When it comes to making purchasing decisions you have a choice between the Big Box stores ran by giant corporations or small businesses like Mom & Pop shops. That decision can make a difference. Over the past couple of decades Big Box stores have spread across America. At first this caused small businesses to flounder but eventually they adapted and have learned what it takes to run a business in today’s market. Consumer thinking has also changed which has benefited the smaller businesses. Consumers (mom and pops are cool again) have come to recognize the value of knowing the person you are buying from. They want to build relationships with the people in their community and they want the money they are spending to matter.
For photography businesses this change in consumer thinking has allowed for the small business owners to flourish and the Big Box stores to fade away. Wal-Mart, and K-Mart have gotten out of the photography studio business and more recently Portrait Innovation closed all of their retail locations across the US overnight with no notice to employees or customers (they had three locations in the Kansas City area at one time, a photo studio in Leawood/Overland Park area in the same shopping center at The Cheesecake Factory, a photo studio in the North Land off Barry Road, and a photo studio in Lee's Summit at Summit Woods). Leaving employees with no more pay checks to look forward to (right after the holidays) and customers with pictures stuck inside locked doors. They were a HUGE volume photography business with in house printers, with locations all across the US. Retail centers ran like factories with families running through their assembly line; smile, flash and here is what you owe. I am familiar with the process because I worked for them in their early years.
I started as a photographer with them but moved up to management quickly (too quickly). I struggled, though, to work in their environment that had no flexibility in their schedule for anyone who put a wrench in the works such as a two year old having a meltdown, a mom needing to nurse her sweet baby, families running late (we have all been there) or a shy child distracted by the hub bub of the waiting area in full view from the portrait room. After being so stressed out trying to keep the higher ups happy while still giving customers the service they needed and deserved, I decided to get off the assembly line. (The stress of managing employees who didn't always care, unhappy customers and keeping a sales average that would keep the CEO happy literally ended up with me having hives come and go for 6 months - even after I left)
I took a three year hiatus from photography to work in an office but that wasn’t the solution either. I LOVE photography and wanted to find a way to do it the way I wanted to; give great customer service, build relationships with my clients but most of all have the time it takes to get those fantastic shots that makes people shine. It means the world to me to give clients the time they need. I love watching a one year old grab fistfuls of frosting, taking time with a newly liberated 2 year old to get that perfect shot for their mom to look back on in even through their toughest stage and watching parents connect with their new addition.
For as much as I love my photography business there is still the stress of running it. After all, it’s expensive to be in business; income taxes, advertising costs and website hosting are just the beginning. There is the constant need to stay on top with new equipment, updated editing programs and classes on learning the latest processes.
That’s why I love my clients so much. I appreciate the fact they have a choice and have decided to support a small business owner. Because when you support a small business, you are paying to put food on their table, making it possible for their son to play soccer and allowing their daughter to go to theater camp. But you are also getting something for your money that you don’t get from the Big Box stores; someone who will build a personal relationship with you, who makes sure you feel good in your family portraits and memories that last a lifetime. I am someone who truly enjoys what she is doing. I would love to work with you too, contact me HERE so we can get started.
While I am thankful for the short time I was at Portrait Innovations because I did learn how to work quickly before little ones wear out. (Even though in the end it just wasn't the best fit for me.) Below are a few pictures we took at Portrait Innovations for my mom's birthday while I worked there and then a few when I took my kids there so one of my best friends could take some photos of them. It is so important to get the family together for special occasions and even just every day occasions. I challenge you to take the time today to schedule spring or summer family photos with your favorite photographer. There are so many great photographers to choose from in the Kansas City area, just google photographers near me and see what pops up!