What do you say to portrait prospects (about WalMart)

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Sharon Everett, Jan 16, 2004.

  1. I notice an increasing number of people who are of the attitude that
    they can and should get excellent "professional" portraits at Wal Mart
    photo studios. Pros who resent losing business to the giveaway prices
    and cookie-cutter sittings will probably disagree, but I find that
    most lay people I talk to non-professionally are quite happy with
    their portraits and family photos from Wal Mart. That's what counts.

    And I have to admit that of the group shots I've seen wherein I know
    most or all of the people in the shots, that the expressions are good,
    good likenesses, great smiles -- on everyone in the picts. The
    customers really got their money's worth, IMO, and as far as the
    likenesses and smiles, I'm not sure they could get better elsewhere,
    even for many times the price. They got more than their money's worth,
    from most of what I've seen.

    That seems to be the attitude of these everyday people: "Why would I
    go anywhere else for more money, when I see such great family
    photographs at Wal Mart?"

    Note that these are not all blue collar people with modest incomes,
    either. Many could afford several hundred dollars for typical portrait
    work. But when I talk to them, they fail to see why they should pay
    more when they can get such good 8 by 10s, wallets, and medium sized
    prints for near-nothing. Pulling out books of Scavullo's and Ray Jones
    and Hurrell's and other past and present greats' work for comparison
    means nothing to most people, much less my own good promo pics.

    Wal Mart is giving them what they want and for peanuts.

    How do some of you sell your portrait services when people bring up
    Wal Mart? Self-serving talk about "better quality" doesn't do it
    anymore with many of these folks who aren't susceptible to common
    salesmanship techniques and who have plenty of proof of what they
    consider great photos on their hall walls and in their living room
    frames, or in the homes of people they know.

    I am also curious about how these (I assume) inexperienced
    picture-takers get such good smiles and expressions on the people. Do
    they have some formula or perhaps stock jokes? Even the baby pics I
    see usually look great. (I had my own pics taken and thought they

    Sharon Everett
    Sharon Everett, Jan 16, 2004
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  2. Sharon Everett

    Charlie Self Guest

    I don't know about WalMart, but the last time I laid out a ton of bucks for
    some family portraits done by an expensive pro was the last time. I'll shoot my
    own with a remote now. The results are at least as good, and it's one helluva
    lot cheaper, more flexible (easier to fit in my family's schedule) and the
    background possibilities far more varied. I see one more crumpled piece of
    muslin background and I'll puke.

    Charlie Self
    "Take care of the luxuries and the necessities will take care of themselves."
    Dorothy Parker

    Charlie Self, Jan 16, 2004
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  3. Sharon,

    It's much like any other business - you have to have your selling points. I
    don't live in the US so I don't know what the deal is at Walmart. You have
    to push what makes you different. I'm willing to bet that they use horrid
    cloudy backgrounds so there one for a starter - a nice plan background, or
    shooting outdoors or in the customers home.

    Do they use digital in Walmart? Can the customers preview the pictures
    before they buy? Can you do quick retouches to mono, sepia, hight contrast

    Photographers need to offer what the customer want as much as any other
    business, but sometimes, the customer doesn't know they want it until you
    let them know - advertising etc.

    Alot of people ARE snobs and would rather there photos come from a pro then
    Walmart - just so they can tell there friends.
    Manfred von Richthofen, Jan 19, 2004
  4. Sharon Everett

    JC Dill Guest

    My best friend has a 3 YO daughter and she signed up for a deal at the
    local mall. She paid ~$45 for a 1 year membership, and can stop in
    anytime to have them take pictures without a sitting fee. If she
    likes the photos, then she buys prints, otherwise she doesn't.

    For her, the advantages are that her daughter has a very short
    attention span. She can just drop in when her daughter is in the
    *right mood* and then leave if it isn't working to take photos that

    OTOH, for a professional, they might go and sit for a family portrait
    and not get good pictures. What is their *time* worth for the wasted
    sitting? So I let my friend take her daughter to the mall, but I'll
    sell her some excellent portraits of her family that we took up on
    their property one Saturday morning - portraits that simply would not
    have been taken if it involved getting everyone to "the photographer's
    studio" at the same time, and in a good mood.


    JC Dill, Jan 23, 2004
  5. Sharon Everett

    Gretch Guest

    1. You can't have all the business.
    2. You don't want customers with Wal-Mart on the brain.
    3. Set your standards and go after those willing to pay for you. Period.
    Gretch, Jan 23, 2004
  6. 1. You can't have all the business.

    Randall Ainsworth, Jan 23, 2004
  7. Sharon Everett

    Larry Guest

    Wal-Mart on the brain is a dangerous disease!

    I have had prospects tell me "I can get it at Wal-Mart for a few
    dollars" whle I'm shooting at a horse show.

    Now, as far as I know, Wal-Mart doesn't do remote shoots, and they wont
    send some guy with a camera out into the boonies where I go to shoot.

    Its not like I keep my prices a secret, I have BIG signs listing the
    prices by print size, it's just that they got used to being able to
    argue the price AFTER the film was exposed with some of the
    Photographers that USED to show up at the horse shows.

    Since I went digital I can press the delete button, with the only cost
    to me being the few seconds it took to see the picture and capture it.

    I actually had one person tell me hat there was "NO WAY" any digital
    picture was worth more than $10...

    I told him that for $10 he got my attention, for a whole lot more, he
    would get a picture.

    He paid the price, got 2 8x10s and became a repeat customer (more than
    20 times last August & September)

    The moral of the story:

    Stick to your guns
    Stick to your prices
    Let 'em go to Wal-Mart if they wish!

    Larry Lynch
    Lasting Imagery
    Mystic, Ct.

    Larry, Jan 23, 2004
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