Portrait Innovations Sitting

Yesterday, I took the girls to Portrait Innovations. I had heard rave reviews about it, and had always wanted to check it out. I knew (just from a personal preference standpoint) that the quality of printed pictures would prevent it from replacing our days with Robin at Lifetouch, but I thought it might be nice – especially for “in between” times when I just want to take the girls for pictures, at a less noteworthy date than a milestone or something, since it’s “so cheap”.
Now…. if you’d like, I give you express permission to just skip down to the cute pictures of my girls, without reading. Ordinarily that might make me roll my eyes at those of you that “religiously read” the blog, but don’t actually read any of the words (you know who you are!), but not this time. The only words here will be a rant about review of our experience at Portrait Innovations. It might be worth your time if you’re looking for an opinion, but you might find (as do many of my friends) that PI is perfect to you. I guess it’s all a matter of personal preference. If you’re not interested in finding a photo studio, or you already love PI, then just look at the remaining pictures. I won’t be offended 🙂
Ok, so the reasons people tell me I should try PI…. and, of course, my thoughts:

“cheaper than Lifetouch” – this may be true, but not for the way I buy pictures. We have about 20 frames of varying styles and sizes in my house, that I was looking to fill (and replace Santa pictures, since our Christmas stuff has been down for days). If I spend $100 at PI, I get a crapload of pictures, yes. Of 1-5 poses. That’s great, except that I am not interested in putting the same picture next to one another 20 times 🙂 Honestly, my family knows a lot of people so we send out a lot of wallets, etc…. and I still couldn’t unload 2394082834 of the same picture to willing recipients. So in essence, there is NOT a way to get the pictures I need. Period. And if I don’t want to get packages of the same few poses, I pay $15 per sheet just to have a momento of a pose I think is cute. For someone who buys 3×5 or 4x6s of every pose she likes at Lifetouch, that would be RIDICULOUSLY cost-prohibitive. (FYI, the way “our studio” works is by ‘Collection’, not ‘Pose Package’. A Collection might cost $175, but it’s x number of sheets – whatever size, whatever pose you want. No extras that you don’t need, but still would have to pay for. And with a package purchase, additional sheets are much cheaper than $15, making it doable to take several sheets home just for the sake of saving the shot.)

“take lots of poses/shots” – maybe it was just my experience, but, um, no they don’t. They brag that they take 50+ shots in a sitting, compared to 5 elsewhere. I’m sorry, but where do you go that only takes 5 shots? Therein lies your problem, that place (that only takes 5 shots) sucks. Every studio I’ve ever been to with the girls has taken between 50 and 150. And that is DECENT shots, after deleting the crap. PI stopped at about 55 shots, 45 of which were horrid. Off-center, girls looking elsewhere (and not in a cute, artistic way, but just …. elsewhere), eyes closed, spit-up all over, etc. When all was said and done, they should have “counted” about 6 shots. The rest were utter garbage, and – to be perfectly honest – it was probably my girls most cooperative time yet. The photographer should have (and could have, given my propensity to buy and weakness for portraits) hit a gold mine!

“gets on the floor with a handheld camera instead of standing behind a mounted one” – again, where do you go that still uses only a mounted camera for children’s portraits?! And about getting on the floor…. keep reading.

“uses the most adorable backgrounds and props” – again, I will perhaps yield to an “off” day, but they used no props except ugly flowers, and used only a white background, a black background, and an incredibly cheap, tacky background.

“fun atmosphere, great service” – when I walked in the door, everyone was nice, loved on the girls, etc. In the portrait room, however, nobody would touch them, position them, etc. (“Mom, get the babies and…. blah blah blah”). Nobody tried very hard to make them laugh. The photographer himself acted like we were the biggest burden to his day. Sweet. This is quite different from the folks who understand they’re going to get drooled on by a 6 month old, don’t care to touch or pick up a baby and put them where they want them, and don’t care to establish a little rapport with their little clients by playing with them a bit.

“portraits ready the same day” – I can’t argue with this one. They printed them in about 20 mintues, but had to reprint them because they were off-center (even the ones that didn’t start out off-center). So I waited again, and got the package after about an hour total. Not bad, and obviously more quickly than 1 week. Still, and again – this is probably just my being picky – the quality is like I print on my Epson in my own house, not like a portrait studio lab. I am SUCH a big fan of instant gratification, and will usually not hesitate to pay top dollar for it… but only if the product is comparable. It probably is, for most uses, but I’ll admit my own neuroses on this one — for me (and I’m the one spending the money! ;)), I’d rather wait for “the real thing”.
So all in all, a crappy experience. I was SEETHING when I got home, that I spent almost $80 on a crapload of one mediocre pose, and 3 other sheets of prints, just because there were 3 other decent poses, and – as I mentioned – I never want to regret not getting a shot, so I usually buy just a “snapshot” sheet to have the good ones. This was literally every good picture they got, and my girls were in a fabulous mood. My frames are still empty, I have a trillion pictures of the wrong sizes, and I spent more money than I did the last time I went to Lifetouch (when I filled my frames with holiday pictures. Of a better quality.).
I must really just be missing something………..

All of that, and now you can see the other pictures my cute girls. Thank goodness this awful experience at least got me something (however overpriced) that makes me smile! 🙂


  1. I go between LifeTouch & PI. I usually take my kids to LifeTouch for Individual and PI for family/groups. I started doing that before LifeTouch went to the camera in their hands. PI just seemed to be more roomier. Never really thought about going to LT after they did, cause I was already in a routine. This last set of pics we had done, our neighbor did. I am waiting for him to finish our “school” pics.

    Anyway! Like the pics…..your girls are prescious!

  2. Thanks! I was really impressed with your Christmas picture, did your neighbor do that? I can imagine that for a large group, PI would have more space!

  3. I don’t have either company nearby, but based on what you said, it sounds like I’m better off hitting Sears when I’ve got a coupon than going to Lifetouch.

    So says the woman who will probably spend a boatload to do a family session with a REAL photographer once she’s working again.

  4. No, Lifetouch is good, so long as you are in the studio and not talking about school portraits.

    Portrait Innovations (in my opinion) is not 🙂

  5. Jennifer,

    Jeremiah is a photographer and said that if you were that unhappy with the session and then in the pictures themselves theres no way you should have paid for them. Call PI and let them know how unhappy you were and demand that the session be redone or at least discounted considering you hardly had anything to choose from. Bring them here we’ll take their pictures. 😉


  6. Jennifer, I got it backwards, meant to say PI. Melissa is absolutely right, you need to get a higher up at PI and state it like you do here. There is no reason to pay that sum of money to only have a few poses.

    BTW, when I post a comment, I get an “undeliverable” message. I think the comments might still be going to your old work email.

  7. Thanks, you’re right – I had forgotten they came to that address! The notifications come to my current home address, so I never thought otherwise.

    I might have to see where I can go, up the chain. I know the folks at the studio were not at all willing to help.

  8. PI Worker says:

    I was googling Portrait Innovations to see what people were writing about it. I work at a PI studio and have to say they really do suck. I am an independent photographer and could take better pictures than the garbage they require us to take there. They have a set way of doing things so they leave little way for creativity.

    They also treat their employees like crap. You can see how by going here… http://www.jobvent.com/companyBrowse.php?CompanyID=4786&searchType=company&searchText=portrait%20innovations

    Had I know it was like this I wouldn’t have applied. 🙁

    Get your money back and hire a private photographer!

  9. PI Worker says:

    oh btw you can email johnny gross who owns the company at jgrosso@portraitinnovations.com.

  10. PI Worker says:

    the email address should actually be johnnygrosso@portraitinnovations.com sorry