I don't think I want to mess around with Craigslist for this one. (Might luck out, might not, hard to tell the difference ahead of time.) Simplicity is good.
For example, this looks like it'd be just fine:
Sounds like it would be between $25 and $45 total, depending on what size photos are included in the portrait package (they don't say). One pose is fine.
I don't know if Sears is to be avoided, though.
This is where I have typically gone for family portraits and have been successful. The problem is that a million people go there around this time of year and it would be highly likely you could not get an appointment or perhaps not get your pictures until after Christmas.
Yep, that makes sense.
I ended up making an appt. with Portrait Innovations... they didn't have one available until the 18th, but that should be fine. They say the prints will be available in about 15 minutes, so should be able to have the photo in the mail by that evening or the next day at the latest.
I heard back from the local studio... yowza! Looks like it would have cost about $110 to come home with a single 5 X 7. And the prices were up into 4 digits when it came to big packages/ big prints (40 X 30, etc.) I trust that they take way better pictures than Sears et al, but that's still significantly out of our price range for now.
As a professional photographer I will tell you that the difference in quality level of portraiture is night and day between Sears, Olan Mills or cheapo photo chains and a lab/prof portrait photographer. As you would expect, you get what you pay for.
If you're looking for quick pix for Xmas/holiday cards, the cheapo places like Sears and Olan Mills chains is OK for that task. The posing is so-so, you get very few choices in your final selection of poses and the printing might be a little less than perfect.
If you're on a tight budget and not looking for anything too memorable, go for it. A professional photographer or photo lab, for the most part, earns their money, particularly if there are toddlers, young children or teens in the photo, where they often have interesting backdrops, or toys/distractions that catch the children in the act of being themselves.
The portrait is OK.
The biggest problem is that you aren't given proofs -- all of the selection is done on a big computer screen. This is great for things like showing different backgrounds and different special effects. But the images appeared sharper on the computer screen than in the actual prints, once we received them. Even the 5 X 7 -- the actual gift print, the reason we went through all of this -- is a bit blurry. I don't know if other poses would have been better -- we had some 42 photos to select from, and then narrowed it down to our favorite from there. On the computer screen, though, I wasn't concerned about sharpness, for any of them -- they all looked fine.
The process itself was good. We observed other photos being taken and they seem really good with babies and little kids -- lots of genuine smiles.
Sozlet is a terror when it comes to posed portraits. She has this fixed smile which is horrible. We kept trying to get her to loosen up and relax but she just kept getting more and more self-conscious. When I take pictures of her I have a whole bunch of ways to get her to quit with that stuff -- I have her tell stories, or I go ahead and waste a couple of frames on the fake smile and then catch her normal smile once the flash goes off. That's what's so irritating about it -- she's a beautiful girl with a beautiful smile, but she chooses to put on this horrible fake face for portraits -- oy!
Hopefully she'll get over this phase.
Anyway, we have something, not great but worth $9.99. When/if we are a little more flush we'll go to the local, non-chain studio (which seemed really cool) and get a proper family portrait.
They did try to get her to calm down, too... one guy came over and kept telling jokes, which she obviously thought were funny, but the mirth couldn't quite break through the mask.
I think stories would have helped (making HER talk instead of just reacting) but I didn't really want to take over and tell them what to do.
Let's have a look at that portrait, soz.
Some people never manage to be photogenic on purpose.
I'm sorry, soz. I would hope they'd give you your money back if the photo quality wasn't good. I can understand that you may not like the poses or the composition, but if the photo is fuzzy, that's their fault.
Eh, it's fine though. Nothing too great, but perfectly adequate. You can see us and everything, it's just not super-sharp.
I'm happy with it overall -- especially for $9.99.
Don't I know the fake smile
For our christmas card with Jane on the cover, I took about 40 pictures
and she either was completely goofy or giving me this typical fake smile.
The final picture was no smile at all, but nonetheless a small anticipated
hint of it.
I didn't see this thread until now, soz, but I would've recommended J.C. Penney's. Not expensive, and seem do to a decent job.
Thanks, Ticomaya, I'll keep that in mind for next time. M-I-L seemed to indicate that she'd love to have a fresh portrait of us every Christmas, so there probably will be several next times between now and being able to afford the private/independent studio stuff.
CJane, yep, I know what you mean about the hint of a smile, too. I've gotten some good pictures of that expression when sozlet's being uncooperative.
I just saw this too Sozobe...I agree with Tico - Penney's has always done a good job - and I have liked all our pictures done at Portrait Innovations. They are actually some of my favorite. And you are right - can't beat the price or the fact that you walk out with the pictures...I got a sheet that had all the poses on it though and a cd with the pic's so I can get reprints easily - even down the road. I just can't remember if I had to pay more for that or not...
I think so, but not much.