After Jack and Addy were at school, Things 3 & 4 and I rushed to JC Penney for Sketch's 3 month portraits.
I'm ridiculously anal when it comes to kid photos - each of mine have had professional portraits taken at: 3 mon, 6 mon, 9 mon, 12 mon, 18 mon, 2 year, 3 year, 4 year, 5 year, K, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grades. This year, we'll add 4th grade to the list, 5th grade next year, etc. until each of the kids leaves home. Blame my mom for this OCD activity - she made sibling portraits an annual tradition when I was growing up and now I can't seem to break the habit.
Anyway . . . each time we've moved I've had to find a new portrait studio. Sometimes it's an Olan Mills, sometimes it's Sears, here in southern California it's JC Penney. Our local studio employs an all-digital format with free moving cameras so the photographer can get up-close and personal. This method provides for outstanding results. Each time I have a kid photographed I end up with unique shots that truly capture their personality. And the cost? Extremely low if you use a coupon - yes, I always use a coupon. Again, thanks mom.
So then why do I HATE going to JC Penney for my kids' portraits? Let me tell you about my Friday experience.
We arrive at 11:25 for an 11:30 appointment. The employee at the desk is talking with a customer on the phone and has 3 other customers either waiting to sign in for their appointment or waiting to pick up their portraits. Another employee is at a computer screen helping a customer review the digital images from their sitting. A third employee is with a customer, taking photos. And a fourth employee escapes to a back room for ??? Yes, this chaos comes standard with each visit. As soon as we arrive, Ellie announces that she needs to pee. Sketch needs a diaper and a wardrobe change, so we head to the restroom.
We get back to the studio and proceed to wait for 30 minutes before being called for our sitting. The photographer is ultra friendly, to the point of being unprofessional. No, using nicknames for your adult client is NOT a good idea. Sketch is cooperative and within just minutes the sitting is over. I'm confident that we got more than one fabulous photo.
After the sitting Ellie announces that she needs to pee again. And so again we are off to the restroom. Not a big deal, since the next hour or so is just to be spent waiting for an opportunity to review the sitting photos. Why such a long wait, you might ask. Aren't all these photos digital? Shouldn't they be available for immediate review? You would think so, except that a photo professional (meaning studio employee) needs to add enhancements and configure photos into cutesy arrangements for greeting cards and calendars, etc. So not necessary. I once made the mistake of telling the photo professional that I didn't want any of the amended photos and would rather look at the raw images than wait an hour for something I wouldn't buy. Ummmm . . . let's just say her response was not an example of appropriate customer service.
Finally it was my turn to review the sitting photos. While the studio has 4 computers available for reviewing photos, only one is used, since there is only one photo professional to assist clients in photo selection. I held my tongue as the photo professional scrolled through the multi-image enhancements and the greeting cards/calendars, complete with sappy text. By this time Ellie needed to pee again, so I made my selections (yes, it took me a while to create the perfect combination of sizes/images), paid (yes, it took the photo professional a while to figure out the coupon), and scheduled my pickup time (no, I won't actually be showing up at my appointed time to pick up my portraits - I'll be back whenever convenient, and convenience cannot be scheduled!)
We made one final trip to the restroom and were free! It only took 3 hours to get in and get out. Why, why, why do I do this to myself? I'll tell you why - a lack of efficient customer service is easily overlooked when an outstanding product is provided at an extremely reasonable price. And yes, I'll be back in 3 months for Sketch's next sitting.
Breakfast - peanut butter crackers
Lunch - EasyMac for Jack, can't remember for Ellie, Diet Dr. Pepper for me
Dinner - soup, I think