I’ve been there. Kids in the cart, groceries too. All I need is a few prints, and all I have is negative 10 minutes. I don’t have time for excuses, machines not working, or tracking down someone who is willing to help me. Yeah, I could do it at home. But I tried last night, and my local store wasn’t an option, which means, something is wrong in-store. I tried last week, and there were lines through my prints. The associate covering didn’t know why and when my images were reprinted the lines only grew stronger. So, I had to try again at another time.
I’m not knocking department store photo labs. I used to run one. I’ve set up another in an expanding store. I trained plenty of associates how to properly print images, look for copyrighted ones so the company won’t get sued or worse, we don’t lose our jobs, and how to fix the machines, etc. I’ve instructed customers on kiosk, editing, sizing, educating, and even denied bare butt bottom pictures that were too close to porn. So, I know what it is like to have a LINE of people at my register on Christmas Eve and the machines stop working. In June, when graduations start rolling on the calendar, and mom is trying to print 18 years’ worth of snapshots, I must guide them through the process and hope the kiosk doesn’t crash while they are operating it. The hardest people to turn away were ones preparing for a funeral and they had no print release to show me. People get angry when the service they are promised falls through. It’s not always the associate behind the counters fault, or the lack of the associate scheduled, but someone must take the blame.
I’ve been operating as a CNY Newborn professional photographer for several years now. And for all the reasons above, plus a few more, I encourage my clients to allow me to handle printing their most treasured memories.
- First off, the quality of a department store’s printing, will not match that of my professional lab. I must prove I’m a professional photographer before I can have an account and order from them. Then I have to calibrate my images to their printer so what I see on my computer screen, and all the time I put into editing, will be what my client sees when I hand them the finished product. I have compared the exact same images printed from both sources and was shocked at the lack of quality that was produced by the retail’s 1-hour service.
- As someone who loves to “DIY”, I waste more time trying to figure out the ropes then if I would let a pro handle it. To me, time is precious. I have a to-do list everyday that my children tell me to STOP ADDING STUFF TO IT! I get so irritated with 1-hour online services that are slow, or poorly put together, can’t handle the capacity of my order, or labs are down, and I just wasted my time altogether. I am equally frustrated when visiting the photo lab to find there is no one to help me (or simply retrieve my order from behind the counter) or the machines aren’t working up to par. No, it doesn’t happen all the time, but it has happened enough to where, if I can wait to place my order with a client’s, I will do so, spending a little more, and avoid the department store photo lab experience altogether.
- Like I said, time is precious. You are a new mom, or an expecting mom. You are thrilled to be snuggling your baby, bonding, examining their features, and just loving on your baby. You are already losing more sleep than you can handle, your housework is at a stall, a shower would be dream, and you can’t remember the last time you had hot coffee. Mom, that last thing you need is to worry about printing your newborn and family portraits. When I am with clients, I counsel them on sizing, grouping portraits, and assisting them through the process on top handling their order from start to finish. All mom and dad must do is go home and enjoy their baby. And try to sleep while baby is sleeping!
Please do not misunderstand me. I respect the retail workers and their jobs. Somebody has got to do it. I was once that somebody and did it right under nine years. Like any other experience, I have wonderful memories of the people and customers I interacted with and some I bury deep down and hope to never regurgitate. But for my clients, the people who come to see me, I want the best for them. I want them to encounter a full-service with a smile, portrait studio experience that will blow their socks off and ease their minds. So, avoid the lines and hassles and allow me to print your professional portraits.