6 Reasons Why Chain Store Studios Aren't Working For You Anymore
1. They're Too Rushed
Most chain store studios schedule clients for back-to-back sessions every twenty minutes. TWENTY MINUTES!! Have you ever tried to get a (cranky/nervous/shy/tired/etc) child to cooperate with you in twenty minutes? Or worse, multiple children? Or a husband? How about when you throw bright lights and a stranger with a camera into the mix?
Twenty minutes is simply not enough time to communicate your story effectively... which is the whole reason you wanted pictures done in the first place! It's not just about documenting what you look like at a certain time period, although that is certainly part of it. It's about capturing personalities and connections, and preserving what this time in your life feels like right now.
When you look back on your photos years later, all of those memories should swell up inside... the excitement and sizzling energy you felt as you stepped out of high school and into the world. The love and bewilderment that overtook you when you found the one you want to spend the rest of your life with. The pride and wonder of a new life formed and brought forth into your arms. The exasperation and chaotic joy you experienced while raising up your family.
In that amount of time, you'll be LUCKY to get one shot of everyone sitting still, eyes open, looking in the same direction and fake-cheesing all at the same time.
2. Cookie-Cutter Setups
Chain store studios lack the ability to personalize their sessions. It's just not their business model. They're in the business of pushing through as many people as possible, as quickly as possible. They aren't going to get to know you before your shoot. They wont collaborate with you on your vision for your session. Photography is so much more than a white backdrop and a set of fake stairs to sit on. A 100 year old barn... flowers growing wild in a field... the backdrop of your hometown on the horizon... your grandma's front porch... the possibilities are endless!
3. They Trick You into Buying More than You Want
Many chain store studios refuse to discuss print prices with you until after the session. You go in blindly, hoping you'll be able to actually afford the photos they take. And while their prices aren't to blame, their price packages are. The packages will contain a collection of print sizes for only ONE single pose. This forces you to purchase packages for every pose that you want, causing you to pay more than you'd anticipated, and end up with prints in sizes you didn't want or need. I guess this is a brilliant marketing scheme on their end, but it leaves you wondering what you just got sucked into!
4. The Inevitable High Pressure Sales
Once they've tricked you into spending way more money than you want, they'll turn on the high-pressure sales. They'll have a few images already printed out on 11x14, often times in sepia, with a border, and maybe a collage or cheesy quote. You didn't want this. But suddenly your emotions come into play and you know you HAVE TO HAVE IT. They've successfully played on your emotions to further line their pockets. Or, if you don't cave, you leave feeling awkward, uncomfortable, and maybe even guilty!
5. Mediocre Images
Unfortunately, more often than not, chain store studios are not hiring professional photographers with years of experience. They hire entry-level workers, often at minimum wage, and train them to use the camera's auto-settings, which don't fit every scenario and create very bland images. The images are not post-processed to perfection. The associates simply don't have the time, training, or freedom to do that! They are tied to the systems and protocols directed to them by a far away corporate headquarters.
6. No Lasting Relationships
It is impossible to form a relationship with a chain studio. You could use them year after year, but you'd be working with a new person every time. There's no chance to grow with your photographer, to connect and become familiar with them. And that camaraderie makes such a difference in the quality of images you will create.
Having said all of this, I will acknowledge that there is a time and place for chain studios. I once had a client whose family was all going to unexpectedly be in town from all over the country at the same time. I was booked up, and so were all of the photographers I recommended. They were able to get into a chain studio last minute, and got a decent shot of everyone together. This had not happened in a very long time, and they knew it likely wouldn't again for many years. Back during my foster parent days, even I would take my foster children to get updated pictures of them for their life books. At that time, while trying to parent hard kiddos from hard places, I did not have the mental energy to photograph them professionally myself. In both of these scenarios, chain studios were the best (and only) option.
At the end of the day, my passion is to create beautiful, custom portraits that my clients fall over-the-moon in love with. To achieve that, the most important thing I can do is to put you at ease and coordinate a fun, stress-free, relaxing photoshoot. I strive to create lasting connections with my clients, so that each time we meet up, you are more comfortable in front of my camera than the time before. This translates to gorgeous, authentic, heart-touching images that will WOW your friends and family, and preserve all of the emotions from this time in your life, so that one day, when life changes and this season of life is no more, you can cling tightly to them and keep the memories alive in your heart.
If you've been thinking of getting professional portraits taken, and are interested in learning more about my custom portrait experience and what sets me apart from chain studios, shoot me an email here and let's chat!