Doubletake UK Studio Photoshoot Review: Beautiful pictures but a nightmare experience
You know those offers you get accosted with on the street? The ones where you're promised a 'top name' salon day out for a ridiculously low price that includes a makeover and hairstyle? Hopefully you've stayed away from those scams, but you may have fallen into the other trap- the lure of a free photoshoot with one 'lovely free print for you to take home'.
I was given a voucher to their 'flagship Farringdon branch' and like the fool I was I thought I'd go along for a day of pampering. I was prepared that there would be a bit of a hard sell when it came to choosing my free photo but I'd never expected anything like what occurred. The finished photos may look stunning but the tale behind them is that of sweat, money and six months of angry negotiating.
To start with I thought I'd simply call up and book the experience. Even this wasn't as simple as it should have been as they required a £25 booking fee- refunded when you attended your session. I was a little disgruntled about this as I has a free voucher (a free day experience and one free print included), but I gave them my card details. The next few weeks I was hounded with phone calls and emails offering a 'double money' option whereby I'd pay a certain amount before turning up, and then that would count for double when I purchased prints- all of which I declined.
I turned up on the day to the studio and found it tucked away down a street near Farringdon station. It was bright and airy, and I was offered a free drink of champagne on arrival which was nice, and then told to wait for my session. There were lots of women around, and some girls had brought boyfriends. So I sat and waited.. and waited..- and remember I was on time! After around 45 minutes I was called downstairs to get styled up for my shoot.
The stylist didn't seem to friendly, and though I asked her questions about what products she was using I didn't receive an articulate response. A heavy face mask was slapped onto my skin and my chair was reclined whilst my hair was styled. Despite me telling her I had extensions in the hair was toughly pulled and some came out- not impressed.
After about fifteen minutes the face mask was taken off- and then the makeup was applied I was quite horrified at this, as whenever you have a mask you should be especially gentle to the skin afterwards, not apply bucket-loads of camera-ready gloop to the skin that will block all the pores you've just opened. I was asked how I wanted my makeup done, and I said subtle and smokey and was given a very porn starry vampirish look which I had to tone down significantly. When I asked for tips on how she created the look she was NOT forthcoming- I'd hoped for some styling advice and all I got was heavy face mask, hair pulling and OTT makeup.
When this was finished it did look lovely, but the way I got to this stage was unimpressive.
Next step- the shoot.
I was ushered upstairs to a dressing room area with my selection of outfits. I'd been told to bring three change of clothes and ad opted for a classic white T and jeans, a little black dress and a red dress. The room was quite cramped and crowded but I managed to find a spot to strip in and then was ushered into the studio. The whole top floor of the building was a designated shooting area, and my photographer was an amazing woman, very petite but very in control and had me pressed up against the wall giving her backward looks like there was no tomorrow.
It was really enjoyable and I flounced and pouted my way through a series of shots. Then it was back to the waiting room, to wait top see the results. So I waited.. and waited.. for about an hour and a half. There was a bar to make the time go faster, but once your free drink had been imbibed the prices were quite high.
I finally got to the viewing room and almost wanted to weep- image after image of me looking (if I do say so myself) really amazing. I'd never thought I was particularly photogenic but every image was beautiful.
I was determined not to spend money though, but when I was told (unsurprisingly) I could use my deposit money towards an extra image I was very tempted- till I learnt that additional images were £70 each- more if you wanted it on a CD!!
I was still umming and ahhing, so the sales lady left me alone to think about it- then came back and offered me a 'cheap package' of five prints for £300.
She brought out a contact sheet for me to look at- a glossy A4 paper with the images on, but said that would be abnother £40 if I wanted to take those home! All this after the phone calls and emails offering me 'double money' packages prior to the day! She kept going out the room to 'consult' with her boss and offer me cheaper deals, but the cheapest deal was still too expensive, and I opted to just get one free print.
Even this wasn't easy, as I was told that £5 of my £25 deposit would be deducted for P+P costs (a fiver for a CD??) and that I'd receive my money back within four weeks and the image within six to eight weeks.
A month later I has to chase up the money as it still had not entered my account, and it took three mails to get that back. Eight weeks on and nothing. I rang them- sorry we're having a huge demand right now' I was told. Ten weeks on still zero. At twelve weeks I contacted them again and was offered a free print as compensation. OK, but I didn't have the contact sheet to choose it from! Three weeks later the sheet arrived and I chose my extra print, and waited, and waited.. you get the idea huh?
Finally my image arrived- just one, and not both. A couple more angry phone calls and I was offered another free print for the inconvenience- which then took a loooong time to arrive, with follow up calls in the interim.
The final verdict: Lovely pics, but a HORRENDOUS experience. save your money and go elsewhere- the stress isn't worth it,.