I am going to graduate from university this year, so I had to get graduation photos taken if I want to have a composite on the walls of UBC. I am in biology and all of the biology students at UBC have to get their graduation pictures taken by a specific studio (Evangelos Photography Ltd).
This is just my personal opinion, but I absolutely despise the photography studios here in Vancouver. I have only experienced two (Artona Group Inc. for my high school graduation and Evangelos Photography Ltd. for university), and none of them left a good impression on me.
Artona is a very pretty studio, with a nice waiting area filled with sofas, and comfortable change rooms. The rooms where the actual photos are taken are also quite nice, but this studio is bad in terms of customer service and their pricing. The employees at Artona are not very helpful, and you can expect to be in and out of the studio in less than half an hour. My friend was very excited to get her university graduation pictures taken at Artona, but left the studio feeling extremely disappointed. She went on a weekday, and the studio wasn’t very busy; just a couple of other people there getting their pictures taken. However, she felt very rushed as the photographers moved her from room to room, and after taking three composite pictures for her, they asked her to pick one that will go on the wall. She did not like any of them, and when she told the photographer that, he asked her why she didn’t like any of them and forced her to pick one. Also, when she was ordering her photo package, they charged a delivery fee of $12 (if I remember correctly). This is an outrageous price just for them to deliver the photos to you, so she phoned and asked if that fee can be waived if she picked her order up in person. The answer was no. I find that to be ridiculous.
Evangelos Photography on the other hand is not so nice in the looks department, and does not have a nice waiting area like Artona (In fact, there is no waiting area at all). It’s a small studio with only a few rooms and a couple of tiny change rooms. Well, that’s alright, looks shouldn’t matter if everything else is okay. The service there was great but in my honest opinion this studio is very sneaky with their pricing too. Upon arrival, we were greeted by the owner and a $45 deposit was requested. This deposit is refundable but if you don’t ask for a refund or order photos within 60 days, you don’t get your money back even if you order photos after the 60 day period. That’s my first reason for disliking this studio. Why are they taking the $45 deposit in the first place? I am sure UBC paid them generously (out of our tuition money) for the composite photos to be taken, so it makes no sense for them to ask for a $45 deposit and then refund it (Oh, and don’t forget, they charge you $1.75 if you pay that deposit with your debit card!). The service at this studio was good though; I did not feel rushed as we moved from room to room and they took five photos at different angles for us to pick from. In total, I spent almost an hour at Evangelos compared to the half an hour you get at Artona. When it came time to order photos, I noticed that they charged a $7 service charge to each and every order you make. I ordered two separate orders on the same account and I was charged $7 twice (they don’t give you the option of combining two orders into one). I think service charges should just be included in the price of the photos or packages, since those are already so overpriced in the first place, but to charge me twice is just sneaky and unnecessary.
I understand that these photo studios are businesses and that they need to make money too, but I am pretty sure that the schools have already paid an enormous sum for our pictures to be taken. Also, they technically have a monopoly since we are required to go to their studios without the option of picking any other ones. Do they really need to go to the extent of getting more money from us? They know that we have no choice but to order pictures from them, since we can’t get these pictures anywhere else, and yet they still ding us with a bunch of fees and charge us sky-high prices for photos.
In the future I am going to open my own photo studio and hire Kabocha as my photographer. Taking graduation photos shouldn’t feel like this. You shouldn’t feel rushed and you shouldn’t feel scammed. Yet that was exactly how I felt (and I’m sure there are many others who felt the same way)! This is just my honest opinion.