Photography Session Gimmicks

I've recently been in the market for a family photography sessions and as such I've had the usual sponsored Facebook ads come up. One was a competition to win a $250 gift card with a local photography place. It's been a week or two since I entered and just got the news that I've "won" one of the gift cards.

My gut feel is that this 'win' is a gimmick to get you in and then they sell you overpriced photo products. This is strongly indicated by the statement on their website that "most people spend between $1000 - $3000 on their portraits". They do not provide a price list online.

Their process is: planning meeting (where you are provided with the price list), photo session, followed by the ordering session.

I'm just wondering if anyone has had experience with photography studios that operate like this? Has anyone had a similar gimmick and gone through with it? - if so was it worth it or did you end up spending heaps over the gift card amount?


  • +13

    Stopped reading at "sponsored Facebook ads". It's 2021, why do you still have these, let alone pay attention to them?

    • +1

      sucker FOMO…

    • +3

      Stop using Fakebook
      /end thread 🀣😷

  • +4

    Yup congrats you won a session… That won't include any prints, or maybe 1 if you're lucky

    Viva photography used to be shocking with these. Everyone 'won'

    • "You've won a free prize with publishers clearing house."
      "Open the envelope to claim your prize"

    • or maybe 1 if you're lucky

      Key ring size only

  • +3

    Run away!

  • Yep. Won a free family portrait at Mcdonalds in the 90's. They sit you down at the end and give you the upsell. The free one was less than a standard photo size.

  • I 'won' one at the royal show and the credit ($300) was enough for one print. We didn't end up going (struggling with three kids for a whole session then suffer through an upsell - no thanks!).

    They were very pushy about booking me in even when I said I prefer digital copies.

  • +4

    Which photography place are you talking about ???

    "most people spend between $1000 - $3000 on their portraits"

    No… no they dont….

  • +3

    Yeah, it’s scam. There are legit photographers that will charge much less and get great shots.

    Alternatively ask amongst your friends and family.

  • +1

    We were given a $600 voucher (from the wedding reception who were promoting them) for one of those photo studios and their breakdown was a rip off. The breakdown was $600 included makeup, hair styling and a 30 minute session with their photographers. The kicker was that they charged $250 per photo for the ones you wanted to keep, didn't allow backup photos to be stored onto a USB and if the session went over you'd be paying extra. We came to the conclusion that it wasn't worth it (even lost our $50 deposit) and it was a complete rip.

    • Most photographers hold the rights to the photos, and don't give you 'backups', only prints.

      • +1

        You mean rights to hit the shutter. It is like signing up to be in a spy cam and giving away the rights to your image to be used for whatever purpose they see fit.

        Actually isn't that the Facebook business model? Everything you upload including your photos become their property to use as they see fit.

      • Discuss with them beforehand if you want the data. I've done it for a wedding and family shots numerous times with various photographers - some may not be interested but just try the next. My experience is they will charge more but it's then all yours.

        • Correct, you need to have this discussion BEFORE the shoot etc and yes they will most likely charge you more to own the 'rights' to your own photos etc.

          • @JimmyF: Yep, and it won't just be a small charge, not from a photo studio that sells the prints.

            • @spackbace: You might be shocked. For a wedding package that was a few grand the photographer charged 20% more and even included a small print of each photo - no albums, larger prints, etc.

  • Dear Mr K. Dilkington,

    You are one of our most valuable customers.

  • +2

    Call them and ask for print prices before you go. If they are high then just cancel and save yourself the stress.

  • -3

    You have a camera on your phone.

  • +1

    haha you "won" - just like everyone else who entered the competition! πŸ˜‚

  • when starshots was still around they had a competition box setup at our local plaza. We had 'won' a free shoot, which involved a photo session and a 16x20 image.

  • +2

    We "won" a "free" baby shoot that we didn't even enter. We went anyway, they did the full upsell (very pushy), in the hundreds to thousands like you say.

    I feel like the way they get you in with the "winning" is dishonest, but they are legitimate businesses with proper studios, equipment etc, so if you do like the photos they take, you may as well buy them, but they are very expensive (most photoshoots would be I assume given how much overhead would be involved in that kind of business).

    My wife felt bad (despite my protests), so we paid $300 odd for one print? We complained and wrote a negative review…they ended up giving us all the digitals in exchange for taking down the negative review, so it was semi worth it in the end.


    We know of a few FB friends also "won" after us, I don't know if they target people with newborns or just spam everyone…

    Your one sounds similar to the ones you get "free" with a new car? You get one print free, but they charge hundreds to thousands for the digitals intentionally. Do they still do those?

