SNELLVILLE, GEORGIA -- My family and I have had family Christmas photos for the past five years at Portrait Innovations at the Snellville, Georgia location. I've had other issues to contend with but always felt they were not insurmountable, so we returned year after year, that is until now. I will no longer have family photos taken at Portrait Innovations.
Our granddaughter was scarcely 3 months old during our first Christmas session. I recall having to have some of the photos touched up or Photoshopped because one of the props our granddaughter was in was damaged and looked unprofessional. I didn't think that was reason enough to quit going to a professional photographer. However, year after year your props are damaged and/or paint has worn off of chairs. The Christmas backdrop looks faded and aged this year, unlike previous Christmas backdrops.
In addition, I am extremely unhappy with the fact that Portrait Innovations no longer offers calendars and family book photos. The cost for the photos we choose is always over $300 and, yet, I am going to have to create my own calendars utilizing my time and incurring additional expenses and will not have family books to give as gifts. Portrait Innovations provided 12 Christmas cards, but did not include envelopes! Your company has succumbed to greed and I will no longer take my family and myself to your studio for photos. I hope this letter awakens you to the experiences we have had at your studio. I do not like to see businesses close.
CENTER VALLEY, PENNSYLVANIA -- We had an appoint at 10:55 on Saturday to have our daughter's photo taken. When we got to the studio it was complete chaos. Once it was our turn to check in (we were on time) we were told that there were four others ahead of us. And there would be a wait. I asked how long and they would not tell me. I know from past experience you are there a minimum of 30 minutes for each session so that would be at least 2 hours, TWO HOURS! Are you kidding me. Our daughter had to get to work. Why are they overbooking?? This is terrible.
We spend a lot of money there every year with having four children and we will NEVER walk in their doors again! Although the work they do is beautiful it is terrible how this company has no concern for anyone's time. I would rather pay higher prices than have to wait over 2 hours. I highly recommend avoiding this place at all cost. Kids cannot expect to wait that long and then have a productive photo session.
WYOMISSING, PENNSYLVANIA -- WTF. Who runs this business? Never have I seen such chaos, mayhem and filth as I saw at this store. And that's the management's failure. Our appointment was at 6 pm. Immediately after checking in 3 families warned us they were trapped there for 3 & 4 hours and their excuse is someone quit. LOL. If had to work there be gone too. The employees are so fake and full of ** it's not even funny.
WESLEY CHAPEL, FLORIDA -- For the last five years, we've used a local JC Penny (owned & operated by LifeTouch Photography) for all of our family portraits. We've been generally happy with that service which, on average, costs $80 and includes a TON of photos PLUS 40 holiday cards. We are also able to purchase at a constant/set price all of the HI-RES images on CD from JC Penny including a copyright release form. This November 2012, we decided to try something different.
At the Wiregrass Mall in Wesley Chapel FL, a new photo studio named "Portrait Innovations" opened for business. In summary, our experience was unsatisfactory. We will never return there nor recommend it to anyone. Here's a list of reasons:
1) Overcrowded studio. The place was PACKED to the point it was severely distracting on several levels. (A) All the children waiting with their families were LOUD, playing in the centrally-located play area as well as (B) throwing balls / toys into the open photo rooms which were currently in-session by different families. (C) It was very difficult to focus on the package choice process, due to the noise level and other customer sitting nearby and staring at the large monitors with all of our personal data displayed (name, home address, phone, etc).
In comparison with JC Penny, there was never more than three families present; the customer currently being photographed, the prior customer choosing their package, and the customer waiting to be photographed next. The JCP studio was ALWAYS quiet and well-mannered.
2) Deceptive marketing. We were enticed by a low-price ad of $14.95. While most ads are designed to lure customers, this one was completely deceptive. When we first sat down to review our photo session, the sales rep's first pitch was for all of the photos taken. Cost? $494.00 USD. I nearly fell off the chair and had to restrain myself not to get up and walk out.
When we asked what the advertisement was offering, we were told it was "CHOOSE ONE POSE ONLY" and have it printed on the variety of formats offered in the ad. This was despite their shooting over 70 images during our session. We definitely feel this was a scam, especially in comparison to our prior years' experience with JCPenny Portrait Studio who never attempted such deceptive marketing measures.
3) Three shots per pose. They only shot three photos of each pose, even if someone blinked or one family member wasn't looking directly at the camera. There was no obvious on-the-spot checking to see if the photographer captured the intended shot. This was not the case with JCP who had a nearby monitor in which they reviewed each and every shot before moving onto the next pose.
4) No placement of subjects/blocking faces. We kept expecting the so-called photographer to place us or, at least, advise us to adjust our positions in reference to the shot and others in our group. This did not occur and, as a result, we had shots where one person was blocking a significant portion of another person's face which destroyed the shot. Again, this is contrary to our experience with JC Penny portraits.
