So, this Christmas we decided to do a family portrait. Just when I was looking for a photographer I found a deal through LivingSocial for the Sears Portrait Studio. It was $35 for a $159 package. Convenient AND cheap... what more could I want?
The portrait session went well. I made the appointment. We showed up, had our pictures taken and then got to look at the digital photos on screen and choose the ones we wanted.
Now, this $159 package included the session, 4 8x10s and 2 10x10s. That's it. And when I say that's it, I mean it. The picture CD was an extra $100 which I opted out of. Extra print sheets were $20 a piece (that would be an 8x10 or smaller sizes ganged up onto an 8x10 photo paper).
Unexpectedly, they told me that the photos would take a week to come in. I hadn't expected this. With digital photos it's easy to print from just about anywhere. So, I had planned on walking out of there with my pictures. No such luck. They gave me a date and time for pick up in about a week- cutting it close for Christmas.
I arrived at Sears at the appointed time to pick up the photos. I was told that they had changed their computer system and that the photos actually wouldn't be ready for another week. Firstly, any IT guy that decides to change over a computer system in the middle of the holiday rush should be fired on the spot. There is no reason why it couldn't wait until after the holidays and was, I'm sure, only an excuse and not really the truth. The photos would not be ready in time for gifting and I was told I had no recourse.
I came back after Christmas to get my photos, all six of them.
Had I paid the full $159 I would have been royally pissed. Seeing that I only paid $35 and that I am able to retouch photos myself, I was less pissed. I basically paid the girl to snap a couple of photos. But there was no correction to the photos at all. In the future I'll just pay my wedding photographer at $200 an hour for a portrait session. That price comes with the CD and the retouching.
Okay, so what was so wrong with the photos?
1. The backdrop was wrinkled and had red fuzzies or stains on it.
It's true. Now, I didn't save a copy of what the photos looked like with the original backdrop. I wasn't planning on writing a blog post about my experience, but some friends talked me into it. But had I not had the ability to retouch that out I would have been very upset about an extremely wrinkled backdrop behind me. It looked like an unlaundered bedsheet. And I'm not talking about the draping, I'm talking about that sheet having been rolled into a ball and stomped on by a herd of angry toddlers wrinkled. I can hang up a wrinkled and stained bedsheet at home. Why do I need to pay Sears to do that?
2. The lighting was all wrong.
Now, I wasn't expecting award-winning work from the photographers at Sears. Let's be honest, here. I fully walked into it not expecting to see Ansel Adams standing there. But if you're going to snap a portrait, you have to have decent lighting. In some photos the exposure was too dark and there was no light on the face, but instead almost back-lit. In others, the lighting was so strong the colors are blown out.
Allow me to present three examples, keeping in mind that the "originals" already have the backdrop retouched to remove the majority of the wrinkles and the red stuff. The top photos are the "original" and the lower photos are the retouched ones. Remember that these are 8x10- they look different small in the blog post, so click on them to see large.
Example #3- That Wrinkled Mess- look closely
I would not go back and I would not recommend Sears Portrait Studio to anyone that I liked. Maybe even people I don't like.
Fortunately, I didn't lose too much on this package and I can fix it myself, but others are not so lucky.