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The big man in red for Christmas last year threw up some surprises in my stocking: my favourite tv series box set , a perfume I’d been lusting over for months, Lush goodies galore and.. what’s that? A voucher for a deluxe makeover and photoshoot as New ID studios in Manchester? “I’m not going,” I decided almost instantaneously. Don’t get me wrong I’m not ungrateful but I did wonder why the present-giver had chosen this voucher for me, granted I am quite girly but the idea of sitting around for hours all dressed up in a poky room having a few photographs taken and then being fleeced for a post-it note size image of myself didn’t sound like my idea of fun.
I think the voucher had a life span of 12 months to redeem my photoshoot and makeover experience and in March last year I’d completely forgotten about it and put it at the back of a drawer attempting to put it off but ofcourse I got a phonecall from the present-giver asking if I’d been to the New ID studios yet I made a quick excuse and immediately felt guilty so I dug out my voucher.
A typed up letter came with the voucher which told me everything I needed to know, the first step to claiming my makeover and photoshoot experience was to ring the studios and book an appointment as they are in high demand so I took the plunge and rang the nearest studios which was in Manchester they booked me in for 3 weeks time.
I read the rest of the letter and learnt that I had to take 3 different outfits with me, take my lunch as I could be there for several hours and take some cash in case I decided to purchase any of the photographs taken. Fat chance, I thought. I also read about what the experience entailed : a professional make up application, a professional hair cut, a blow-dry and finish, a professional photoshoot, private viewing session, a complimentary 12x8 print and complimentary drinks throughout. I began to come round to the idea when I learnt that I’d be getting a hair cut and complimentary drinks.
**My experience begins** As 3 weeks came and went it was the day of the photoshoot I’d already picked out a few outfits and jumped on the train with my packed lunch. I had printed out a map from Google from Manchester Victoria train station to the studios it was about a 15-20 minute walk and was very easy to find. I was expecting to see a beauty salon type exterior to the studios which is was once you take the life inside an official looking building as the New ID studios is located above an office.
Upon entering the studios I was greeted by a lady on the reception desk she took my voucher and gave me a glass of Bucks Fizz which didn’t taste great to be honest but it was free! I was given a clip board and a questionnaire to fill out which asked me all sorts of questions such as how I wanted my eye makeup and hair.
**Make over** It was an hour before I was called into the make up artists room, this room was average sized and there was 3 other ladies having their make up done at the same time and it felt a bit like being on a factory production line once one of us had finished having nail polish applied we moved on to another ‘station’ where we were prodded as and brushed to perfection. Afterwards I barely recognised myself as the makeup was heavy I was told this was for the cameras, despite this the makeup artist did a great job and did exactly how I asked. The only part I didn’t like was the make up artists must be on commission as they tried to push New ID cosmetics down my throat which were overpriced.
**Hair Cut** It was another hour and a half before the hair dresser called me over the hairdressing part of the studios was very modern and spacious and my bucks fizz was promptly topped up. The hair dresser was very chatty and did a great job on my hair doing exactly what I asked and talking to me the whole way through which put me at ease. After blow drying my hair the hair dresser then asked if I wanted any particular style so I opted for straight and sleek hair which she completed quickly and then sent me to one of the many photography rooms.
**Photoshoot** I was asked to change into one of the 3 outfits behind a curtain in the room I felt slightly uncomfortable but changed quickly there were many props and backgrounds in the room and the photographer talked me through the different positions and looks that I should do in front of the camera. The photographer wasn’t very chatty and seemed in a rush to get it over and done with – probably because there were many other women and a few families also sitting in the waiting room, having their hair done or being ‘made over’. I felt slightly uneasy in front of the cameras which probably would have been eased had the photographer been slower and spoke more or if I would have had a friend or family member with me. I had around 100 photographs taken in all in my 3 different outfits and infront of the many backgrounds and props including stairs and giant circle.
**Private viewing session** After my photoshoot was over I was again directed back to the waiting room where the receptionist drew my attention to a shelf full of free samples so I took my pick of a few shampoo and soap samples and waited 40 minutes before I was called to yet another room. Here, a gentleman showed me my pictures on a screen I recalled in horror at some of the images on the screen and he offered to edit them he ended up editing 70% of the pictures getting rid of the red-eye and editing my complexion in places. I was happy with some of the pictures and selected the best from the prints which I was given my print of. He then offered me several packages and deals in order to get me to buy the prints. After promising myself that I wouldn’t buy any of the pictures I couldn’t help myself and ended up paying £100 for 3 images on a disk I was told it was this price due to having to buy the copyright to the images from New ID studios. My disk was given to me then and there and I walked off £100 lighter.
**Overall** Overall, my experience at New ID studios was a lot better than I expected, the hair cut and make over were the highlights of my day and I was pleased with the results however upon walking back to Manchester Victoria train station I was given a few funny looks as I had a full face of heavy makeup on, my hair newly styled and a party-style dress on! The waiting around (about 7-8 hours) is to be expected making it a very long and tiring day.
The New ID studios do many packages ranging from £25-£250. They also have packages for groups, weddings and children. I noticed that on their website they offer children’s packages and make up lessons too making them an ideal present which would suit different friends or family members. The ID studios have offices in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle, Cardiff, Bristol and Glasgow.