A Grad’s Guide to Artona, part 1

It’s been a few weeks now since the Artona gongshow, and as I’ve had some time to reflect on the experience, I think one thing that would’ve really helped is if the whole process had been more clear. The large majority of us had never set foot in the studio prior to our assigned weekend, and even those who had taken pictures with their friends from other schools couldn’t explain everything about pricing, procedures, etc. I for one would have appreciated more upfront information, so I’m going to offer insight I gained after going through the whole process in the hopes it will help someone else out down the road.

Before reading the rest of this post, you should read everything in the ‘Grad photos’ section of the Artona website, and consider my list as a supplement  to their information.

11 tips/suggestions/pointers for your Artona grad photoshoot

1. Don’t be late.

I learned this lesson with my first photo. If you are taking a group photo, try to have all your members there 15 minutes prior to the scheduled time of your photo. If you guys run late, there is a chance they may skip over your group and tell you to reschedule to another time (9:30pm that night, for example).

2. Having said that, Artona usually runs late.

This applies much more to group photos than individual photos, which makes sense. With groups there are a lot more people to coordinate, and thus the group photo schedule can be anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour or more behind schedule. Hey, more time to take photos with people outside! With individual photos, I think the latest they ever ran was 15-30 minutes, but they are less forgiving than the group shot coordinators. If you are up and your friends aren’t there for the friendship shot, too bad – since there are so many rooms, each with a different photographer, coordinating is difficult and they won’t stall for you. (Of course, these time delays may vary depending on how busy it is at the time; if barely anyone else is there, obviously they wouldn’t be as behind as when the whole waiting area is crowded with 10 different groups.)

3. Even though they run late, they want your money 15 minutes prior (group shots).

They didn’t really make their policy super clear, but I got the sense at times that if all the members in a group had not paid by about 10-15 minutes before the shot, they would just cancel your shot. If people run late, you can just pay for the missing people and work it out later.

4. Smaller groups work better than large groups.

Somewhere on the Artona website, it says that the group limit is 16. While that’s not really true, it’s a good number to abide by. All groups shots are taken in the same room, and you can only fit so many people into the frame. When you have a smaller group, you can get more creative with the shots, such as doing jump shots, cool formations, and matching poses. The bigger your group, the more the shots tend towards sitting on the chairs, having both smiling and serious version shots, and hugging (read: collapsing on) everyone.

5. Don’t take photos inside.

You will get owned by the intimidating Artona staff who like to rip open curtains and throw their hand in front of your camera, muttering soft threats about licensing and taking away your camera and whatnot. True story.

6. You can take pretty photos outside, though.

I must say, the Artona studio is gorgeous. I know you kind of expect that of a business that is in the business of making people look pretty, but even the outside looks nice. You know how you see everyone else posting their albums of Artona photos taken with their friends etc.? You know, the ones that have 80 photos of basically the same people taken from different angles/poses/varying times of day? Anyways.. yeah, those are taken right ouside the door to the studio. It’s not as big an area as it might seem, but you can get some nice legal shots there.

7. They’re pretty lax about their rules/procedures.

Okay, so I told you to read their website and everything. And I also reminded you of the group limit size. But, Artona kind of lies on their website (among other things). First of all, group shots can be as few (2) people or as many as you can fit in the frame. You can book more than one group per person, although obviously the online system doesn’t allow that, you would just arrange it in-studio. The group member list you type in the online sign up doesn’t have to be accurate. Basically, they’re not that uptight about stuff so don’t worry too much.

8. Don’t wear too much makeup.

Okay, I have to admit this is more of a personal pet peeve than a strong suggestion, but.. girls, please try to refrain from caking on 5 layers of blue eye thingy above your eyes. I don’t even know what to call/describe it but it looks so ughh!! I know it’s grad photos and you’re supposed to prettify yourself, but c’mon, don’t make yourself so dolled up that I can barely recognize you. Makeup should be used to enhance your natural features, not cover up your flaws.

9. Be creative with your shots!

I have to say that although my shots turned out well overall quality-wise, but I’m pretty disappointed with some of the poses I did/didn’t do. I realized afterwards that I should’ve used my [insert your own athletic/other characteristic props here] (for me, gymnastics grips) in my white room photos. Also, creativity in group shots counts the most!! Would you rather look back 20 years from now of a photo of your group of friends hugging or in a pyramid?

10. The photographers tell you how to pose.

That is their job. Don’t worry about having to think of what to do on the spot, because the photographers will help you and guide you. Of course, if you have ideas of what you want to do, you can tell them and they will adapt to your idea. Sometimes, though, it gets kind of awkward/tedious: “Tilt your head this way.. turn your body this way.. chin down a bit.. tilt a little more…” …yeah.

11. Beware the awkward wall/intense wallpaper shots.

Awkward wall shot.

I don’t know what it is about the ‘Living Room’ setting (its the second room/7th & 8th shots), but the shots in here just turn out plain awkward most of the time.

Fierce: Kind of like this, except not.

They give you a choice of what you want to do, and I’m not saying you should avoid choosing the “wall shot” (where you stand/pose beside a beige stone wall), but.. I think part of the awkwardness comes from if you smile, because then the picture looks like “hahaha omg look I’m so happy because I’m standing beside a wall” sorta thing.

Then, there’s the intense wallpaper shot, where they make the lighting all dark and weird and you come out looking like you have a size 20 outer glow. I’ve seen people smile, be serious, grope the wall, and other things, and it still turned out odd-looking. Really, I think the only thing you can do to draw attention away from the backdrop is to pose with a fierce face.

Eh, I was going to combine everything into one entry, but this is already pretty long so I’ll save the second “Artona FAQ” part for a separate post.

Fellow grads, feel free to add/correct anything you think I’ve missed by posting in the comments.

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One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Mishee on 11 December 2009 at 4:28am

    SMALL GROUPS. YES.
    also, no one’s going to tell you what happens so you have to plan in advance for everything…
    and think of good poses/props beforehand because no one’s going to tell you what you can do!
    oh. and practice your smile. heh heh.

    Reply

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