6 Reasons Not To Visit A Chain Portrait Studio This Year

Have you ever had family photos taken at a chain portrait studio*? Have you ever had family photos taken with an independent photographer? Do you know the difference in the final product and the experience? If you've only done one or the other, or maybe neither yet, read on for some of the main differences in the two types of photo sessions.

(*I'm not going to name any specific chain portrait studio names, but I'm referring to the ones that have multiple locations, often nationwide, will sometimes offer session deals for $50 or less, and are the ones you often see advertisements for in magazines and find in strip malls.)

1. If you book a session with a chain portrait studio, you'll have the same backdrops and lighting as everyone else- Basic black, white, or fake looking Christmas tree and fireplace scenes. Your photos will lack uniqueness and creativity.

(With me, you'll get to choose if you want an on-location or an in-studio setting with one of my unique backdrops and creative lighting.)

2. You'll likely have to wait in a waiting room full of other people.

(With me, you won't have to wait. You'll have your appointment time and we'll be ready to go when you arrive.)

3. Your "photographer" will likely have a lack of photographic knowledge. Most of the photographers at these studios have had little to no photo education or training. Their cameras and lighting are already set for them and stay on the same settings the whole time. They also don't do any editing other than a possible crop.

(I have a formal photography education, internships, lots of photography jobs behind me, and come with over 13 years in the business. While I don't do a bunch of crazy post-production/editing work on my photos, I will do a bit when necessary and am happy to remove a blemish that may have popped up the morning of your shoot but isn't normally there!)

4. You get poor quality prints and schlocky gift item options.

(I offer high quality paper, canvas, and metal prints, and pay attention to all of the details when creating them for my clients.)

5. The experience of the photo session is more of a chore.

(Our photo shoot is an experience you won't soon forget. You'll enjoy laughing and spending time together as a family during our session and won't come away from it feeling like you just finished a chore off of your "to do" list.)

6. You're supporting large companies that are there solely to make a profit. Some of these may have unsavory business practices, pay their employee next to nothing, and their company income rarely helps fuel the local economy.

(Support local. Support independent! While this is my job, my career, and clearly I have to be making a little bit of money, it goes to support my family, goes back into my business, and I often put money back into my local economy by supporting other local and independent businesses. I also genuinely care about each and every client, their experience, and their satisfaction with their final products.)


Ok, so do I practice what I preach? How do I know these statements are true? Well, here's how...

This last year since I had a new baby and new family of three, I wanted some family photos. While I take my own baby photos, and often taken photos of my husband and our daughter together, AND have even taken self portraits with myself and my daughter, taking self family portraits of the three of us is difficult, takes a lot of time, is not enjoyable for me as the photographer and subject, and requires some exhausting trial and error. So, right before Christmas last year with a newborn baby and no time to book a "real" shoot, I decided to do a little market research and go to one of the chain portrait studios. Well, the saying "you get what you pay for" is definitely true in this situation. They made us take photos I didn't want and put us in silly poses. Even though we had an appointment, we still had to wait in a room full of other people for about 45 minutes. The lighting was bad (I had to do extra work and scan in, and then edit the final photo just to be happy enough with it to post to my Facebook profile), and the prints were poor quality. I ended up just purchasing one family shot as I needed one to go out into our Christmas cards, but none of the others were good enough to buy to frame for our wall. Here's that photo below...

As you can see in this photo (above), the color is off, the lighting is bad, and our eyes are mostly in shadow. And what you can't see is that it's a crappy print on thin, yucky paper.

Then for Mothers Day, I asked my husband if we could do a real family photo session with a professional photographer of my choosing. I wanted something different, a nice experience, and I wanted some good family photos that I didn't have to worry about taking myself. I chose a local photographer who could offer me something different from what I normally shoot (we had tintypes made), and was quite happy with the results. See photos below from that session...

So, what do you think? What would you prefer for your family portraits? Follow us on Facebookbook a shoot by October 15th (email us at blondeshotcreative(at)gmail.com or on FB to book), and receive 10% off your session!