It was interesting, how our photo shoot with Image Portrait Studio came about. I chanced upon the opportunity one night when me, my cousin and my cousins boyfriend were at Perth’s Convention Centre, attending the annual Sexpo Festival 2015.
Yes, a Sexpo Festival. Why a prestigious photography business was promoting its name within an environment that focused purely on the joys of sex is anyone’s guess. The only logical reason I could come up with was maybe they did pornographic shots for couples? Or maybe it’s a strategy, and they really don’t care where they advertise, as long as they know that thousands of people are gonna be there. It’s gotta be one or the other.
Anyway, we were surfing the robust crowd when I spotted their booth. Amongst all the peepholes and stalls that sold everything from gigantic dildo’s to pills designed to enhance your bedroom performance, as well as pole dancers and women decked out in lingerie and an assortment of ‘fantasy’ gears, I glimpsed it. Looking out of place, for sure, but reeking with a strangely nostalgic feel that had me drifting towards it.
It could have also been the humongous, black and white portrait I spied from afar, of a father and his baby. Again, I was left wondering why a portrait like THAT was being used as a sales tool for a photography business at a sex event. But my God, it was beautiful. It was one of those timeless prints that could probably conjure up feelings of sentimentality in even the hardest of hearts, and I immediately thought of my girl and her father and the deep, deep bond that they shared. There was a competition going on, offering the chance to win a $475.00 Gift Certificate. So I grabbed the form, wrote down my name, address, and number and popped it into the box. Then I promptly forgot about it.
Until I receive a letter in the mail, saying I had won it. I was ecstatic. Surprised beyond belief.
The experience we had with Image Portrait Studio was, altogether, an extremely pleasant one. I decked my family out in black and white. Me and my girl wore our greenstone necklaces, and her father wore his white bone carving around his neck. These were symbols of our Maori heritage, a heritage we are extremely proud of. The photographer was friendly, accommodating and made us feel at ease. Even our girl seemed relaxed in his presence, and that surprised me because she normally doesn’t tolerate anybody or anything for too long. It could have been because he took our advice and dangled a chocolate lolly as a promise, then gave it to her each time she co-operated. Later, I found out, after pinching one out of the basket at reception, that they were liqueur chocolates. No wonder our girl seemed docile and quiet on the way home after the shoot.
When the shoot was done, we were advised to step out of the studio for forty-five minutes while they processed the photos, so we decided to go grab a bite to eat at Subway. When we arrived back, the viewing session was ready to go. And this is where their professional sales skills really shone through. A blonde girl with a German accent immediately led us into a small, semi-dark room that had all the touches of a beautiful home lounge. Crimson painted walls that boasted canvassed and wood framed portraits of families. Low level lighting that casted shadows about the room. A luxury lounge suite with side tables on which flowers in vases sat. The kind of lounge that I, myself, have attempted to re-create but, as of yet, am still managing to get right.
Anyway, after making small talk, she asked us if we were ready to see our pictures. We said yes. She dimmed the lights, and the huge projector on the wall before us came to life. This is what I meant about their professional sales skills. They know exactly what they are doing. The setting, the mood, even the melodic music playing in the background are all designed to stir the emotions. And that’s exactly what it did as I sat there and watched a slideshow of my family play out on the wall opposite us. It wasn’t just the beauty of the photos that got us. For me, it was the story behind the photos – behind us – as a little family of three. I thought not only of all that we had been through to get to where we are today, but also of the uncertainty of tomorrow, and never knowing what it’s gonna bring. The good times and the bad all flashed before my eyes in that moment. I cried that day. I looked over at Dez and saw he was crying, too. And our girl, who is ever attuned to our emotions, just sat there quietly, looking from me to her dad, holding both our hands, like everything was gonna be ok.
She talked us into purchasing the most expensive package deal on offer. Actually, they didn’t have to do much persuading. When the lights came back on, I basically denied Dez any opinion whatsoever by repeating over and over, through tears and snot, that I wanted them ALL, and I didn’t care what the cost. Which is something I wish I had thought more rationally about at the time. Because, at the end of it all, my $475.00 gift certificate pretty much counted for jack shit when the overall total price of the shoot + canvasses + plus CD + down payment fees ran into several thousand dollars. We are still paying them off to this day, and have another year to go before they are fully paid off. It was very expensive. As lovely as the staff at Image Portraits were, and as much as I am going to treasure the memories of the shoot and the artwork forever, I would recommend people be very, very aware before committing to certain photography companies. Read the fine print. And try not to get too excited if one day you, too, receive a letter in the mail, congratulating you on winning a Gift Certificate to the value of $475.00.
I don’t regret it. Not a single bit. I think Dez does a little, but then that’s him, always worried about money. The canvassed portraits I now have hanging in my house have increased its homely feel by tenfold. The portraits are truly stunning, and its gotta be said that these people are professionals when it comes to creating quality, top notch artwork.. It’s hard to miss the portraits in our house because, not only are they of a mass size, but the tone and the vibe of them gives out the exact message I try my utmost to convey, at all times. That family is important to me. That families are forever. And that, no matter what happens between me and Dez from here out, that’s the way it’s always gonna be.