Monday 27 February 2012

Pet Photoshoots

Full disclosure: In return for agreeing to review the experience on this blog, I received a free pet photo shoot. The reviews were run by FuelMyBlog.

There comes a time in every proud parent's life (and they don't have to be human babies) when it's time to record one's pride and joy for posterity. When the opportunity for a free pet photo shoot came up on FuelMyBlog I volunteered - it would be nice to have a photo of Jabba done professionally, and I was interested to see how he could be posed in case I wanted to try out a few tricks with my DSLR.

The company is Wish. They are part of a blossoming "experience" industry, and one of the things they offer is a pet photo shoot. At the time of writing its cost has been marked down to £15, usually £50. This includes a 7x5 photograph.

Upon receiving the voucher, I had to phone to activate it and make the booking. However, the main problem with this was that the phone number was only active between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday. I usually work 8am to 7pm minimum, so it was always going to be nigh on impossible to phone them. In fact it was the Christmas holiday (having received the voucher in early November) before I was actually free to phone. And the most annoying thing was that there was no information they asked for that could not have been given online. I could have done this over the internet and been sent the details of the studio that way.

So it was the new year before the studio got in touch with me to arrange Jabba's close-up. The studio in question was The Click Studios in Richmond. Again, the same problem presented itself that I had to call during normal office hours on a Monday to Friday. But somehow they managed to get hold of me at ASE (!) and then after I had finished teaching one afternoon. Jabba's portrait was duly arranged for 4th February.

Despite me giving them my name on a number of occasions, they insisted on calling me Juliet. Eventually I stopped trying to correct them and answered to Juliet each time. When we arrived for the shoot, the studio was crowded - there were at least three full families in there, waiting either for viewing or for their own photo shoot, and so we stood. We at least didn't have to wait very long. Our photographer was absolutely wonderful. She was not a fan of reptiles, but despite her nervousness around him she was professional, talented, and talked to him in a soft soothing voice. The whole shoot took about 10 minutes, and then we were invited in for viewing.

I'm always a little nervous about viewings, having had a bad experience with an unrelated agency a few years ago. I expected to be given the hard sell and sent on a guilt trip. We had none of that - the man showing us the photos accepted that we were just looking for one good photo for the 7x5 image, and he helped us narrow it down to one good one.

Nearly two weeks later I missed a call from them to say the photo was in, we could collect it, but that we should phone them before we come in. I phoned back on the Saturday, but they didn't answer. They also didn't return my voicemail. So last Saturday I phoned in my Teacher Voice. They called back within half an hour and we collected Jabba's picture.

It's a gorgeous photo. The photographer did an excellent job and she is to be commended. However, the experience was less than stellar. Simply the inaccessibility of the companies outside normal office hours (even banks do a Saturday morning) has been enough to deter me from using their services again, coupled with messages from FuelMyBlog pushing me to update them. The cost, were it £50, was a little steep for the 10-minute photo shoot and the photo.

And they have yet to refund my £20 deposit! So I may be writing a complaint letter...

I may use the studio again if I was looking to book a family or couples portrait, but even so, some of the prices look steep. For example, though it was six years ago, I paid £850 for our wedding photographer, including 300 photos and an album. I understand that studios have premises to maintain and so on, but it seems like an awfully big mark-up.

Detail of Jabba's portrait, scanned in badly and used for evaluation purposes.

Picture's amazing though.

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