HI! Call me Jessica. That was my ‘under-cover’ name today when I called every chain portrait studio I could think of.

Wal-mart
Olan Mills
Sears
Jc Penney
Kiddie Kandids
Picture People

Now why did I call all of these studios you may wonder. Well I wanted to find out a few bits of information from them, and seeing as I couldn’t find out everything to my hearts content via the internet I resorted to calling them. Wal-mart was the ONLY place I could not get a hold of.

The information I was looking for was:
Length of session
Amount of pictures taken
Sitting fees
Cost of a Disc WITH copyright release

The information I gave them was that I had 3 children I wanted photographed

ALL of these studios offer UP TO 15 minutes per session. That’s right ONLY 15 minutes.

*Olan Mills*
-No sitting fee however, they do charge a $5.95 shipping fee for prints/discs
-They give up to 15 images/pictures/poses (whatever you want to call it)
-Disc of images is $150

*Sears*
- up to 9 poses
- $119.00 for a CD

*JC Penney*
- 9.99 per person sitting fee
- up to 30 pictures
- $100.00 CD

*Kiddie Kandids (babies-r-us)*
-No Sitting
- up to 9 poses
- $199 for a CD

*Picture People*
- No Sitting
-up to 40 pictures total
- $250 for a CD, however, they will only give you 12 full size images on the disc. After 12 images, they start resizing the images and if you try to print from them they will be grainier. (NICE)

So what is my Beef with ‘chain portrait studios’?

1- They hire people regardless of knowledge of cameras/taking pictures & they instruct their employees to shoot in ‘program/auto’ which is the same thing as using a point and shoot aka (anyone can take the pics)

2- They only give you 15 minutes! (anyone with a shy child knows it can take a lot longer than that for the kid to warm up to a stranger)

3- They don’t care about the end result. You get between 6-40 clicks of the camera and regardless of the pics that’s what you get. They don’t meticulously go through the pics and find the best ones and edit them to make your pictures a work of art & perhaps remove that unwanted scratch or pimple ;)

4- Overall poor quality.

So what do I recommend for people who want REAL professional pictures? Simple, Hire a professional. I understand that in these times of economic crisis that it isn’t easy to hire a ‘professional’ photographer, as usually they charge quite a bit more than any of these ‘chain’ stores.

So here is food for thought; most people only get professional photographs once a year or less, but they look at those pictures for the rest of their lives & their children & grandchildren look back and look at them as well.  Really what else holds its emotional value more than a photograph? What can take you back to a certain time in your life like seeing the clothes you were wearing and the style of your hair and everything else that goes into that picture?  If you save $25-30 a month for a year then you can get pictures that will be wonderful to pass down from generation to generation. Really it is only the cost of eating out once a month and is not that much in the long run.

~Jenilee

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20 Responses to “Chain Portrait Studio vs Professional Photographer ~ Redlands, California ~ Family Photographer”

  1. sarah says:

    Great deal! Jennilee does awesome work.I've seen some 'chain' places that get behind the backdrop in the image. So you see the white backdrop and then the wall behind it. And they include that as one of your # images. Not good!

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