Portraits are Expensive in Cali

Thomas Hawk writes about his recent experience having a family portrait done.

His wife won/bought an allegedly free 8×10 portrait at a charity auction and afterwards, Thomas and his family had a ton of pictures taken. They got their “free” 8×10 and paid two large for 11 other 5×7 photos.

First, getting hit up for more money is, in my experience, par for the course when you “win” something like this at a charity function. I have been in the same situation, and while it will be an ice cold day in you know where when I pay almost $200 a piece for some 5x7s, I have certainly spent more money on “free” things my wife “won” via a charity than I would have had we not bought said item in the name of good deeds.

Maybe Thomas is a zillionaire and this is chump change to him, but I think $200 a pop for a bunch of 5x7s is an absurd price. And to then try to get him to pay “thousands of dollars” for a wall sized print?

I wish I had skipped high school, college and graduate school and learned how to take good pictures.

Maybe I have lived a poor, sheltered life, but I think the portraits we got at JC Penney look just fine. And the ones we got for a couple of hundred bucks (for multiple copies of a set of photos) from a photographer friend our ours look even better. Plus, we have a big, artsy portrait of the girls on our wall that we got, also at a charity auction, for a couple hundred dollars (I thought that was too much at the time).

In sum, I would have to win the powerball 2 or 3 times in a row before the idea of paying thousands of dollars for one big photograph could pass my ears without invoking laughter or violence.

Then, after Thomas pays $2,000 for those prints, the photographer tells him (at least twice) that he better not scan them to view on his media center computer.

I don’t know whether fair use doctrine applies to portraits or not, but I know that for $200 a pop, Thomas ought to be able to wallpaper his house with those pictures without complaint from the photographer.

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