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When my daughter was born in 2005, a friend of mine recommended that I buy a " Watch Me Grow" package from Olan Mills to keep these precious memory of my daughter. I will only comment on this package and cannot vouch for any other pictures or package that Olan Mills offer as I haven't tried them.
This package is especially catered for children. Basically you get 4 vouchers that entitle the bearer to 4 private sittings with an Olan Mills photographer in an Olan Mills studio (there is loads of them around the country). You also get one "free" 8 x 10 picture of your choice per seating. Those 4 seatings have to be taken within 12 months so it works out about one picture every 3 months which is very good especially when you have young children as they grow and change so quickly. In my Olan Mills studio we also had the option for my husband and I to participate during one of the seating, making it a nice family portrait.
When you buy your "Watch Me Grow" package they then send you 4 printed vouchers representing your
4 sessions with no dates on however you have to book your session 3 months apart. Booking the session couldn't be easier, there was a call centre number that you call and then booked your session at the time and date desired and in the studio of your choice.
When you get to the shop you get taken to a studio. I found that in my local Olan Mills shop there was about 3 different studios with different size so when my daughter was a newborn they used the small studio (I guess we didn't need that much space as she was just laying down gazing at the ceiling) but as she grew we then got "promoted" to a bigger studio where props could be used. In our case the photographer was always really good and always tried to make my daughter smile or laugh. They also have quite a good selection of backdrops and props (chairs, alphabet block ...) which always helps and looks really nice on a picture. For example on one of the picture they used a little pink wooden scotter that my daughter was pretending to ride and it look really cute. The session lasts about 15-20 minutes max and you are then asked to go and sit in the waiting room.
The free one is a decent size 8 x 10 and is quite nice but a bit old fashion. For example in one of my print, my daughter is laying on a white faux-fur rug which I find a bit old fashion.
A little while later they took us into a little room where they showed us all the pictures taken during the session on a PC. We were then asked to choose our free picture and were given the option to buy other pictures (of course).
I can't remember all the prices for all the package but there was quite a good selection (canvas printed, montage on a frame, buying the CD of the session ...) however it didn't come cheap, nothing less than £40 per picture so be aware however I have to admit that they never did any hard sale and were always fine when we were only choosing our free picture and not buying any of the others.To be honest we were never tempted as there was usually only one or two pictures that stood out for us, our daughter is not the most photogenic baby I guess!!!
We were then given the choice to either come and pick up the print or to have it sent to our home (for a £2.50 fee). However they do tell you that you might have to wait up to 28 days to get your print back but in my experience it was always quicker.
When we bought our "Watch Me Grow" package in 2005 it cost us £25 and it came with a free voucher for a "Makeover style" session (I did not use it as I do not like that kind of picture.) However they phoned me about 2 weeks ago to see if I wanted to buy another package for the next 12 months and they quoted me £35 so quite a big increase.
On one occasion we asked for our print to be delivered to our home and it got damaged in the post. I contacted them and they were really good and asked us to send back the print and they sent us another one straight away.
I am glad that I bought this package as it now give me precious memories of my daughter at different stage of her "baby life" and I probably would do it again if I had another child as the package I got was good value for money however now that my daughter is older I'll probably look into something a bit more modern like Venture (review coming soon).
My parents brought this for my little girl and I found the wimbledon branch was awful, they were not patient with my little girl and the photos was awful, one session she cried the whole session and they would not let me come back at a later date to redo the photos and they really pushed me to buy the packages each time. Good review V x x