One of the joys or duties of having young children is the portrait session time! How often you get your child’s picture taken varies, but an average is every 3-4 months in the first year, 2-3 times in the second year, and usually twice a year thereafter, at least until it is time for school photos.
Picture People has a unique take on the experience. In this age of digital everything, Picture People uses film for their portraits. And unlike other studios that use film, Picture People has the portraits ready to look at, choose, and take home in about one hour.
Portrait Innovations uses digital cameras. But their innovation to the portrait experience is hand-held cameras, so the photographers can kick off their shoes, crouch, crawl and do whatever it takes to get the photo desired. The goal is fresh and unposed portraits with personality. One drawback that I noticed with this approach is that sometimes it is difficult to use a prop to make a child laugh and snap a picture with a hand-held camera at the same time. The photographers usually spend the extra time though to get quality shots. Their photos are ready to view and choose from immediately. You are shown 36 photo choices on a plasma big-screen monitor. Once your selections have been made, the portraits are ready to pick up in one hour.
Picture People uses canvas backdrops and most photos are taken with baby or child on the backdrop covered floor, not on a table like some studios. They have plenty of props. Some are geared toward specific age groups, some for holidays, and others are useful for group shots or a child that is slow to warm up to the camera.
Portrait Innovations uses a cloth backdrop for some shots. But another of their unique twists on the portrait session is the room that the portraits are taken in becomes part of the background. For instance, at the Christmas season, photos are taken in front of a real Christmas tree with real wrapped boxes in front of it and a backdrop of a frosted window pane. Portrait Innovations incorporates lots of props into their shots, like a larger than life size stuffed bear, vintage toys, a toy motorcycle, or a faux sheep skin rug. The intended result is homey, warm and natural portraits.
Usually, a Picture People studio is located in a shopping mall. The dÃ?Â©cor is bold, bright, clean, and cheerful. Their portraits tend to evoke the same feeling. The showroom has a wall of available special merchandise like pillows with an insert for a small picture, picture-printed neckties, and unique frames. Also in the showroom are padded benches; wall toys for children to play with; and the counter where the customer signs in and eventually looks at the finished portraits.
Portrait Innovations’ studios are an open space that is colorful, warm, and inviting. Comfortable, brightly-colored, large couches and chairs invite the client to sit and relax; private dressing rooms are available for clothing changes and last minute preparation; fun Lego play tables keep the waiting children occupied.
Photographic sessions at both Picture People and Portrait Innovations last between a half hour and an hour for a single subject, depending on the age and attention span of the subject. Both studios also employ their photographers to answer the phones, man the front desk, make appointments, and show finished portrait packages.
Portrait Innovations offers cards and calendars with your favorite portrait. They also have several enhancements like black-and-white photos, sepia tone, unique borders, and a collage assortment.
Picture People has several wooden wall frames with a palette of mattes to choose from. They also have special gift merchandise like keychains that hold photos, brag books, pillows, mailers and greeting cards. Special order items include portrait sculptures, portrait puzzles, portrait neckties, and a portrait sculpture magnet.
The prices at Picture People start at $46 for one pose package. A pose package is one 8×10, two 5x7s, and eight wallet sized pictures. One sheet, if you choose that option rather than a whole package, is $18. Picture People does not charge a sitting fee. Changes in background or clothing are at no additional cost.
Portrait Innovations allows the customer to make their own customized packages, choosing sizes and photos. They usually run a $9.95 special that includes a 10×13, two 8x10s, four 5x7s, four 3x5s, 32 wallets, and 6 personalized portrait cards of your choice. This package can only be one pose. Individual sheets of additional poses range from $5.50 to $15.00 each, depending on the quantity purchased. The per sheet cost drops with larger quantities. Portrait Innovations does not charge a sitting fee either. The photographer will usually use 3 or 4 backgrounds and clothing changes are unlimited.
Picture People has specific hours for pet portraits, either individually or as part of the family. Portrait Innovations do not allow animals in their studios, citing possible danger to small children and allergies as the reason.
For photography studios that cater to the same type of consumer in many of the same markets, both Portrait Innovations and Picture People bring their unique vision of photography to a photo session. Picture People’s finished product tends to be a bold, clean, simple look that some people prefer. Their portraits tend to make my very fair girls look washed-out with no impact, however. Portrait Innovations’ pictures appear warmer and more natural, but getting quality shots of very young children with a camera that requires two hands to operate can be a frustrating and time-consuming process.