    • Glad that worked out well for you! I do think they're a legitimate business just over priced.

  • I win twice 2 gift card od $750 each from 2 really well know photography studio in sydney. It's just covered the time for taking picture ( 30 min) and one small picture frame 6Γ—8 . If i want to order the picture taken : 5 digital picture for $950 and the whole lot (20 pictures) for $3000 and if i want to get a print the price was just ridiculous.

    My advice: shop around. Go for small studio and don't bother with free gift card as the price is always bigger than it. There are some really good small photography studio on facebook marketplace that will charge you only $250 for 5 pictures!

    • +3

      Thanks, I'm actually booked with a photographer who does a flat price for the shoot and you get all the digital files included so I'm happy. I just got curious about how these pay per print places work. A rip off so it seems.

  • OP, I'd say you're only interested because it's a topic/item you want to be true.

    If you won (say) a 'car', would you still in any way think it's legitimate? Facebook/google probably know that you're interested in photoshoots based on your search history.

    • +1

      Oh please, my first reaction to it was to laugh. I'd actually already booked in with a photographer of my choice between entering and "winning" anyway. I'm interested to know peoples experiences with this type of thing. I think people on here are overly cynical, it is a legit photo studio just overpriced and gimmicky.

      • Seems you answered your own question then.

  • +1

    "Does she like 'photography'"
    "Know what I mean?"
    "Snap Snap, grin grin, wink wink, nudge nudge.."
    "Say no more!"

  • +1

    My brother in law won a videographer for his wedding on a facebook competition.

    I told them it was a scam and not to touch it but they had them at the wedding (despite my warnings).

    They were amazing! The video turned out incredibly. I was shocked, I ate my words.

  • Reader's Digest said there will be money in my Bank at Mitcham which is pretty interesting given there are no Banks at Mitcham.

  • It's fine if you have time to burn and don't get persuaded easily.

  • +3

    I am a photographer and hate these pushy upsell things. But it's their business model. You need to know all the prices they charge to get the images (high res digital file or print in your desired size) - only then you know if this voucher / gift card / price winning has any value for you. So these gift cards might have not much or no value at all. But watch out … some photographers do sometimes some nice vouchers and deals so don't disregard it straight away. (I sold for example vouchers for a session with 10 highres digital files of your choice - this is usually enough for a family session - makes a great picture wall!)

    The model you describe works on pressure that you can't reject any good photos of your kids/family - and they will tell you in the selection session that they will delete them when you don't purchase them. That is a bit of pressure. You might want to go to get your one free print (or use the value of the voucher) and end up overspending. :-(

    Photography prices are very different and hard to compare - there are amazing photographers out there (you usually don't find them in these voucher studio settings) which create fantastic work. You should know what your session will cost (or what's the maximum you spend on your session. A creative family photographer will charge you between $500 and 1500 per session - (there will be exceptions in both directions). Just look out for some nice websites and make sure you check that the pics are the photographers work (bigger studios hire different photographers). You sometimes find also cheaper photographers which don't know yet what they are worth and undercharge (not easy to find as they soon realise that they can charge more!).

    When you are after an outdoor session make sure you plan accordingly:
    - Weather! You can't plan it! But don't discard overcast weather - it's nice and soft. Make sure you can charge the date in case of rain!
    - Choose ideally sunset time (the best light for photos) - or sunrise (when you can get up that early!). Never choose midday on a sunny day!
    - Style our outfits (think about the colours of the location) - (spend some money on nice clothes! Styling is important!)
    - Make up artist for the girls :-) (or be confident in your own make up!)
    - Make sure your kids are fit at that time (you know them best!) - feed them well and make sure that they got enough sleep the day before
    - Make it an adventure for the kids - nothing worse than going on a photoshoot - far more fun to go on a treasure hunt, a boat ride, explore the rock faces at the beach, … make it fun (And don't tell them to smile … play with them … make them smile by actions!)
    - Don't carry things with you - just yourself
    - Photoprops can add to the scene - Example: Carry a vintage camera and you take pics of your family (while the photographer takes pictures of this scene!)

    A studio environment is much more controlled (light gets created there). You can do anything in a studio - but you always start with a white plain room.
    Most professional studios run a different price model to outdoor session photographers - it costs a lot more to run a studio. You can try to find some smaller home studios when you after the studio look.

    Hope this helps a bit.

    • That was very helpful, thank you :)