reviews: sears portrait studio

Why Sears portrait studio @ Gurnee Mills is totally lame…

We had been taking Kaylee to JC Penny portrait studio since she was 3 months old. To be honest, I had grown bored with their backdrops and our last experience there (a different studio than our usual) was not that great.

For Kaylee’s Christmas pictures this year I decided to change it up and book a session through Sears Portrait Studio. Setting up the appointment online was easy, and I was even able to book it for the next day. However, things fell apart quickly once we actually arrived at our session. There were two other familys there when we arrived, one getting their pictures taken and the other looking at pictures from their session. No one in line. We stood around (chased Kaylee around the store) for 15 minutes before someone came out and gave us a form to fill out – no greeting, straight to business. It took another 15 minutes before they were ready to move us to a room. We changed Kaylee into her outfit while the photographer prepped the room. Kaylee did pretty well, but didn’t really want to sit or stay in any poses for long. The photographer did manage to get her to smile but otherwise didn’t really seem ‘professional’. She changed backdrops a few times and added a box pop for seated shots, but nothing was offered that I had seen in their advertisements.

The photographer actually asked us to pose Kaylee on her belly for one of the shots…seriously? This kid is 15 months old – she doesn’t hold still for more than a few moments at a time and she really doesn’t take kindly to being ‘positioned’ either (unless dangling it’s upside down), let alone on her belly. What 15  month old does?

After the session was done we were asked to leave the room and met another staff member at the counter. She said it would take 20  minutes to process the pictures. 20 minutes…to process digital pictures? OK.

So we changed Kaylee back into her play clothes and wandered around the store. We ended up in the toy section where Kaylee found the ball bin and had fun taking all the balls out so Daddy could put them back in. Eventualy we made our way back to the studio and were

We liked 4 of the 16 pictures she took, not a very good ratio.   It took another 15-20 minutes to check-out. And we were told the prints wouldn’t arrive back in the store until December 9th, 2 weeks later.

I gave them a coupon which was not reflected on the receipt. I should have received a CD and a few sheets of discounted portraits from our favorite picture. Instead every sheet was 20 percent off with no sitting fee but I also did not get a CD. So I ended up paying more money for less product than at JC Penny. The pictures were posted to their website by the time we got back home, but they have a Sears logo all over them. I cleaned up the one shown above but didn’t bother with the rest – I’ll just scan them whenthey arrive to share online with friends and family. Completely irritating and unnecessary considering it’s  not like you can create a print from the tiny pictures they post online anyway so they aren’t going to lose any money.

They could easily improve their quality of service by reducing wait time; this would include more staff with specific roles instead of employees who are expected to take pictures and handle retail sales. They definitely need to reduce the wait time after the session too – 20 minutes is ridiculous, particularly when  you have a baby or toddler in tow. And, remove the pointless water marks from their online photo albums.

Ultimately, it was a waste of time and money. I plan on going back to JC Penny instead next time instead.

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