Groupon Photography Deals Review (Toronto)

Photography session at affordable price – this is what consumers are looking for – this is what Groupon and participating businesses offer. There are really great discounts of up to 94% from the original price. Trueler has received serious complaints on photography deals provided by Groupon, and we decided to make some research and compile a review. It is based on several photography deals in Toronto.

Along with a great price discount clients received approximately the same quality “discount”.

Here is a list of pros and cons of Groupon photography deals explained later with examples:

Pros Cons
Low price for offered package Very low resolution: ~ 1 Megapixel
Tax included Lack of promised retouching
Sounds too good Low to average quality of pictures
Huge delays

Fake promotion on Groupon discussion board

Not responding to phone or e-mail
Session is usually much shorter
Incorrect deals descriptions
Business keeps copyright

If you really consider purchasing a photo deal, make sure it satisfies your needs. Ask questions at the discussion board and see what business owner promises.

  • Ask about pictures resolution. They may answer “high res”, but it can be easily be 600×600 pixels photo, which you may print only 1×1 inches on a 600 dpi printer, or 2×2 inches on a 300 dpi printer. Will you enjoy this tiny pics?
  • Ask about execution times: when exactly proofs and actual photos will be ready. In what number of days. Are you ready to wait for weeks or months?
  • Ask for a bigger photography portfolio, which contains several hundreds of photos. Make sure that the owner is the same. Some photographers put really good pictures on their websites, but they could spent hours and days editing them, or even asked for professional help.
  • Ask what to expect from retouching. Will photographer just remove red eyes and increase contrast with couple of clicks in Photoshop for $700?
  • Ask about copyright if you care. Do you want your family pictures to be edited in any way and published in any kind of promotions?
  • If you see that more than 100 deals already have been bought – forget about it if you care about quality. Photographer will not professionally handle more than 100 sessions including retouching in one year.

In April 2010 there was a deal at Groupon Toronto: “$50 for a One-Hour Portraiture Session and CD with Five Retouched Images from Andrea Smith Photography ($825 Value)“.

Andrea Smith did not respond to many clients at all. Some of the customers reported this unethical behavior in comments at Trueler.com (see link to the Andrea Smith Photography Toronto Review), and some reported complaints at the Groupon discussion board: http://www.groupon.com/deals/andrea-smith-photography/posts

Here are the screen shots from Andrea Smith Photography deal discussion at Groupon website:

Groupon Andrea Smith Photography Deal - Comment 1Groupon Andrea Smith Photography Deal - Comment 1

Groupon Andrea Smith Photography Deal � Comment 2

Many people did not receive “Five retouched images on CD” as it was promised in the deal description, or received it several months later.

She behaved very unprofessionally and unethically. You may read complete review here: Andrea Smith Photography Toronto Review

Quality of the pictures taken by Andrea Smith and job done definitely did not worth $825 as the deal states. It seemed like not more than 5 minutes had been spent on retouching. She made some photos black-and-white or just increased contrast – it takes just couple of clicks in any image editor like Photoshop. Less than half an hour of photo session, less than 5 minutes on retouching and months of waiting do not worth even $50.

Andrea promised full resolution for 5×7 prints:

Groupon Andrea Smith Full Resolution - 5x7

Taking an average printer with 600×600 dpi resolution, it means 3000 x 4200 pixels photos, that is approximately 12 Megapixels which professional digital cameras definitely have. If we take 300×300 dpi resolution printer, pictures should be 1500 x 2100 pixels in size – this is approximate resolution of the images sent by Andrea. But it was pretty high compression, so pictures were about 1MB each. This is not good for high-quality printing, even 5×7.

Discussion board at this deal shows very interesting thing as well. How many deals can one professional photographer handle per year? We are talking about session and retouching worth of approximately $800. Here is the answer from a professional photographer:

“100 sessions a year is a heavy load for a professional photographer with staff”

Groupon Photo Capacity - Jen

Same user signed the post in different thread as “Jen van der Vecht”:

Groupon KeiDi - Jen van der Vecht

She is another professional photographer who featured her business on Groupon in November 2010 with the following deal: “$75 for a One-Hour Photography Session from Jen van der Vecht Photography (a $370 Value)“.

