A couple weeks ago my little girl turned the big 1 year old.  As is customary, we went and had some pictures taken at the local portrait studio.  She was a real trooper and we got some really nice pictures of her with varied props and outfits.  The photographer was really nice and you could tell she was familiar with working with babies by how well she handled ours.  When our session was over, we waited in the front room for our proofs to be done.  

Now, I remember going with my family to Olan Mills for our family portrait when I was 10 or so.  We probably only got 4 shots taken, and my mom had to go back a week later to look at the proofs.  It’s quite amazing how digital photography has changed the scene when it comes to getting your family portraits done.  But what’s really annoying is how the sales strategy haven’t.

For instance when my mom went back to look at our proofs, all those years ago, they tried to convince her to buy some doctored up images (you know, the soft lights, the sepia tone, the one with the weird black oval around the face) to go along with the actual portraits.  The sales person would explain how she could have a special deal because she was already buying a regular set.  Knowing the slightest bit about photography developing, I can appreciate the amount of work that went into actually doctoring the development process to get some of those shots to work.  However, that was 17 years ago.

When picking up my daughters pictures yesterday after work, the sales girl took them out of the envelope to show each one to me.  At the end of the ones we ordered were a couple ones we didn’t; some had multiple images in a collage, some had text on them, one was in black and white.  The girl then told me the exact same sales pitch my mom got  nearly two decades ago!  I tried very nicely to tell her that I wasn’t interested and that we really only wanted the ones we ordered, and the harpy actually had the gall to hold up the black and white one and say “But look how cute she is!  Are you sure you don’t want to have this one too!?  Look how the black and white bring out her eyelashes!”

Ok first off, that’s not black and white; it’s a color image where the color has been removed.  Actual black and white is taken on film at 125 ASA and has a higher contrast because of a combination of chemicals used on the film and the chemicals used in the bath afterwards.  Had the picture been actually taken on black and white film, I probably would have bought it cause I can only picture how good it would have looked.

Secondly, I own a handy little device at home that you may have heard of called a “Computer” which allows me to take images and edit them in any way I see fit.  I can also resize them and print them in any arrangement I want!  It’s amazing!  In fact, I’ll bet most people have one! 

Thirdly, and this is probably just me, I kind of resent a sales girl holding up a picture of my daughter like it’s a puppy that’s about to be gassed.  Don’t try and guilt me into buying a picture of my kid.  I know how cute she is, I’m about to go home to her!

The days of waiting for someone who really knows what they’re doing to work on some special effects on your photos is long gone.  Anyone with ANY sort of imaging program and a scanner (it doesn’t even have to be a good one) can do most the things the portrait studios would do for you.  If you’re really lost on digital manipulation, just cut and paste your pictures into Microsoft Word and move them around to get the same effect.  

Honestly, I might just bring my own camera to the next portrait shoot we do with the kids.

About The Author

Co-founder of Stolendroids.com and Executive Producer for Stolendroids Podcast. Also resident 'tech-head' and de-facto leader of the group.

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  • zohner

    I love how my daughter’s school sends home the actual pictures so that the parents can scan them, err… I mean look them over before buying. The thing that I don’t like though is how, even with all of the manipulation tools out there, they still manage to show the sloppy joe from lunch that is plastered on her cheek. Thank goodness for Photoshop.

  • I can’t wait for them to start to offer the original images. I would happily pay extra for a CD or DVD with the original high resolution images! At least the ones we ordered; if you only ordered 4 of the 20 shots they took, then you’d only get those same 4 in original format.