Bye bye Sears and Walmart photo studios
It was bound to happen, CPI has closed down Sears and Walmart portrait studios.
Why was it bound to happen? Because they weren’t making any money! I tell every photographer that I run into that we should be charging. Why? simple; it costs money to do what we do. Buying new gear costs money and for those photographers who have wives, mortgages, car payments, etc, buying a 1,200.00 lens or camera becomes expensive. With camera companies spitting out new gear every year, it’s difficult to keep up with the Jones’.
Sears and Walmart closed because they weren’t photo studios. They were mwac/gwc type establishments that preyed off those who didn’t have the money, or didn’t want to spend money getting real portraits done. When doing a family consult or even model consult, at least once a week I would hear “Walmart I can purchase an 8×10 for .99” or something to the likes. My retort was always “Do you really feel comfortable getting your photos taken at the same place you can buy toilet paper?” For the models I would ask “Do you go to your mechanic to get a yearly pap-smear? Or breast exam? If you answer yes, then Walmart would be great since you can go get photos then walk to the back and get your tires kicked…” Most would get the point, some would not and still go there only to be disappointed with what they got.
At the end of the day making money is what keeps us in business. For photographers, discussing money is a touchy subject since no one likes to talk about it, yet we work to master our craft and should be paid. CPI owed lenders $98.5 million, including $76.1 million in unpaid principal, as of March 13, according to published reports. This is in part, due to them charging .99 for a sheet of photos. Cheap isn’t always good and as CPI has shown, cheap puts you further into debt.
Are you working to avoid the CPI mistake? If you’re not charging now, do you have plans to do so in the future? How will you go from not charging to charging?
Knowledge is not free. Expertise is not free.