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A quick thought or two on Portrait Innovations closing

Yeah, so this happened. Our portrait studio (Prelude Photography) is in Great Lakes Mall in Mentor and we opened twelve years ago. I remember not long after that when Portrait Innovations opened a new store 20 minutes away in Mayfield. That really concerned me since they were a national chain with cheap prices and a deep marketing budget. We had session fees and our cheapest package was $29 where they had no session fees and their cheapest package was $9.99 when they opened. But their average was probably $125-$150 which is close to ours, so we pretty much shared the same demographic. I don't know why they closed, but I can make a few guesses:

1) the stories came every year of them being 1-2 hours behind on their shoots. Awesome that they were that busy, but if you are pissing off your clients while you are that busy . . . I think that comes back around.

2) It's incredibly hard to transition styles across a chain of stores and employees. New trends like filters, more photoshop work, offsite work, etc. really didn't seem to be a possibility.

3) Let's face it, this is probably the main reason they closed: portraits are fading. Everyone has a phone. Everyone has literally thousands of images of their loved ones. And I just don't believe people are hanging pictures on their walls as much any more. Prelude Photography, my store, has seen their in-studio portrait business drop 40-50% over the last six years. It's been a blow and really makes us refocus and reinvent where we can. Pictures with live bunnies, fairy portraits, superhero sessions all have helped ease that blow, but at the end of the day the industry is shifting and shifting quickly. Luckily we still have schools and weddings and video and photobooths to keep our doors open.

So we will move forward. I think I understand why they closed. And though it may open up more opportunities for us as a studio, I still feel for all who lost their jobs and for those families that lost the photos they had done. -M

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