Jen stated that 100 photo sessions a year is a heavy load. How many coupons with her deal Groupon sold? 512! With one year expiration time:

Groupon Jen van der Vecht Deal

Jen van der Vecht did not restrict number of deals knowing that 100 is a pretty good number of them to keep herself busy for entire year. Is she going to reduce quality 5 times? If anyone had photo sessions with her, please share your hopefully positive (or negative) experience in comments to this post.

Jen also posted a faked promotional comment on behalf of “happy customer” at her own deal’s Groupon discussion forum – http://www.groupon.com/deals/jen-van-der-vecht/posts

Groupon Jen van der Vecht Fake Comment

We already know that “j. .” signed as “Jen van der Vecht” in another forum thread…

One more complaint has been received by Trueler about KeiDi Photography in Toronto. There was a deal on Groupon in July 2010: “$50 for a One-Hour Portraiture Session and CD with Five Images from KeiDi Photography – $600 Value“.

388 coupons have been sold with expiration time of half a year. That is 776 portraiture photo sessions per year – even more than Jen van der Vecht offered.

Groupon Kei Di Deal

Customer complained on very bad quality of the pictures and extremely low resolution. Some photos were out of focus, some were fuzzy and most of them were of below average quality. It did not worth $600 at all, and even $50. Anyone could do such kind of pictures. KeiDi promised resolution suitable for 5×7 prints, but sent pictures with 1200×800 resolution (~ 1 megapixel) and bad compression (800KB is for sharing pictures in the Internet, not for printing).

If we want to print 1200×800 on an average printer with 600×600 dpi, we will get a tiny 2 x 1.3 inches photo. She promised 5×7. You do not even need any special digital camera to take those pictures. They are only 1 megapixel and can be taken with any ancient cell phone.

KeiDi also unsuccessfully tried to retouch images, so they looked even worse after retouching.

This is what everyone should expect from photographer’s deals if so many coupons purchased.

Keep in mind when deciding about your next purchase that 100 photo sessions is the maximum number which a professional photographer can handle per year with staff!

13 comments to Groupon Photography Deals Review (Toronto)

  • Lisa

    Hi Trueler,
    Thanks so much for your review! I was actually thinking of buying one of the groupon photo deals today… Will be more careful! =\
    Lisa

  • A

    Thanks for the review. I purchased the KEIDI groupon and the customer service has been absolutely HORRIBLE. Cancelling at late notice, not getting back to you etc. Don’t even know if I should go through with it anymore. Sucks because I don’t want to lose the $50 I paid.

  • liz

    I agree that the customer service is awful very late in responding to requests and not acoomdating when it came tomake an appt. Run if this offer comes up again. I am sure there are other good deals out there that have excellent customer service

  • Jen van der Vecht

    The above article was brought to my attention and I felt it important to respond.

    Groupon is an amazing opportunity and marketing vehicle for small and large businesses alike. My comments on the two young photographers are still bang on. For a beginner photographer Groupon Toronto is most likely an over sized market. I was responding to the negative comments made by Groupon clientele in defence of someone just starting out biting off to much. I wish the best for these two young girls.

    When Groupon later offered to feature my business, I took the size of the market into consideration and carefully weighed the pros. and cons.. I have been shooting Groupon clients for 3 months and I haven’t had any problems with scheduling. I have been meeting a lot of interesting folks, taking a lot of beautiful images and consider Groupon to have been a blessing. Many of the images on my website are happy Groupon clients.

    As far as the mean spirited “observation” on the duplicity of “j”… come on, this is Groupon… there are probably 3,000 j’s.

    Be nice.

  • Trueler

    Hi Jen,

    Be honest!

    You have posted a fake promotional comment at your own deal’s discussion board on Groupon! It is a proven fact.

    I have confirmed with Groupon that all three comments from the user “j. .” mentioned in this article have been indeed posted by one single user. In one place (KeiDi Photography discussion board) the user “j. .” signed as “Jen van der Vecht”. It means that you have posted fake “WOW!” comment about yourself… nobody else from other “3,000 j’s”.

    Because of this, I question your honesty in other aspects of your business and some of your statements as well.

    Trueler

  • N.

