We had our first family photo today. The following is a post-mortem on that experience.

My kids are 11-months old. Imagine trying to sit down the "Tazmanian Devil" and "Animal" from the Muppets to a seven-course black-tie dinner and trying to teach them about salad forks. Add to this that the photographers were two young women with high-pitched voices saying things like "Ahm-goin-getchoo!!" over and over and over (and over) while flashing stuffed animals and toy balls in front of their faces (which naturally causes them to want to crawl towards the photographer to play with the new toys).

As a capper, add my wife insisting I sing them a song to quiet them down. There's nothing worse than being put on the spot to sing a little kid's song in front of strangers. Damn those Vocal classes I took in University! Why did I have to be blessed with perfect pitch and a great sense of rhythm?

The boys could have been a little more cooperative too: First, Jacob got freaked out by the green frog making "ribbit" sounds (I'm not being derogatory to the photographer here, it was an actual puppet) and he cried a little. Then after 20 minutes of posing with big smiles, Joshua got fussy and started throwing a tantrum (involving whipping back his head and arching his back). Of course Jacob saved all of his best smiles for afterwards when Sam and I were reviewing the proofs and he was charming the photographers. Thanks, bud.

In the aftermath, I got to thinking how bizarre formal photography is starting to feel in the Digital Age.

They took 20-25 shots, and had them digitized to a PC (I assume captured at a lower resolution than their analog camera but not certain about that). We then had to sit and pick out the few proofs we wanted out of the 20-25 shots they took. We picked out 4 proofs (one of all of us, one of just the boys, one of Joshua and one of Jacob), decided how they would be cropped and we had to pay $90 for various sizes of the photos we'll give to the grandparents, etc. This whole process is going to take 2-3 weeks.

For comparison: We have a Sony digital camera at home. We take probably 100-200 photos a month of the boys. I can take pictures when they are doing interesting/funny stuff, I don't have to pose them. I have access to all of those poses. I have Adobe Photoshop and I can edit/crop them any way I please. I can publish these photos on the web or I can bring any picture to the drug store and have them printed within a few hours. 29 cents per 4x6 photo.

I think the way it should be is: I pay up-front for the photographer's time (and skill, I'll give them that), the studio time, and any material supplies they need. BUT! I get to keep a digital copy of every single exposure they take. They've already taken the photos. They already have them all digitized and they'll just be deleted if I don't fork over the outrageous dough. It's like they are holding my kids ransom on their hard drive and I don't like it.

Or maybe next time I'll call one of the neighbors over to our house to take a photo of us as a family unit (someone has to press the button after all). I'll even buy some backdrops (black drapes?) and a couple lights and make a little makeshift studio downstairs...

On a slight tangent: The software they have to show the photos, crop them and pick them seemed to be less useful and clunkier than Photoshop (but maybe it was the person driving). It always seems weird to me to see software being used by a business that's less useful than the obsolete stuff I have sitting on my drive for general purposes.

§51 · February 23, 2005 · Kids, Life, Technology · · [Print]

Leave a Comment to “Taz, Animal, and a Couple of High-Pitched Women”

  1. Rob says:

    Ikwym. The average photo studio won’t be able to keep their margins up the way they have in the past. There’s too much technology available to Joe Lowenbrau. The shots they take will be better posed and higher resolution than you’d do at home if it’s a good studio. The skill of the department store photographer can’t compete with the home user’s volume of shots available tho.

  2. Jeff says:

    Amen! I couldn’t agree more.