The Big Box Portrait Studio – What’s The Deal?

March 31st, 2011

This image is not from Heather Photographer

I just saw an ad during Good Morning America for a national portrait studio. You get “over 40 portraits, 6 greeting cards and a photo CD for only $9.95!” Sounds like an incredible deal, doesn’t it?

Here’s the real deal:

  • Instead of “40 portraits,” they should say “1 portrait, 43 prints of 1 pose (sizes and amounts of their choosing – who needs 32 wallets?)”
  • 6 greeting cards – to add perceived value
  • Instead of “photo CD,” they should say “1 digital image on disc”

Now, here is the small print:

No subject fees or additional charges. Only one $9.95 Portrait Package Special of your favorite pose per family or group. Offer not valid for business purposes, individual adult subjects or unaccompanied minors. Offer subject to change at any time.

What does that small print mean?

They start with something nice. They won’t charge you whether you have 2 people or 10. ok.

The next line limits your group to only 1 pose at the special $9.95. But what if you want 2 poses – or to be crazy, what if you want 6 poses? You may want 1 of the kids, 1 of each individual kid, 1 of the nuclear family, 1 of the extended family, 1 of mom & dad…etc. That’s at least 6 poses you are trying to get made. There are no advertised prices for the 5 extra poses.

They say on their site “Most sessions take about one to one and a half hours.” That’s a lot of time to take 1 pose, select from the 5 snapped and to have your prints printed off and photo CD burned. They are allotting time to take additional poses and to administer the dreaded sales tactics.

They don’t make money on the $9.95. They are counting on you buying additional poses, prints, and images to add to the photo CD. Of course all of this is, in most cases, expected. So let’s say you can budget for a $50 final bill. That’s reasonable. Much less than boutique photographers and still very professional looking. They couldn’t possibly charge me more than 5 times the original amount, could they?

The Results:

If you want additional poses, you are required to buy prints. The digital image of the pose will be put on your disc complimentary. Each additional pose will be a minimum of $15. They have packages where you get 3 sheets for $16.95. So, if you were to get 6 poses in all, the minimum cost of your session would be: $85. this would include:

  • 6 poses
  • approximately 12 sheets of prints
  • 6 digital images on a photo CD

If you only want 1 pose, it’s a GREAT deal. Any more than that, I’d consider a boutique photographer.

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