The difficulties of buying grad photos High pricing and a lack of affordable digital options are unfair to students

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By: Alannah Pelini

The end of the semester brings the stress of final assignments, last-minute midterms and the looming dark cloud of exams. For those graduating this year, you are realizing that graduation is within arm’s reach and that you should probably book those grad photos. Some already had their photos done and have received them in the mail. Others may still be waiting for their session.

For those waiting, allow me to shed some light on what is to come after your session. Two weeks after having your pictures taken, you will receive prints with all your poses in the mail. These prints are covered in watermarks for copyright protection. You will also receive an access code for their online store where you can order your photos. There are a number of packages to choose from ranging in price from $63 to $419. You will soon notice that if you are looking for a few photos, each with a different pose, the website offers no reasonable options. We as student deserve better options for our post-secondary milestone.

Being a 21st-century student, you look for a CD or jump drive, some type of digital copy of your prints in order to print what you want for yourself. The site offers none of these options. To receive a CD with all your prints, you must buy one of four packages ranging in price from $279 to $419.

To save you some time, I already called the company and asked about the CD, only to be informed that the CD was offered by itself in previous years, but this year the company decided it would only be offered as a bonus. No comments were made on the reasoning behind this switch. They do not offer any digital download options.

After creating a bit of a fuss, the supervisor offered to sell me just the CD for $279 plus taxes and shipping. If that price sounds familiar, it is because that is the cheapest package price that includes the CD as a bonus. When I was on the phone I didn’t realize that was the same price as the package, but last time I checked CDs do not cost that much to make.

After four years at Mac, we have spent thousands of dollars on tuition, over-priced food, textbooks that sometimes are never even used, ridiculous parking fees and we still don’t know how much we will be charged to walk across the stage at graduation. Given the celebratory occasion, one would expect better options.

You may not care about the cost of grad photos right now, but wouldn’t you rather have this dealt with now rather than later, when you graduate?

A Facebook page entitled “Grad photos for the 21st century student” has been created in the hopes of learning what other schools are offering in comparison to Mac. It was also created to find others who want to see this change. In addition, some schools in Ontario already offer more advanced options, such as Humber College and University of Guelph-Humber who both offer USB options to their students.

Two major options are being discussed. We could petition the school to better support their students by contracting a company with options that students are looking for. Or, and this is more complicated, we could find somewhere else to take our grad photos.

Spotted at Mac, the anonymous Facebook page, receives countless posts of student photographers looking for people to sit for them. Graduating students brought their own USB and a small donation for the photographers’ time. Students with a developed portfolio who are capable of handling the job could be hired as part-time photographers as opposed to a third-party photography company.

Although these options may be difficult to implement, students should be able to purchase their graduation mementos on their own terms. Considering the high cost of getting the degree in the first place, students should at least save some money here.

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