So this past weekend my wife and I took the kids to get their pictures taken at The Picture People at the mall. We had a coupon for a free 8×10 portrait and since we hadn’t had pictures taken of our children together we thought we’d go (the little one is an infant). We figured we’d go in, get our picture and get out. Far from it!
They have some marketing plan set up there! We got there and checked in. When it was our turn we were brought to a curtained off area to take pictures. The photographer is a young guy with a digital camera. He took all sorts of pics with each child separately as well as together. When the picture taking was over we told to wait a bit and we would be helped.
Here is where they get us:
- They show you about 20 pictures, all which make you say “awwwww.” Now we want all of the pictures.
- The sales person says “wouldn’t this be nice” and takes out a large, vertical, black and white portrait already framed. It looks amazing until we’re told it costs about $150. He also produces a large horizontal frame with three photos.
- When we seem like we’re not so sure he tells us there’s a way he can get us the three pic frame as well as some others in a great package that will save money. Sounds interesting. Oh, the package costs $249!!
- When we’ve finally decided what we want (much more than what we planned) and we’re ready to pay we’re told about a membership club we can join that will make one of our pics cheaper and entitle us to some free pics throughout the year.
- They also ask for your email address so you can view your photos online. They encourage you to send the site to friends and family so they can see if there’s pictures they want to buy (you can put a picture on anything from a mug to a mouse pad or just order copies).
Suffice it to say we spent way more than we intended to. The pictures do look great (including the three picture frame we got) and they have everything done for you within an hour.
Pros and Cons About The Picture People
- Convenience – We made an appointment and went to the mall. We didn’t have to schedule a photographer to come to the house.
- Ease of Service – The people were friendly and you walk out with your photos within an hour.
- Price – Although we spent more than we wanted to it would have cost more to hire a photographer.
- Quality – The pictures really do look great!
- Atmosphere – It’s a bit of a mad house there with all of the families coming and going, many with small children.
- Price – Yes it’s relatively inexpensive but the photos and packages still come out to a hefty amount (at least to our liking).
- Emotional Factor – It’s really tough to say no to all these great pictures of your children. You see them and want them all. I jokingly told the sales person that it would be on his conscience if we couldn’t afford to put our kids through college.
Overall we’re happy with the product and we will be going back to get our free pictures (yeah we signed up for the membership). Since we now have some nice photos we won’t be needed large packages and we intend to only go for our promotional photo.
The big lesson here is that spending is emotional and we have to be careful not to let our emotions get the better of our budget!
I remember those picture days and spending more $ than I should have. But now that the kids are 20 and 16, I know it was worth it. You will find that, over the years, the $$ was nothing in comparison to the memories preserved.
I’m late getting around to visit all of the Carnival participants. (Crazy week . . . only excuse!)
THANK YOU for being part of Colloquium’s inaugural edition. I appreciate your support.
Don’t forget that this week’s Carnival will be hosted at All Rileyed Up. If you haven’t submitted a post yet, you can do so until midnight (Pacific Time) tonight!
I must say, I understand people not wanting to spend a lot of money on pictures in the current economic state, but these are memories you will cherish for a lifetime. I work at The Picture People and have for close to 3 years. We are trained photographers, not just “guys with digital cameras”. We are also trained in child development. I feel blessed to be able to capture moments in time for people to display in thier homes. Also, the portrait club is a great tool for those people looking to purchase a collection or who plan on visiting our studio more than once a year. Do the math, it will save you money. I would personally have one if I didn’t work there. I am glad you loved your 20 images and trilogy! The Picture People really is a wonderful place
Glen Craig says
@ Lauren – Indeed we did love our pictures. But there does seem to be a big push to upsell people once they have their pictures taken. I would be happier if they were more upfront with their options and the cost. That you’ve worked probably says a lot about how they treat their employees (which I’m assuming is good). I’m not saying that one shouldn’t use their services. One just needs to be aware of their budget and go in knowing what they are willing to spend. Thanks for stopping by and leaving your opinion. It’s nice to hear from the other side!
hey, great article! I’m a newborn/portrait photographer myself and I totally see what a great marketing thing The Picture People have going…but i def. agree with being open and clear about pricing. But they would be out of business if they didn’t use the emotion as a way to make a sell. You really won’t spend your whole life savings on pictures, but the emotion is what makes you feel a little more comfortable spending the extra buck! But i know what you mean because that is ONE of the main reasons, when I was considering working for The Picture People, I decided not to work there. I don’t like the whole sales person thing. I just want to take pictures and hope my clients enjoy them! But perhaps I should take a few tips from them since my business isn’t doing so well 🙁 But thanks for the article!
Great post Glen!
