoy what they are doing?
I don't just take photographs. I spend hours editing them (if needed) Making sure the colors are accurate, removing blemishes, fixing slight imperfections (if you have wanted me to) and then putting them on a password protected website so that you may view the 30-35 best images and choose what you like in the comfort of your own home, not feeling rushed to choose at the store. I order archival quality portraits online that thousands of the 'best' photographers use. The quality is outstanding. I send them directly to you either by dropping them off or mail and I am fast, often doing so in less than two weeks time. I treat every session with care, dedication and give it my best, as if it were pictures of my own family. I do this because I love Photography and capturing moments for families. I live in your town, I go to the same places you do and you see me around town. I love what I do and I am not going anywhere so I stand behind my portraits, my business and will make sure you feel great about the whole experience. While you may pay a little more up front for a session with me versus a box store, you will get what you paid for and more.
I find the best sessions are the ones where I go to someone's house or choice location. Not only does this make their experience a lot more convenient because they are not having to rush to a location with children who may or may not want to go, but people are more relaxed in their own environment and it shows in photographs, especially with children. I take the time to get to know each family, their likes, dislikes and hear their ideas on what they would like to capture in their photos, what is important to them. Many of my clients are repeats and that feels great to know that I am liked enough by their family to take more pictures for them. That speaks volumes about my ability, who I am and what I stand for.
Another thing that you will find with a custom photographer like myself, is that I thank you for your business and your referrals. I may give you a few images extra on your CD or may print an extra print for you or give you a discount on your next session. Even a free 'sneak peek' of a few images on my business Facebook page. I am reachable by a local phone number, you don't have to call a 1-800 number or give me an 'order number' to check the status, I'll remember you right away!
Ultimately the choice is up to you in who you want to take your portraits, but knowing this, think about 20 years from now when your children or grandchildren have left your home or if you have moved away. What will you remember about your life right now? What will your family remember? Would you rather have your photos to remember being in your yard, a local park, a favorite home or forest or would you rather recall sitting in line for a $6.99 portrait?
- Sarah Walls, Cedarbrook Studio - Barnet, Vermont 05821
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