    Trueler,
    I think you have your numbers wrong regarding file size and compression. I am a professional photographer shooting digitally, and the images I upload to have printed 4×6, 5×7, and 8×10, with jpeg compression 10, are all less than 1MB, or just near 1MB. Yes, they were shot with high-end digital cameras nearing 12MB full RAW size, but no lab will print a 5MB 4×6 file. And, if you know how to properly size digital files, you can have a 20×24 printed from a 3MB file. The prosumer is obsessed with megapixels, but don’t forget to factor in sensor size of the camera(in non-full frame cameras it can greatly diminish resolution). Anyway, nothing is free, and if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.
    N.

  • Lauren

    All of what you say about buying a photo session from Groupon is true. However, I need to point out that all professional photographers DO retain their copyright, at least in the U.S. It is part of copyright law and no professional photographer gives theirs away. If they did, clients would be able to turn around and profit from the photographer’s images. Just as an author doesn’t give you his copyright when you buy his book, the same goes for a photographer.

    In addition, I know of no professional photographer who provides several hundred photos from a photo session. That is insane and, unless you are paying a few thousand dollars, don’t expect to receive that many images. Photographers spend hours editing and retouching images. A two hour photo shoot should result in no more than 45-60 good images. If you are expecting more than that, be prepared for something sub-par.

  • Trueler

    Hi N.,

    1MB pictures are good to be shared in the Internet and to be viewed on the monitor. But they are not suitable for printing on a fine glossy paper with a good printer at all.

    Comparing 12 MB full size and 1MB after compression, it means that it is a 12 times loss in image quality, like depth of color, sharpness, etc…

    Numbers are correct. If I open a 1 megapixel photo in the program to adjust and print pictures, and set the printer’s settings to 600 dpi, it will re-size them to 2 x 1.3 inches image (you may easily calculate it as well). If we have even 300 dpi printer, we can print this photo as a 4 x 2.6 image, but not promised 5 x 7.

    Summarizing above, we can get very poor quality when printing 1 megapixel, 1 MB photos in acceptable format (5 x 7 or larger).

    I have not heard that “no lab will print a 5MB 4×6 file”. That’s interesting… I believe anyone can print such files on a good color printer.

    BTW, 1 megapixel picture is NOT “high-res” as “professional photographers” promise in the deal descriptions and comments…

    Thanks,
    Trueler

  • Erin

    I think that Groupon can be a wonderful resource for both the consumer and the photographer so long as its done in a professional manner. The client needs to take responsibility to educate themselves about what all the package entails as well as the reputation of the photographer. The photographer needs to educate themselves on to what’s a reasonable expectation of how many sessions they can provide within a given time limit.

  • Ivy Fagan

    It’s stupid to print an image at “600 dpi”, only someone who doesn’t know what they are doing would attempt it. The standard used to be 300 dpi but even that isn’t necessary anymore.

    You don’t really buy a “300 dpi” or “600 dpi” printer. You set the resolution, not the printer. The 600×600 on a printer would refer to the dot pattern it’s capable of printing, not the file size you’re sending to it. And that 600 would be a much larger number with the average of today’s home printers. Most minilab printers, say Walmart, at least the Fuji, have a 240ppi native resolution but don’t have a problem with the software uprezzing them. File dpi and priniter “dpi” (ppi) are two different things. Kind of like fluid ounces versue dry weight ounces, same word but different meanings yet both still measurements.

    A one meg jpeg is usually going to be fine, I’m looking right now at a jpg file that is 1.27 MB. It’s also 3011×2000 pixels. I can make a 20×30 out of it. I’ve made gorgeous 20×30 prints from smaller files. Most canvas companies can print that size canvas from a 4×6 @300 dpi file.

    When this file is open in Photoshop it will display at approximately 8-9MB, cropped slightly from the original raw file because most people’s computers can barely handle this size, let alone the full size. If I were to do absolutely NOTHING to this file other than save it as a tif, the resulting tif would be 8-9MB. On the rare occasion that I shoot raw + jpg, the straight out of camera FULL RESOLUTION jpg is usually 2MB, some a little more, others a little less, depending on how much area of solid color there is versus complicate lines and many colors. Many professionals don’t shoot raw, they’d have just that 2MB jpg (which would open to approx 10MB for my camera and could be saved as a tif that size with absolutely no change of the number of pixels.) And yes, some professional cameras do less than 12MB.

