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6 Good Reasons To Skip the Picture People for Good

standard June 17, 2011 11 responses

On Friday afternoon I brushed C and Little L’s hair, made sure they were wearing cute dresses, and headed to the nearby mall for their annual-it’s-time-for-Father’s-Day photo shoot.

We had an appointment and we were a full week away from Father’s Day so I thought we were in great shape to get in and get out fast.


I arrived 15 minutes early, moments after a woman who was explaining to the cashier that she was there way early for her appointment.

1st mistake – assuming that they’d honor my appointment time

45 minutes after our appointment time we were finally ushered into a photo studio (20 minutes after the family whose appointment was after ours). By now we’d been there for a full hour and the kids were bouncing off the walls. I was beyond grumpy. At no point did anyone apologize for the wait or thank us for our patience.

2nd mistake – Letting the photographer call the shots. 

She was bossy and had us pose in various ways, barely tolerating my advice and antics to get my kids to stop making fake “cheese” smiles and in 10 minutes we were done. I hate all the shots she took of the three of us.

3rd mistake – Assuming they’d listen to reason

So there I was, tired, cranky, and really done with trying to keep my active kids contained. So…. brilliant mom that I am… I realized that I could take them home and come back the next day without them to review the photos in peace and make smart choices. I could even look at the photos online and decide from the comfort of my couch!

No. According to the Picture People employee, that couldn’t happen.

You see, there’s a new policy at the Picture People.

They delete all photos at the end of the day. If you’re a member they give you a full week. So generous.

4th mistake – Assuming that they’d be smart and modern.

Even better. They no longer give you the option to view your photos online or to buy prints at other stores.

So there I am, two hyper kids who’ve already been in the store for an hour and a half, being told we have to wait to see our photos, and that we have no option.

5th mistake – not admitting defeat.

I couldn’t exactly admit defeat, so we stayed put.

And then more frustration ensued.

They no longer let you view the pictures on your own. The staffer has to sit there with you, manning the mouse, giving you the endless sales pitch. You know, despite the kids begging to go home, scaling your body like a jungle gym, and whining louder and louder.

I wasn’t my most patient and nice.

You’d think the story ends there wouldn’t you?

It doesn’t.

We got our photos (after waiting more for them to be printed). Paid for the damn membership so I’d be able to come back and get prints for my mother-in-law and went home.

6th mistake – GOING BACK for more abuse. 

Yesterday I went back to get her prints.

You’d think that to simply get prints I would have been in and out in 10 minutes.

You’d be wrong.

It took over an hour for a staffer to be able to sit with me and look at the pictures. (You know, because God forbid I should be allowed to man a mouse by myself.) Took 20 minutes to go through the damn sales pitch again. Another 15 for them to print the photos. And yet another 10 for them to reprint the photos I had actually asked for.

When I finally left the store I could barely speak I was so mad.

Four hours to get pictures – from a place that promises photos in under an hour.
Staffers who were so frazzled from dealing with irate customers that they could no longer function correctly.
And photos that are cute… but nothing mind-blowing and that I overspent on because of the overbearing marketing tactics being used on me and the threat of imminent deletion. 
As for my increasingly irate tweets and Facebook messages? They’ve been completely ignored by the Picture People social media team.


I’ve always resisted going to a professional photographer because it always seemed easier to just hop over to the mall and be done in under an hour. After 6 years of doing this annual shoot and watching the Picture People customer service and care go slowly from mediocre to bad to worse, I’m officially done and telling everyone I can.

Skip the Picture People. Find a local photographer. Give one of your community members the business and take back the joy that should be a part of a family photo shoot. You’ll thank me in the end.

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11 responses

  • That’s a disaster. We’ve used JC Penney with some success — although I have some of the same annoyances there that you described at Picture People. Glad you all survived.

  • That sucks! I’m so sorry that you had such a horrific experience but appreciate your honesty in saving us from a similar fate! We’ve worked with local photographers for the last 2 years and I have to agree that it is great to support someone local without having to deal with a chain who could really care less. Shame on them for being not manning their SM channels more carefully where they could have done some damage control.

  • UGH. I feel frustrated just reading that! I agree with your assessment.

    I’m not big one posed photos of the kids, but after having a wonderful experience with a local photographer (also a mom) I’m sold.

    Just know that your frustration is helping everyone else. 🙂

  • And the Picture People at our mall is right in front of the giant germ of a play area and 75 cent rides, too! UGH!

    I too have been suckered into the “convenience” of heading to the mall. No more. I’d rather pay a friend to come over and take real pictures of my kids!

  • Sorry about your bad experience! I hate when companies have the upsell part of their sales policies instead of training people to actually listen to the customers needs and offering to their needs and making them a customer for life. I just don’t trust as much in companies who think “100 bucks today is better than 1000 tomorrow” – I want to be treated with respect and as someone who they want to come again and again to shop with them. This type of upselling is typical for example in the rental car business and drives me nuts!

  • I have had this situation with the picture people. I never went back. When will people get it???

  • What a nightmare! Sorry you had to endure all that. I always go with a professional photographer because I like that they will come and take pictures outside or usually have tips for some great places. I’m not to big on the chain photo places. I hope you find somebody you like and that you can have some stress free picture taking in the future.

  • I am so sorry you had such a horrible experience! I went to Picture People ONCE. I had just had Ben (my fifth baby) and the photographer was horrible! I have never gone back, but will always hire a local professional photographer… they simply can’t be beat!

  • Agreed, I’ve gone to a similar photo place and they’re not conducive to families at all really. We actually got a photographer that didn’t tell us to fix our crazy hair, put our collars down or hide our shoes, but it sounds like your experience was 10 times worse!! And I agree at #5 you have to know when to just give up and go, but I’m sure you were thinking “I’m almost there”. Lesson learned

  • Wow, I hope you’ll put this on the BBB for more people to know. I’ve gone the route of SEARS and a professional photographer that worked out of her house. Although we had a fine experience with SEARS (I’m so sorry what you went through with the Picture People), I loved the comfort, privacy, and professionalism of the photographer working out of her home. Granted we spent a couple more $100 with her, but the photos were so much better. I’ll definitely not go with Picture People now, so thanks for the heads up!! I hope years from now you’ll be able to enjoy the prints.

  • I actually worked at Picture People a couple years ago and like it. Our store was still hardcore into customer service but I know so many places just dont’ care anymore. I don’t believe that they delete pics at the end of the day, seems like a scare tactic to me! Boycott may definitely be in order

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