5) No training. When I asked our young photographer where they were trained, they confessed to having NO professional or commercial photography experience prior to working for Portrait Innovations in Wesley Chapel FL at the Wiregrass Mall. They said that the studio offered some training but it focused more on the "protocol" (as they put it; meaning the 3-shots-only as discussed above) and the proprietary software and up-selling process that followed. While I understand that we all have our first job with little to no experience, this does fully explain the other complaints I have mentioned in this blog.
6) No retouching. While many (but not all) of the shots were decent, they all were raw. Neither the sales process nor automated software performed any retouching whereby a photo is "softened" or processed in a way that reduces the wrinkles, blemishes or other imperfections one would get while shooting at the HI-RES (10MB and above) quality that their professional cameras captured. JC Penny Portrait Studio offered this non-intrusive processing on our prior years' photos and it only enhanced the holiday images that were chosen in our package.
For those not understanding what I mean here; the high-resolution photos are intelligently processed by software that recognizes eyes, teeth and other features which are then protected from the "softening" process, so as to retain the crispness of those features. When performed properly, it beautifies the overall photograph.
7) Deceptive CD. (A) The package came with a CD but it only contains the LOW-RES images from the session. Moreover, each digital image has a footer with the studio's name and website address. The studio "encouraged" us to share the low-res images on Facebook and other social websites, clearly at their gain, thanks to the embedded marketing on OUR paid-for photos. Fortunately, using simple and no-cost tools such as WWW. GETPAINT.NET, one can easily and quickly crop off the marking footer from these photos. (B) Following suit with 7A, the CD contains encrypted versions of the hi-res images, in a file-format ".PI2".
8) Digital images are not retained. Session photo images are NOT available online for reordering. In fact, Portrait Innovations was quick to inform us that ALL of our photographs would be DESTROYED after we left the studio. Hence, the CD being the only copy of the session and, regardless of how much money one spent, the images would REMAIN encrypted and would therefore require additional purchasing to order more/different copies... and all this by revisiting the studio with CD in-hand.
This is VERY different from JC Penny Portrait Studio who otherwise provide ALL of the session images on CD - in BOTH high-res and low-res - INCLUDING a digital COPYRIGHT RELEASE thereby allowing the purchaser or their extended families to make copies at any printing facility of their choice such as Walmart, Walgreens, etc.
In summary, we would never again use Portrait Innovations photo studio in Wesley Chapel Florida (nor any other location). Moreover, we would not recommend Portrait Innovations to anyone who would also be upset by the aforementioned issues, should they likely occur during their session.. or by having their precious keepsake digital memories held ransom for a cost.
BEL AIRE, MARYLAND -- My family and I traveled for about 2 hours to Bel-Air to have our Christmas portraits taken on 12/15/18. And we've been doing this for a couple of years now. However, last December's experience was a horrible one. After our session, we were told we would not receive a link (to see our pictures on line) right away as before since Portrait Innovations has changed the way things are done with new management. It's more than a month close to 2 months now and we still haven't seen any link.
I called the studio and the people I spoke to told me they cannot help. I was given customer service number which is no help because one just listens to a recorded message and phone hangs up. I have sent email and that still didn't do. We're never going back to Portrait Innovation again considering every time we've gone there, we spent over two hundred dollars.
SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS -- Family had flown in from New York and Utah and I specifically sought out studio where I could immediately walk away with pictures that day. Upon arrival (10 minutes early) I was informed that they were about 20-30 minutes behind. That wait turned into over an hour. To add to the disappointment their printer was down and they stated it was in the process of being repaired and worst case we would have to pick them up that evening. We proceeded with the picture taking process which was so poorly done. Photographer did little more than count down 3,2,1 for each photo. No effort was made to encourage the young child with us to smile or look at camera.
When the picture taking process was completed we were brought to a kiosk computer with a pixelating screen to review the pictures. When I inquired as to prints they stated printer was still down and photos would have to be picked up after Christmas. This was impossible as we were all leaving to return to our respective states. I would be once again traveling full time in my RV the day after Christmas. This was the first time my whole family was together in multiple years. So disappointing!
When I inquired about having pictures put on a cd disk instead of being printed as their printer wasn't getting fixed anytime soon, they stated that the cost was 400. An outrageous sum for mediocre quality pictures. After much discussion the price was reduced to 298 plus tax. Still an outrage but my family photos were being held for ransom and I so wanted the physical memories of our Christmas together. This company is a bait and switch that does not clearly explain their picture packages prior to the photo shoot.
GREENWOOD, INDIANA -- Went to get family pictures and they never used our coupon of 19.99 with a free mug and ornament. Said it was 99.00. 2 sheet of portraits was 70.00. 1 advertises special was 29.99. Gave us 20 percent of 14.00 off and we paid 92.01. They charge 29.99 per sheet. Now nothing like it used to be and I will not ever be returning at those prices again. At 68 and 70 we can't afford this stuff. Don't see how families now can and they are pricing themself out of a business if they keep this crap up. Pictures nice but not that nice.