    Your example of the one photographer including 1500×2100 files? You can make a decent 16×20 out of that on canvas, at LEAST an 11×14 regular print. And a pretty dang fabulous 5×7. If the photography is any good, otherwise it doesn’t matter if the file is full res.

    You really don’t understand jpg compression and the corresponding reduction of file size with retained quality possible at even 80-90 percent compression or level 10, which is what most pro labs recommend.

    Your other issues concerning groupon are mostly on target but your ignorance of file sizes and what high resolution means in the photography world are kind of weakening the rest of your case. Please don’t try to talk about things you’re ignorant of and don’t try to use faulty logic to correct someone who is trying to educate you.

    Also, editing if done right is more than a 5 minute deal. I can spend 5 minutes on some images but throw in retouching and we can go up to an hour, depending on how picky the client is. And an hour shooting time means at least as long in preparation and another hour minimum to download cards, sort through, etc.

    Even a really bad shoot and burner is probably spending at least 4 hours on a session, not including bookkeeping time, etc. And add to that a certain amount of $ should be allocated to the wear and tear and need for upkeep on cameras, computers, gas getting to the session, etc. So, after groupon takes their 50% plus CC fees of that $50, the photographer is left with at most $25 for 4 hours minimum work and expenses. Not even $6.50 an hour. 100 sessions = at least 400 hours of time at $6.50 an hour. Who is getting ripped off?

    What you have to understand is that groupon targets mostly newer, less experiened photographers because only a few with more experience and who are successful would even consider it. They talk them into giving more than they can realistically handle and enough so that it’s a great deal for the groupon purchaser but a money loser for the photographer.

    They will hook someone, then go back and forth with them demanding more in the deal and, now that the photographer is onboard the Groupon rep will act like they don’t want them if they don’t include enough cheaply enough. And someone new including a session and 5 digital images might think, hey, I’ll bet I can get people to purchase more and I’ll still make a living. But most people cheap enough to go for groupon photography deals are cheapass enough to stick with those 5 images. People who would scream bloody murder about being exploited for $6.50 or less an hour don’t hesitate to exploit someone else. Maybe they justify it because “they’re a business, they can handle it”. But a photography business is usually just one person, trying to make a living, not some big company with huge resources.

    A groupon for cupcakes might be a great idea for selling more, more, more, many people might return fairly often for those cupcakes. Most people don’t need photo services all that frequently and if the groupon has nothing to potential sell in addition to the “deal” the photographer canNOT make money, it just isn’t possible. So, they not only have say 100 people to service for $1 an hour, they don’t have enough hours left to service clients who might pay more realistic prices. Is it no wonder the photographers drown? The only ones profitting are groupon and a small portion of those who bought.

    The groupon photography deals suck because they sucker the photographer into something that they can’t physically deliver and they end up with subpar photographers working with them so the purchasers get suckered as well.

    And even in Canada where the buyer gets copyright unless the photographer requires a transfer, most REAL professionals do so. They will agree not to use them but they won’t agree to giving up copyright. And no REAL pro in the US will. It’s a sure warning sign of an amateur.

  • Jacob

    My understanding of copyright is if the client (customer) pays for the pictures and no usage terms/model released was signed than the ownership goes with the customer. Am I wrong? Also personally I think all daily deal sites that feature an obvious overinflated price of photo sessions are not sustainable when on a daily deal site. All that work, plus travel for $55-75 is just way too much headaches in reality for the photographer as the travel time, session and post processing makes it unrealistic and unprofitable. I am however assuming they are using photoshop and not quick white balance and quick pre-sets or any other edits being done in lightroom.

  • Andrea Smith

    I just want to point out that there are two Andrea Smith Photographers in Toronto and I’m the other one.. I did not offer a groupon deal and never would I be so unprofessional and irresponsible. This has been haunting me for the last year. But PS – we always keep copyright.

  • Sammy

    I am making a complaint about keidi photography. I never got my images and it’s been a year now since the shoot! Never responds to my inquiries either. Do not use her!! Waste of money!!

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