We haven't been punctual nor have we been excessive concerning professional portraits for Aveline. We did take her to Wal-Mart when she was 3 months old and vowed never to take her there again. I think the actual shoot was okay, I just didn't like the high pressure sales tactics that followed. But, I guess that is how they earn their money. But I digress. When she turned one, we decided to try the professional portrait route one more time. I asked around to my other mommy friends and found a new studio to try: Portrait Innovations. Everyone who mentioned them had nothing but glowing reviews. We went for our appointment today.
Our appointment was at 2:00 pm. We were checked in immediately and asked to have a seat. The receptionist showed me to a play area littered with scattered couches and chairs. I chose a couch close to a Lego play table, with the grand idea that I could rest while Aveline played with the Legos. She played with them for about three minutes before deciding that a hearty game of chase would be more her style. I wound up trailing her through the studio for the next twenty minutes, scooping her out of danger or other people's photo sessions. I was exhausted before our session even began. Our photographer apologized for the unnecessary delay and ushered us to the second studio. Each studio was open to the waiting area, so I had seen a few shoots while scurrying after Aveline.
Peter, our photographer, knelt down to Aveline's level and introduced himself to us. We talked about outfit changes and I showed him what I had brought. I left most of the creative decision making to him, figuring he was the professional. He spent a few minutes joking with her and she squealed with delight. I think my daughter had a slight crush on him. I have rarely seen her light up and squeal so much as she did during the next 40 minutes. After our chat he whirled away to grab props and his camera. He used a hand-held slr digital camera. I was a bit skeptical at first, but it enabled him to roll around on the ground and capture some nice moments. He often shot with one hand, using the other to puppet a small stuffed kitten to my daughter's delight. It was baby bliss. She giggled, squealed and cooed like a professional. She was a ham.
We changed outfits a few times and even changed studios to get certain backgrounds. By 3 pm I was spent. I can't imagine how he works a full day using the amount of energy he did. I got tired watching him! After the capturing portion was finished, Peter led us to one of three computer stations that flanked the waiting area. Four chairs faced the crown of the station: a huge flat screen monitor attatched to the wall. Peter loaded our shoot into the computer and a slideshow of our pictures entertained us while they uploaded. At this point, Aveline's demeanor had begun to sour. I gave her milk to her, which she chugged in three gulps and tossed the sippy cup aside. This was the time when I needed her to be calm and still, when I had a financial decision to make. Peter was very patient with us. Aveline exploded. I fruitlessly fed her interesting item after item, hoping to reap a bit of attention. She wanted to run. I gave up most of my creative control to Peter, allowing him to pick which shots he thought were the best while I wrestled my squirming tot. We whittled the package down to a still gluttonous eight shots before I agreed, but at that point, my nerves and patience were so shot that he could have asked me to do anything and I would have answered "yes." I think it was part of their plan.
I paid for the portraits and asked when they would be ready. He replied twenty minutes, which shocked me! He offered to allow us to sit in the waiting area, but I declined, opting for an air conditioned van with a strapped-in, immobile baby. I drove around the lot a few times and she fell asleep. I picked up our photos, which included a cd with ALL of the pictures from that session (score!) and headed home.
Overall, it was a good experience, much better than our last one. I definitely would recommend it to other mothers interested in getting very real, creative photos. The fact that I took the pictures with me when I was finished was amazing. I think that my experience choosing the package could have gone better, but that was mostly due to a cranky baby. I also was a little disappointed by the wait I endured initially, but can understand that things happen. The waiting room was definitely set up to keep families entertained during an inevitable wait. I learned a few lessons I will keep in mind if we decide to get The Deuce's pictures taken there. The biggest lesson being another hand to help wrangle and decide. Dan will love to come with me next time!
I have posted just a few of the many shots taken today. Let us know what you think!