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Friday, December 4, 2009

The Bane of My Existence: Christmas Portraits

As if I haven't already overextended myself this holiday season, I am on another Mother Mission: Christmas portraits. It's only December 4 and already I'm freaking out. I haven't decorated my house yet, have two huge sheets of Oreo truffles in the fridge waiting to melt in time for my son's school Christmas bazaar, and now have the daunting task of making a holiday dress for my daughter in time for our cutesy family photo. I thought, What a great idea! since it had officially been five years since our last one. That prompted me to call Sears. Well. A quick search online has revealed that I can (and did) schedule my portrait online. However, with only three weeks left, I wondered how long it would take them to be ordered. I realize they can print them out in the studio while you wait, which does cost more (a policy that I don't think they do a very good job of disclosing up-front). It has been my experience that when sent out, they turn out better. At least among those portraits that I've actually managed to hang up around my house. Because the turnaround time is probably going to be too long, I'm tempted to take them myself. As a slightly amateurish photographer who has taken plenty of portraits of her children, I know this is possible, but I'd almost rather have an unmedicated root canal, to be perfectly honest. That's why we call the professionals. At least when they answer the phone. I say this because I've been trying to reach someone at my local Sears Portrait Studio for the last four hours plus, with no luck. Just to ask that simple question. I really don't blame them. I can just picture the scenario: there is one lone manager running the place with six or eight families waiting, all with kids in fancy dresses that are itchy and uncomfortable. Poopy diapers, a few runny noses, and moms with unrealistic expectations of how their photos should turn out. All who want a lot of something for nothing, basically, which seems to be true of the retail industry in general today. (gotta stimulate that economy somehow, I guess) I know now not to blame the photographers after searching online for the answer to my question. I really didn't find it, but I did find how the corporate company that owns the studios, CPI, basically seems to treat their employees like crap. Just based on the few things I read, they are forced to schedule appointment sessions every 15 minutes (as if!) and then force expensive packages onto their customers, lest they risk losing their jobs. A quick Google search will reveal that they also own Picture Me! Studios from Walmart, and they basically treat those people the same way. So, so sad. Fifteen minutes to photograph a couple of snot-nosed kids who don't feel well and would rather go play or puke everywhere than get their picture taken - sounds about right. You can't even get everyone into the same room in 15 minutes, much less have the session completely over with. I know, because photographing my own children is like herding elephants through the eye of a needle. Perhaps the management at CPI don't have children, otherwise they'd realize this fact themselves. It's really too bad, because overall, I think the photographers at Sears know what they're doing and produce a good product. It's just too bad that they also have unrealistic expectations hanging over their heads by an out-of-touch management staff who wants nothing more than more money from the unsuspecting public. So, because I'm so neurotic and anal (and a bit of a procrastinator, it seems), I will probably end up shooting my children's pictures myself. Better go and schedule that root canal.