Frequently Asked Questions

Thank you for your interest in BEL Portraits!
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or call us at 207-223-4400 with any questions you may have that aren't addressed here.

Where is BEL Portraits located?
Our studio is located at 56 Main Street, Winterport. We're in the middle of everything! Just 20 minutes from Downtown Bangor, 30 minutes from Belfast and Bucksport, and 40 minutes from Ellsworth.

What are your hours?
By appointment only.  Regular studio hours are Monday thru Friday 9am - 5pm. We offer limited evening and weekend sessions as well.

Can I schedule an appointment after regular studio hours or on the weekend?
We realize that some clients don't want to worry about missing school or taking time off of work. Therefore as a convenience, we are willing to schedule a limited number of portrait and ordering sessions outside of regular studio hours. Please keep in mind these limited times are very popular and sometimes book several weeks in advance, so we can't guarantee we'll be available.

What exactly is the reservation retainer?
We require a $200 reservation retainer to confirm the time and dates of your portrait session and viewing/ordering session.  We can accept VISA, Mastercard, and Discover over the phone.  You are welcome to mail a check, but session times will not be entered into our system until the check is received.  The entire reservation fee will be applied to your portrait order.  Unfortunatley we don't have enough time to reserve sessions without a guarantee.

Can I reschedule?
We understand that sometimes things may come up that make it impossible to keep your appointment, therefore there is never a fee to reschedule.  Just please keep in mind that the shorter the notice, the more difficult it might be to find a time that is convenient for you.  If you need to reschedule, your reservation retainer will follow your rescheduled appointment.  

Is the reservation retainer refundable?
If you need to cancel, the reservation fee will only be refunded with a minimum 21 day notice.

How much will I be spending?
Instead of pre-set packages that would limit your options, we prefer to allow our clients to build their own custom portrait collections so that you can qualify for discounts while selecting the exact sizes, quantities and products that you want.  Custom portrait collections begin at $400. Many of our clients choose to create wall groupings from their session and our custom albums are also very popular.   It is entirely up to you what art pieces you would like to create from your portraits and how you would like to display them. Just don't be surprised when you love the images we have created for you and you end up wanting to invest more than you originally thought!  Please call us for more details on our portrait pricing.

What do we wear?  What do we bring?
Clothing & props are very important as they set the tone of your entire portrait session. The appropriate clothing varies depending upon session type. During your portrait consultation, we'll discuss the proper clothing style and color (as well as props) in great detail. We'll make sure you know exactly what to wear to look your absolute best.

What about hair, makeup, and glasses?
Try to have your hair cut/permed/highlighted at least one week before your session. Try avoiding new hairstyles right before portraits - just in case!  
A little cover-up or concealer works great to hide blemishes on both females & males.  Many of our clients opt to have their hair styled & makeup applied professionally for their session. If you choose to wear your glasses, please keep in mind that it may not be possible to avoid all reflections and glass glare.  There is an additional fee to remove any unwanted reflections or glass glare. We'll go over even more tips and suggestions during your consultation.

How long will the portrait session last?
The length of your portrait session depends upon the type of portraiture you are interested in and the number of individuals being photographed.  Once we have planned out your session, we will be able to give you a better idea of how long it will last. For a majority of our sessions, you can expect your session to last between 30 and 90 minutes.

What if it is cloudy or raining?
Don't worry about clouds. We actually prefer clouds because then we don't have to worry as much about squinting or harsh shadows.  Showers can come & go very quicky, so if it looks like rain just call before you leave and we’ll decide if we need to reschedule your session.  Keep in mind that we can get some really fun & unique outdoor portraits in the rain - especially for seniors!

Do I get to view my portraits online before our ordering session?
Portraits will not be uploaded to our website until they have been retouched.  Only ordered portraits are retouched. 
 