HOOVER, ALABAMA -- I took my babies 1 and 2 to get their first portraits and Christmas cards. I had a Appointment at noon but was told that day that I could come in at ten. My babies were in a good mood and ready to go. Around noon someone asked me who I was (checked in at the front when I got there too). We still sat there till 145! No explanation as to what was going on and why they didn't take me when they said they could OR as to why I didn't get in by my scheduled time. By the time it was our turn my babies were so fussy and done with being there.
I wasted 4 hours out of my day for no reason. The only professional one was being pulled everywhere try to help all the other photographers and answer questions. These people should know how to answer. As she was starting my session she was getting my oldest to have fun doing this and she got pulled away AGAIN. The person who took over for her seemed to lose interest as soon as I showed her my coupon. Like I didn't matter as much cause I was using one. I will NOT ever use this place again. Very unprofessional all together besides the one photographer.
NORTHVILLE, MICHIGAN -- Booked our 33rd appointment in 10 year span and was shocked at the level of experience, lack of training that now exists, the much higher price plus the one thing that made them attractive; leave with your photos! Booked our appointment weeks in advance for my granddaughter's 10 year old portrait. On Saturday November 3, although they were not very busy, we were forced to wait 35 minutes. This is expected at the all too busy Christmas-holiday time, not on November 3rd when they were clearly not that busy.
Our photographer, Heather, had little imagination, was totally clueless and if not for our experience and suggestions, our portraits would have been a disaster. The packages have changed drastically. At prior visits, I would spend less than $100 and have a high resolution CD. Not anymore! Now you must spend $549 to get this CD. We chose 6 poses, paid $116 and received low resolution CD. There was always a FREE item; mug, post cards, something. Not anymore! And then, upon check out, learn we must come back an hour later to get our pictures! Seriously? We have chosen Portrait Innovations over other studios to avoid returning. They have priced themselves out of the market and this family will not ever return!
The dimwits at checkout tried to tell me they have a price increase typically at this time. I've spent more time in that studio than anyone I spoke to. In a month or two, they'll be gone and new 'photographers' will arrive, again with little or no training. No creativity will be found in this studio. Contact JC Penney or others. DO NOT WASTE YOUR TIME OR MONEY ON PORTRAIT INNOVATIONS.
PLEASANT PRAIRIE, WISCONSIN -- On a trip to meet my new niece in Illinois, I talked my sister-in-law into taking our three children to Portrait Innovations for pictures together. I have been using Portrait Innovations for over 8 years, originally in Colorado, and most recently in Arkansas. At the studio in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, on November 10, 2012, our studio session went great! The photographer was nice, even though her camera battery died just as the infant gave us her best smile of the day - figures, right?
As we were selecting our photos for purchase, I point-blank asked the photographer which package was the smallest package with a CD. She told me the 6 pose package for $129.99 (plus $15 for the gimmick package) was the smallest with a CD. I'll admit my husband is the one with the good memory and he wasn't with me, but I thought that seemed like a little more than we'd selected a few weeks earlier at our Arkansas studio. After selecting our 6 poses, I again asked the photographer if this was the smallest package with a CD. She said yes.
That evening I called my husband to tell him what a great time we had and asked if he remembered what package we'd bought a few weeks earlier in Arkansas. He did better than that - he pulled out the receipt. We had purchased a THREE pose package with a CD for $69.99 on September 23, 2012.
I called the Wisconsin studio the next morning and asked for our photographer. I thought it right to give her an opportunity to explain herself, rather than attacking her to her manager. She said that the 3 pose package had been discontinued. I asked her when that was and she said it was about a month before, when the Christmas backgrounds began being offered. Still not completely trusting the photographer, I called our Arkansas studio and asked if (1) all the studios had the same packages (they said yes) and (2) if they were still offering the 3 pose package with a CD. They said yes again.
This time I called the manager at Pleasant Prairie. She got on the phone and I explained how upset I was that our photographer lied to us! She made no apology!!! I couldn't believe it!!! In fact, she said that her photographer was just trying to help us get a better deal, but that if we wanted to bring three of our poses back she'd refund $15. She said the 3 pose package had increased from $69.99 to $114.99 from September to November! So the price difference from the 3 pose package to the 6 pose package was $15. Furthermore, I couldn't get my refund until the calendars they ordered for us, all poses our photographer selected, arrived via mail!
I decided to eat the $15 rather than drive from Arkansas to Wisconsin to return their items. However, I've learned my lesson. I'm taking bets on how long a company that was great 8 years ago can survive with employees and policies like these. The CD quality has completely deteriorated and they've added an advertisement to the bottom of each picture on the CD. I had been telling my friends in Arkansas about this great studio we'd loved in Colorado that had finally made its way to us in Arkansas. Not anymore.
IF I darken the door of a Portrait Innovations again (solely due to the honesty of the local studio) it will be only for the $15 gimmick package - until they change that too! Be warned - Portrait Innovations lies with no apology!!!