I got a call one evening a couple of weeks ago while I was in the middle of a supermarket from Elite Studios in London. “You have the chance for a free fashion photoshoot,” a lady on the phone said and asked for my bank details to take a deposit. I was initially very suspicious. But…
Then she mentioned that my friend Ana Maria had recommended me, who I indeed know and trust. She had put my name down so I could get this chance – and I had indeed seen professional pics on Ana Maria’s facebook profile the day before.
Stuck between tomatoes and tinned soup, I asked for some time to think about it, but the lady said the promotion would end that day. So, not wanting to miss out on the opportunity to have photos taken like my friend’s, I said yes.
They took 70 Pounds out of my account (35 for me and 35 for a friend that I could bring) and sent me a ticket with the details of my appointment, including the promise of a free image.
Today, I went to their studio which – to my utter relieve actually existed and was buzzing with people. Make-up artists, service people, photographers, photoshop people and dozens of other clients looking like they were also there for the promotion.
They made me and my friend give them 10 numbers of our friends each (so the promotion did not end that day, hum?) before the whole thing started, so they could also get the chance of this fabulous free shoot as well, promising a goodie bag (which we never got).
(I am VERY sorry, everyone!)
They then took time to take care of our make-up and hair, being really caring about what we wanted. At this point I felt like I was being given a great deal.
Downstairs a photographer made us stand in super hurtful positions, telling me and my friend that we had serious posture problems, and were only “using 35% of our body muscle”, which did not actually make me feel comfortable.
When I asked her about the camera she was using she said: “Oh, this isn’t mine. I’ve got a very nice baby at home, but this place clearly doesn’t deserve that kind of quality.” I should have turned on my heel there and then.
She rattled on about her personal issues for the whole two hour shoot, sometimes even forgetting that she was supposed to be taking our picture. My head was left spinning by the end.
We both changed into four different outfits and by the time the shooting was over, 3 ½ hours had gone by.
After some more time, they summoned us into one of the back rooms where we looked at the pics.
Only then they informed us that we would only get one free image (not one each) and that every other image would cost 75 Pounds (the amount getting less the more you buy).
But as we are students we could pay in instalments, if preferred.
Well, we settled for the one free image we had been promised – and was the reason for going in the first place – which turned out to be the size of my thumbnail and of very poor quality. When questioned about it, I received the answer that this was a ‘promotional picture’.
So, we left after four rather exhausting hours with nothing but a tiny, pixelated image and a lot of make-up around our eyes.
I should not have trusted these people. I mean, I normally know better, but the fact that my friend had thought it safe to give them my number caught me.
I feel a bit stupid, but also scammed. I got my deposit back, but I lost half a day and it just feels like a huge waste of time now.
My friend and I thought that if they had given us one normal sized pic each, we would have recommended them.
But now, I can only strongly advise anyone out there not to go. Hang up. Do not take your friends. Because it will make you feel let down and betrayed.
But they got something very valuable out of us (besides range of photos which of course we will never allow them to use for anything and a waste of their resources):
And that is 20 numbers of people we like and thought might enjoy having their picture taken. But by writing this down now, I hope that I keep all of you and anyone else reading this from ever saying ‘yes’ to the “free, promotional coverlook experience”.