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07-03-2008, 05:39 AM   #16
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QuoteOriginally posted by joefru Quote
Okay, so it's not necessarily a teenager; neither are all the cashiers. My main point was that everything was fixed. Fixed lighting, fixed camera position and settings, fixed backgrounds (yes, they can swap them out but their position is fixed).... The only thing left to think about is when to press the button. Go ask the employee what s/he thinks the ambient EV level in the studio is and see what kind of answer you get.
I agree entirely - I really do agree with you - and my point is that this isn't art, it is one business model used to sell portraits to a segment of the market for buyers.

07-03-2008, 07:23 AM   #17
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I am not a big favorite of Walmart by any means but I am in favor of free markets and free marketing.

The "cheap" photo set up that Walmart has suits a particular market: quick fast photos for passports or employee web sites, quick "fun" pictures of our little ones to send to that Aunt or Uncle down under who will through the picture away in 2 years.

Seriously Walmart saw a business strategy and exploited it the way a free market should be run. They set up a new business management system that focussed on reducing costs all the way down the supply chain using the most current IT systems. They also set it up to exploit their workers and basically did the same with their suppliers, which is the despicable part of their business.
07-03-2008, 08:41 AM   #18
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Can we at least keep the "commentary" out of the photography forum and instead put it in the Water Cooler (or whatever the OT forum is called)? Listening to a bunch of photographers from around the world (and I throw myself into that category) discuss politics is just about as enlightening as listening to a bunch of Hollywood actors discuss politics. Yes, we all have opinions. I just come here to hear opinions/discussion on photography. We argue enough about that. We don't need to throw politics or religion into the mix.

Now, to keep my comment at least slightly on topic, I'll just say that the amount of equipment that you have or Walmart/Sears/Penny's has doesn't make or break the portrait. It's the photographer. If you have the passion to create a nice portrait, you will. The megastores set up a formula (camera here, backdrop there, people there, click, take money) to overcome the lack of passion from the employee pushing the button.
07-03-2008, 09:34 AM   #19
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High school proms and the Govt racket...

I am an event manager. During the spring we have our High school prom season. About 10 weekends in a row with Proms. The photo station set ups at those events sound like the ones you are describing. They will run 200-500 kids thru 2 to 3 stations in 3 or 4 hours. And unlike walmart they are charging 75-150+ dollars for the different packages.

I guess the prices are all relative, if you are spending 100 on a hairdo and 500 on a dress, the photo memory seems cheap? (Those are low ball numbers now days)

But I think quality is also relative to what most familys are use to. If the majority of pictures of your family are done by P&S's with the blazing flashes and monster shadows. Then the single umbrella shots at walmart look pretty darn good.

As to the Walmart owning us issue... We are owned by the countries that are loaning this govt the money to cover the unimaginable national debt! They float this economy so that we continue to buy the cheap crap they produce and sell at walmart and most other retailers. And others loan us the money so we can continue to buy the products made from the oil produced in their countries.
So when you are spending your "$600 Stimulus checks" to shop and fill up your tank... remember where that money came from. It should only cost us as taxpayers about $2000 to pay off the $600 they gave us as consumers... Thanks congress.
What a racket!

07-03-2008, 04:44 PM   #20
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Well, when you have five or more things trying to mess up your country you have to deal with the worst ones first. While Walmart is a horrible company, they are the least of the problems the USA has. Our biggest one is our President a man that the majority of this country voted in to office at least the second time around (I don't want to think about the first time around). Then we have China and their poisinous products. Our government and their ability to not keep tainted food out of stores and resteraunts let alone actually figure out what foods are the problems (I am talking about the current tomato issue) and then we have the war in Iraq that is sucking up so my money that we have bridges collapsing and we have roads with holes large enough to swallow entire families. We have gas price issues and on and on and on. And while Walmart and their business practices are on our list, they are near the bottom.

As for the orginal post most people don't know any better. When it comes to photos of important things like family photos, school photos, wedding photos price is now more important than having high quality final images. As long as you don't look like Shrek or Donkey most people are happy. Money is tight you have to choose what's important. Medicine, food, gas are all more important and an so-so family shot or whatever for a good price that you can afford without having to do without a couple of meals is better than nothing.

Robert
07-03-2008, 07:22 PM   #21
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(sigh.....)
07-03-2008, 11:28 PM   #22
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what would alfred say?

QuoteOriginally posted by rfortson Quote
(sigh.....)
Russ... you have Alfred E. as your photo tag.... One of the great political minds of our time. I thought you would have more patience for our blathering.

Some Alfred E Neuman quotes....

"Thank's to the new welfare bill, the question "Paper or plastic?" now refers to many American's sleeping arrangements!"

"How come we choose from just two people for President, and fifty for Miss America?"

"The U.N. is a place where governments opposed to free speech demand to be heard!"

"Getting old is when a narrow waist and a broad mind change places!"

"Today, it takes more brains and effort to make out the income-tax form than it does to make the income."


Peace and Love.....
07-04-2008, 10:40 AM   #23
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It always amazes me that so many people want to blame Walmart for all that is wrong in the world. If you don't like the place, don't shop there. For as long as I can remember, dept. stores have had photo studios. Sears, K Mart, Jamesway, Woolworths....I could go on and on. Dept. store chains come and go. Probably in 20 years Walmarts will be empty real estate and another big chain will be the evil empire. We have had some family pictures taken through the years at dept. stores (Sears I think) and the pictures were ok. The price was cheap enough that I almost couldn't have done it myself.

