Alias: 'Disco Dude'

Uncompromised Quality Photography
By Photographer Dan Harris

A home-studio photography business in Jacksonville, FL
1124 Riviera St.  Jacksonville, FL  32207 (904) 398-7668

Studio Portrait Photography Question

What's the difference between a 'home studio' like yours and the one at the mall?

by Jacksonville Florida Family Portrait Studio Photographer Dan Harris

Typically in a 'large volume' retail photo studio everything is geared towards a large-volume of clients, minimal customization, personalization or specialized services. You can hear the clerk now, "I'm sorry, today everyone must wear the angel wings -- even the devilish ones!"

Most high-volume studios base their package programs on loss-leader promotions. i.e. $9.95 sitting specials, seasonal specials, etc. After they lure you in with their 'special' they later surprise you with the $48 'posing' charge or other hidden, undisclosed costs.

Most camera operators at a high-volume studio are not professionally trained photographers and know very little about lighting, composition, color consultation, facial evaluation or posing. In a personalized smaller-volume boutique studio like mine the well-trained professional photographer (who is also the owner) is the one who actually takes the photographs and sets-up the lighting, background, etc. to insure you look your best in a one-of-a-kind situation. The quality of the final image is often determined by the camera operator, so in a high-volume studio different camera operators will give different results.

Many of the 'chain-store' type of studios have a 'high cheese' factor where they often promote low-class, cheesy products. Although pricing is usually lower at the chain-stores so is their quality and service. Many of them never start on time, won't conform to your schedule and often keep you waiting. Their price structures, promotions, specials and programs are very confusing and they torture you with hard-sales tactics.

High-volume studios are low on personalized services due to their high-volume shooting schedule. High-volume studios have time restraints based on their schedule and nor yours. They seldom offer retouching and digital enhancing services. Special need requirements or favors are usually 'impossible' based on company policies and procedures.

The camera room setup at the mall or high-volume studio is typically 'one-size, fits-all' --the photographically untrained employees are not allowed to move the lights so they can't make a lighting adjustment to improve a lazy eye, or a curved nose or a flat face. They won't be able to apply the right lighting and after-capture effects that will make you look your best. A well-trained professional photographer will evaluate facial structure and body features and adjust the lighting, camera angle and lens to produce the most flattering look. The large franchised studio will typically have one stationary lighting setup to fit all situations and usually that lighting is very bright and flat, (often making people look heavier than they really are) not always the most flattering. They usually only have one or two off-camera lights whereas we will use up to six lights in our studio allowing for many more options.

One-hour reprints are not made with the high-quality archival materials you will find at our studio. One-hour reprints allow no time for retouching or enhancing. The mall or large retail chain store studio misses out on all the 'little' things that add up to a much better quality portrait. Their options are limited and usually on the low-end of the quality scale. These high-volume studios often offer 'after-market' frames and accessories that are typically very 'low-end', and of inferior quality but sold to you under high pressure.

When all is said and done, at the high-volume studio you get what you pay for and ultimately end up with less value for your money, not to mention you are now on the corporate 'bug-mail' list and will be hounded by phone and mail every 6 weeks to try to get you back into the studio for more mediocre photos.

Obviously there is a market for this type of photography due to the number of studios operating in this manner. Thankfully the more discriminating photography buyers prefer our very unique, one-of-a-kind, boutique photography service that gives the best quality money can buy not to mention great service and less cheese!


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Dan Harris PhotoArt, LLC (904) 398-7668
1124 Riviera Street Jacksonville FL 32207