Death of the Family Portrait


“Treasured” memories like the above will soon be a thing of the past. Out of the blue, the company (CPI) that runs thousands of portrait studios inside big retail stores such as Sears and WalMart is closing its doors.

In fact, go to, and this is ALL you see:

After many years of providing family portrait photography, we are sad to announce our Sears Portrait Studios are now closed. We appreciate your patronage and allowing us to capture your precious memories. If you currently have an album or have had a recent portrait session, you can order products at thru April 18, 2013. If you have had a recent session, your portraits may be available at your local studio.

Now, before you blast Sears or Walmart, remember that CPI, in business for 60 years, is just a vendor for the retailers. They are deeply in debt, and their time has come.  CPI says that much of the blame goes to the proliferation of camera phones.

Their employees are shocked, to say the least, and more than a little worried that CPI might not make good on their current orders. Some are taking matters into their own hands. One employee “hastily burned as many undelivered portrait packages as she could onto compact discs on Thursday. By Friday, she tried to spread the word to those customers that she’d be at a nearby pet store’s parking lot Saturday with those CDs.”

So, if you have a pending portrait order with a local CPI, you might want to pick up the phone. To CALL them, not to take pictures!

So, what do you think? Will you miss the old portrait studio? Hey, I never used one, but it is kind of sad to lose a minor American tradition such as this.

On a brighter note, here are some bad family portraits from around the web!  Awkward Family Photos, More Awkward Family Photos

8 thoughts on “Death of the Family Portrait”

  1. it is sad that the traditional portrait studios are going out of the stores .the digital age certainly is taking its toll on older technologies from many forms . and it will get worse over time . the traditional portrait studios in stores will be missed by many . going to them is a family special “moment ” that will be lost .
    sometimes i feel that tech. really is taking away from quality of life rather than enhancing it . there is nothing worse than trying to have a conversation with someone while they are texting or playing around with a tech. gadget. i feel it is rude and disrespectful. saddly ,it is becoming the norm though.

    1. I disagree. I use local photographers that use scenic locations, their own studio, or come to my house for photos. My family and I LOVE the personal experience and quality time that we get out of this. Once in the last 3 years (about 9 photo sessions) I used one of CPI’s studios, and it was horrible. They didn’t seem to care about our session, or If I were pleased with the photos. Their prices were unreasonable for what I was receiving also.

  2. I too will miss the in store studios but I have to agree with Stacey. I have had bad and good experiences and mostly bad. I never go without a coupons so the prices haven’t been too bad but the care in taking the pictures has really gone from bad to worse. They rush you through, don’t care if your hair needs adjusting, doesn’t matter if your bra strap is showing or your necklace is not setting right. Very frustrating. I make sure I have someone with me to watch for these things because the photographer sure isn’t concerned. I have always had to pose my own kids too! It just seems they don’t have any creative ideas and it’s because they aren’t trained which would cost the company more. Too bad though because I have had positive times too with real professionals so I know where to go. At least the free standing photo shops will still be around!


  4. This is so sad I remember my parents taken us to stores like sears and Kmart ect.. to get all our family pictures done, They would make a day of it with McD’s after. Thanks for all the years of moments you made it affordable.

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