Glamour shots

When my kids were little and had birthdays, I used to take them to JcPenny in Roseville to have their birthday pictures taken. When Walmart opened a store in Woodbury that includes a portrait studio several years ago, I started going to Walmart to have their birthday photos taken. It is much more convenient for us locationwise. 

As you can imagine, the photos from both studios are not the best. They are just OK. Sometimes the school pictures my kids do twice a year at school look better to me.
The Walmart or JcPenny photos certainly cannot be compared to the photos done by a professional photographer. But I am too cheap to go to a professional photographer. That’s too expensive for me. Yes, I can afford it, but I won’t do it. It is an expense of want, not need.
In China, portrait studios are popular and everywhere. Many specialize in children portraits or wedding pictures, because people are willing to spend anything for their children (Remember one child policy in China!) and their wedding. They are Glamour Shots portrait studios. They provide outfits for change and do makeovers.
When I was in China this summer, I thought it would be a great opportunity to take my daughter Amy to a portrait studio to have her 10th birthday pictures taken. She never had any glamour shots in her life.
I paid attention when I was out and about. I saw studios when I was on bus or in shopping malls, but I never saw one in the neighborhood when I was out walking and shopping. So I didn’t actively pursuit it.
I took a lot of pictures of relatives and friends. My mom said I should print some out and give them to those people.
Six days before we were going to leave for the US, I was looking for a place to get some pictures printed.
Mom mentioned that there is a photo store in the neighborhood we could try. So we walked there after dinner. It was less than five minutes away. Inside the neighborhood park wall is actually a portrait studio. I walked by the park all the time, but didn’t know there is a studio inside.
It was already 8 pm. There was no customers. Only the photographer was there at the desk working on his computer. I thought here was the opportunity I was looking for. So I decided to have him take some photos of my daughter.      
I was concerned about how Amy would look like. My kids went with me to the small park to practice their ripsticks they just got the day before. Amy was wearing a top and basketball shorts. Her hair was sticky from the sweat.  
The photographer said: “No problem. We can do it.”
He called his wife in from home to do the makeover. She also picked 6 outfits for Amy to change into. 
Within two and half hours, everything was done. Amy had a total makeover. She had light makeup, changed 6 times, and had almost 50 photos taken. Everyone of them was good to keep. None of them needed to be deleted.
We were happy with the qualities of the photos.
No wonder when I was in China in 2005 and showed my classmates some of my kids’ photos taken at JcPenny, the comment I got was: “Were they done at a portrait studio?Looks like I can take those photos myself.”
How much did we pay? It was 680 RMB ($100).
Yes! It’s more than 1/3 of my Dad’s monthly income. 
No! For me, it’s worth it. For $100 in the US, I can’t get anything close to what I get.
What did I get?
All the 50 photos on a CD that I can print however I want. There is no copyright protection. I got a big photo album and a mini photo album.
The photos, selected and specially designed with additional background by the photographer using special software, were made into a big photo book. They look nicer than a nice picture book. I also got two photos in frame, using the two best photos we selected.
Once the photographer was done with the design,  he had to sent the order (rush order in our case) to a company to produce the photo albums and the framed photos.
I got the photo albums and the CD the day before my departure, but it takes longer to make the framed photos. So I asked my mom to pick them up when they were done.
A week later, when my mom went to pick up my daughter’s two framed photos, she didn’t recognize her granddaughter. She said it was not her. I can understand that. With makeup, different outfits and special effects, Amy looks like a totally different person, more like an adult.
I was very happy with the results.
Next time when I go back to China, I will try it myself. I have never done glamour shots. I am going to have some fun too.