07-05-2008, 08:11 AM   #24
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reeftool, no body is blaming walmart for all that is wrong in the world. We do blame them for their poor treatment of their employees. For bring in cheap chinese crap causing not only US businesses to either scale back which costs jobs or to go out of business. Walmarts bottom line is to pay as little for stuff as possible, sell it for as much as possible so that they can make as much as possible. They could care less about what they do to anyone else, they only care about themselves and that is it. That is what people blame walmart for.

Robert
07-05-2008, 08:25 AM   #25
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walmart's policy is to shut down a store rather than have it unionized so if you want to get the walmart in your area to disappear your best bet is to get a group together and fight to get the UFCW in there.
07-05-2008, 12:27 PM   #26
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QuoteOriginally posted by Robert Barnett Quote
reeftool, no body is blaming walmart for all that is wrong in the world. We do blame them for their poor treatment of their employees. For bring in cheap chinese crap causing not only US businesses to either scale back which costs jobs or to go out of business. Walmarts bottom line is to pay as little for stuff as possible, sell it for as much as possible so that they can make as much as possible. They could care less about what they do to anyone else, they only care about themselves and that is it. That is what people blame walmart for.

Robert
Robert: Can you quantify your assertions - preferably with real, repeatable and publicly accessible studies by independent, reputable scholars?
  • Exactly how do they treat their employees poorly? - 382,000 people seem perfectly willing to work there
  • Precisely which merchandise is cheap, Chinese crap? Whenever I go there I seem to find plenty of US-branded merchandise.
  • It seems to me Walmart's business plan is to sell for the LOWEST price possible, not the highest - please document your source for their business plan, pricing policy and profit margin.
  • Precisely how do you purport to KNOW what Walmart cares about? - Please document your sources.
Now I don't want you to think I take one side or the other - I just appreciate when assertions are supported by facts, not just innuendo.
07-05-2008, 12:42 PM   #27
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QuoteOriginally posted by Robert Barnett Quote
Walmarts bottom line is to pay as little for stuff as possible, sell it for as much as possible so that they can make as much as possible.
I hate to say it but thats called capitalism, and is the backbone of the USA.

Pat
07-05-2008, 02:17 PM   #28
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I'm not sure if Walmart treats its employees any worse or pays worse than any other retail chain. They buy in large quantitys and sell the stuff for the lowest price possible to make enough profit. They hire mostly part time help for as cheap as they can. On the half a mile long strip of rt 50 in the Saratoga area there dozens of stores, Walmart, Sears, Lowes, Best Buy, Target, a mall and 2 other shopping centers and supermarkets. All of them have help wanted signs as you enter. The folks at Walmart aren't running across the street so they can't be treated that bad. As I said, if you don't like the store don't shop there. If you don't like your job, quit. As for selling cheap crap, they sell the same stuff everybody else sells.
07-05-2008, 03:33 PM   #29
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QuoteOriginally posted by marcdsgn Quote
Foots, here's a cheap handy hint you might like.

DIFFUSER: At the moment I'm taking shots of products for our company's catalogue. There are no flash-diffusers available to soften the shadows, so I hunted around and found a couple of white plastic shopping bags in the bin, hung them over the remote flash, manually adjusted aperture to compensate for the dulled light and have some beautiful soft-highlight/soft-shadow shots as a result.
That's a handy tip... I had a mentor that always recommended collecting the free shower caps that you could get from a stay at a hotel or motel, for that very same purpose.
07-05-2008, 05:10 PM   #30
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It's always interested me that those who try to demonize business for trying to get as much money for their products as possible are the same people who have no problem asking an immense about of money for their house or car when the time comes to sell it. They are the same who will complain that a new photographer is trying to turn a meager profit with his/her hobby is "cutting in" on their turf by selling their services too cheap or for free to make a name for themselves. You can't have it both ways. Either profit is good for everyone or good for no-one.

I know many employees who are not happy with Walmart, some rightly so for their individual circumstances. I know many of them who were not happy at their last job either so it's not limited to "Walmart". I also know some who are making more money at Walmart than they were at the small shop they left in the same town. It's all relative. Walmart employs thousands of people, many for whom the alternative is no job at all. Some are making more money than before, some less. Some are leaving a job they hated and were abused at to work at Walmart. Some feel abused at Walmart. Again, it's all relative. And as has been pointed out, we don't have to shop there.

When a Walmart moves into your neighborhood, it changes the economic heirarchy of the community. Nobody questions that. When I was growing up, my parents lost two businesses and I've eaten my share of oatmeal for supper so I do know what it's like to be on the loosing end of capitalism. But even then, I felt blessed. My parents always instilled hope even when the chips were down. I learned that the secret to business is adapting to the inevitable change. Those who cannot adapt cannot survive, Walmart or not. I know of many folks who have adapted to a Walmart in their community and actually are doing better because of it. The challenge of competing has honed their business skills and made them even more successful.

And about those profits. I can still hear the grumpy and unhappy salesperson behind the counter at the mom and pop photo store tell me their grossly inflated price for the K10D I was looking at. Even I knew it was a rip-off price. I expect to pay more at a smaller store, and I always try to shop local if I can and expect to pay a little more in the process. But the price I was being quoted was sheer highway robbery!

"We have to make a profit", he said. Hmmm, I guess this profit thing isn't just for big business.
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