I don’t know what to call this passport photo business, so I am just going to stick with “stupid ripoff” for now.
During the weekend, we went into a CVS Pharmacy Photo Center to get some passport/ID photos. We wanted a specific size (as they say “from chin to crown”), so we asked the dude who was attending the photo center whether he can adjust the size. Pat came his reply “No, we just print the standard 2″ by 2″ photo and we can’t adjust any proportions“.
I asked him “But, don’t you have a software where you center the face in the photograph and mark the upper and lower boundaries for the face? All we have to do is to adjust those boundaries and then we can cut the photographs to the size we want - and approximately in the proportion we want“. He didn’t seem too impressed with the knowledge and insisted that he won’t do anything other than the standard 2″ by 2″ without any editing.
So we left the shop, and wondered why the heck they charge $7.99 if they wouldn’t do anything other than click the photograph and print it. Camera rental charges or something? - perhaps they use expensive digital SLRs to get good pictures (wishful thoughts).
Anyways, we then visited a Walgreen’s Photo Center and again got the same story. Next, we again tried a CVS - a different one this time - just to see if one of these “Kodak Certified” dudes could get our photographs the way we wanted. But we met with the same disappointment at this location too.
Finally, we surrendered and asked the CVS guy to click passport sized photos for one of us. We confirmed the price and he said $7.99 for two copies - additional copies will cost extra.
We decided to try it out with two copies to start with.
While we waited for the photos to print out, I saw (with my own eyes) that the photographs were printed on a 4″ x 6″ photo paper - and there were 6 copies on it. Then the dude coolly cut away 4 copies, disposed them, and handed us the remaining two copies.
Man, does CVS implement this type of idiotic business at all it’s photo centers?
Plus, the photos he printed didn’t look sharp at all - pretty sure it was some crappy point-and-shoot camera that didn’t do a very good job of focusing. When we pointed that out, he was like “Oh really? don’t worry all photos printed here look like that and no one ever came back because a photo was not accepted“. Wow! that’s an awesome argument to complement a crappy service.
What’s wrong with these photo centers. Why should a passport photo - clicked by a mediocre digital camera - without any studio-type lighting arrangements - without any professional photographers, cost $7.99?
Just to be sure that I am on the right side of statistics, we checked out another CVS Photo Center and two Walgreens Photo Centers - and got similar less-than-average-quality pictures, overpriced at $7.99 for two copies - topped with a totally unprofessional approach towards clicking good photographs.
Eventually, we gave up on these photo centers and decided to make our own pictures. Bought a 2 yard long white cloth (for background) from Walmart for $2, used our digital camera, adjusted the brightness and contrast in Photoshop, used this free service that lets you size your photos according to your requirements, and printed them again at Walmart (through their online photo service).
Total cost for 32 excellent passport/ID photographs: $2 for the white cloth and about $1 for photo printing = $3 (took a little bit of time with the Photoshop editing, but we were absolutely happy with the end result).
Down with $7.99 for two crappy photos!