Before Rosario and I got married two years ago, we hunted around Tijuana for a photographer and video production crew. The photographer we chose wasn’t terribly artsy or creative, but he did offer one thing no one else did: digital originals of all the photos. Most photographers guard originals with their lives to keep couple’s coming back for prints. This guy even gave us a special price for the DVD-R of images because I think I was the first person who ever asked for it. The video crew we hired also offered to sell me the original tapes for the cost of the media only. The source material is priceless to me, and luckily, I found a few people who didn’t realize it.
So the other day, we wanted to give some wedding photos out as gifts. I used Walmart’s online photo service to upload and order the prints (I’ve been impressed with the quality/price/speed of their prints). An hour later, a guy from Walmart calls to say he can’t print the photos because they are “professional.” He explains that they will print the photos if I bring in a signed release form from the photographer. “I own the originals,” I explain. “I bought them as part of the photographer’s services. He didn’t give me a release form, he gave me the images.” He repeated, “You’ll need to bring in a release form or I can’t print these.” I tried to explain the situation in simpler yet increasingly louder terms. He regurgitated company policy again and again like a robot stuck in a loop. After I was just about ready to tele-strangle the guy, I gave up and asked for a refund instead. “You’ll have to come in to the store with the receipt you printed to get the refund.” They couldn’t even refund it online where I’d ordered . . . I debated whether the gas to drive in plus the exasperation was worth the $7.81 refund, but I decided it was.
Moral: Buy a good photo printer or go to a local non-franchised print shop.