I am also a local photographer in the Boston area and we have Picture People here in our local malls. I tend to think of Picture People as your typical local department store photography studio. Your images that were taken in the 15 minute session time look just like everyone else that walked into the door! As far as I know, the employees at Picture People work on commission and that’s why they get pushy with sales. I have had a couple of assistants in the past (former PP employees) and they have said the job was one of the worst they’ve had. One assistant even told me that they were threatened to be let go if they didn’t make over $150 in sales per client. These large chain studios make money from the mass amounts of people that use their services and tend not to focus on the customer service that you would find in a local studio.
I know it’s nice to see your images on a solid white backdrop or patterned backdrop, but most of the clients I get love the fact that I spend time to create images and not just pose them in front of a light. I never pressure sales after the session, however when clients come back to view their images, they see several options hanging on my walls and that alone draws sales.
Professional Photography is more of a luxury and my clients are glad that they came to me and not the typical cookie cutter photo studio. Wouldn’t you feel better getting something more custom and professional for your money even if you spent a little more that what you were expecting?
Kaileigh Komorofski says
I just have to say that as a previous Picture People employee, that you do not work on commission and I know we were never threatened to be fired if we didn’t meet a certain amount. Yes, you are taught to try and upsell the product because that is what the company has found to work. You need to understand walking in that this is a business and there for they are out to make money, however it’s not a ridiculous amount of money considering you really do get a wonderful product and you normally get them much faster than that which you would from a personal photographer. I know that we had full creative range for our photography sessions so I disagree that you end up with the same type of picture as anyone else who walks into the door, at least where I worked we came up with all types of wonderful and creative ways to take photos as well as included the traditional staples we knew people were looking for, which very much is the same as a personal photographer. I think if you can’t afford to dish out $100-$300 for an hour session fee and then a high amount for prints and extras, then the Picture People is a wonderful option for you, its hardly a cookie cutter type of studio, in fact they really train to move away from cookie cutter images.
The thing with the portrait club is also, with most packages you would buy (this is when they had the staple packages not the new ones) is that it really would save you money, as it brought you a percentage off of the package so basically it was included and you still saved a few bucks.
I love going to picture people. & FYI…. Private photographers cost SOOOOOOO much more than $300 an hour. I was trying to book a pregnancy photo shoot, and the photographer wanted $245 for 15 minutes of taking pictures. And then she said she would come up with the best 5 prints of the shoot. & on top of that pay for prints…. Uh, no…. Lol
Picture people is a great option if your can’t afford that “LUXURY” shoot with the private photographer. Besides, I’ve always gotten amazing service and my baby loves one in particular, so we always all for her.
The manager is always willing to answer or questions, and if you take advantage of their online email coupons, you get great deals!!! Their seasonal coupons are awesome too!!!!
And yes, the sight of loving every picture gets you, (I’m a victim of emotional shopping as well), but the memories are for a live time!!!
I personally love picture people, and it doesn’t have to be a traditional white back drop…. I just made an appointment to take in my 7 month old for a father’s day portrait, and since my husband is a Fisher, I made a wood sick fishing pole with line from his stock, and they will provide an aluminum bucket to sit him in and a sudden bridge, and I will dress him up and WALA!!!!! You got yourself something original and genious for dad!!!
So just because it’s simpler than an out for photo shoot, don’t knock them down. They do an amazing job with our kids and still are pretty fairly priced!!!!
So ROCK ON PICTURE PEOPLE!!!!!!
We LOVE Picture People! Just a little future tip for ya….if you buy the Groupon for $16 (which includes a printed package of 2 8x10s..etc. You then qualify for the High Resolution disc…of ALL pictures taken from your session..for half off. That’s $75 (usually $150). Then…you have full rights to print any picture in any size you like. 🙂 So you go in…get all the poses you want taken…walk out paying S75 for them all!
I am a photographer but I will admit that when it comes to your own kid it is so much easier to have someone else take pictures of your kid. Now that that is out of the way, let’s review a few things….
1. It is not a requirement that you are trained as a photographer or in child development as one post previously said. I know three different people who work for places like these ( one for PP) and none of them has training in either.
2. In the general scheme of things in photography would it cost more to have a private photographer do your pictures-sure! But these places give you 15 min and that’s it. They don’t photoshop your photos. They are told they can only take a certain number. So I guess you better hope your kid us perfectly well behaved and that he has model abilities because you may not be so happy.
3. There stores are a mad house and they are constantly running late. They need to make up that time with other customers cause the store won’t stay open later cause they got backed up.
4. It isn’t the fact that they are expensive-it’s them fact that they don’t tell you up front. I went to a private photographer to get my son’s newborn pictures and we got about 75 good shots. I got all of them on a memory card, with 5 photoshopped ( my mom, husband and I can use photoshop so I didn’t care if none of them were) but I have them forever. We were at her studio for three hours! It cost me 350. My first time at PP it cost me almost 400!
Look I’m not saying I don’t like my pics-I’m lucky that my son is very photogenic and loves having his picture taken. Let’s just be real about the ups and downs like this guy was. It’s not that any of the places are bad but they have pros and cons just like a private photographer does.