Do we get proofs to take home?
When you come in for your ordering session, your portraits will be projected onto a large screen and you will get to view them for the first time via an awesome slideshow.  We will project your portraits in a range of actual sizes so that you can see different cropping ratios. At this point, you will have TONS of questions about expressions, retouching, possible head swapping, cropping, products to use - just to name a few. Giving you some small "proofs" to take home or posting the images online could leave you overwhelmed and frustrated to the point where your final portraits get stalled. With this new advanced method of proofing, there are no “proofs” to take home. Instead, we will guide you through the viewing/ordering process so that you will be comfortable knowing you'll get the portrait products that YOU want and need.
 

What size of portraits will work best for my home?
We believe your portraits really come to life when they are printed and displayed in your home.  

Desk/Gift portraits (8x10 and smaller) are appropriate for desk or table display since the smaller images need to be held close to be seen comfortably.  Small wall portraits (11x14) are versatile and work well on walls and on desks & shelves. 

The appropriate size wall portrait for displaying depends upon the wall space available.  For the most visual impact, portraits should occupy at least 50% of your available wall space.  Don’t forget to email us snapshots of all walls you want to display portraits on. We will use our ordering software to help you decide which size portraits best fit your home.  Our clients love being able to see exactly what their portraits will look like on the walls of their homes!

What if I have a hard time deciding on what to order during my view & order session?
Don’t worry!  You will never be rushed or pressured through your viewing/ordering session. We will be there to help guide you through the process of sorting out your favorites and to explain all of your options.  We will answer all of your questions along the way and, if asked, offer our professional opinion.  You do not have to finalize you order at this session, however most clients choose to so that they can receive great bonuses and discounts, and get their finished portraits quicker!  Additional view & order sessions are available if necessary for an additional fee but are rarely necessary because we will take plenty of time to make sure you are comforable with your order.

Will my portraits be retouched?
All portraits ordered include light retouching and artwork– removal of blemishes, softening of the skin, color enhancement.  We will not remove scars, moles or birthmarks unless specifically requested.  Extensive retouching - such as removing braces, glass glare, clothing straps, etc.- can be done for an additional fee.
 
Do you offer frames?
For your convenience, all of our wall portraits receive a complimentary standard frame. After all, you wouldn't buy a car without tires. Why would you purchase a wall portrait without a frame? We also have a variety of custom frames available for you to choose from. We prefer to frame and finish your wall portraits so that you can take them home and immediately have them ready for display.

Do you sell the digital negatives or raw files?
In this digital world, some folks think they want the digital files as part of their order. Seems like a great idea - at first. Here's why you DON'T want the image files:
1) The final images we create (and the subsequent files) are calibrated specifically for our professional lab. Exposure, white balance, saturation, contrast, highlight density, shadow density, clarity, and cropping are all factors that need to be accounted for when creating a photographic product.
When an image calibrated for our professional lab that is supposed to look like this:
03 Neillb-2

is printed at another lab or on a home printer, it can often look like this:     
03 Neillb-5

Not only would this reflect poorly on you and diminish your enjoyment of your family portrait, it would certainly reflect badly on BEL Portraits and our reputation. Think of it this way. Would you go to the effort of dressing up to go to a five-star gourmet restaraunt, and then ask the chef to just give you the raw ingredients for one of his amazing meals, thinking you could prepare the final dish by yourself?

2) "Out of sight, out of mind". It's been shown that clients who do purchase the image files, do NOTHING with them. Time is valuable. Clients simply don't have the time to find a lab that will handle the files properly, let alone figure out exactly what to have printed. And what if the lab doesn't print the images exactly as you want? Will they stand behind them and print them over at no charge? Again, why would you take the time, energy and effort to plan out your ideal family portrait, go through the session, only to have your images wind up in a shoe box?

3) Do you remember floppy discs? Who's to say the DVD you purchase your images on will be usable in 5, 10, 20 years? When you invest in portraits or art work or an album, it will be there to cherish for years to come. Once you've purchased a portrait product, you'll never have to worry that changing technology may stop you from viewing it.
 
Do you have a satisfaction guarantee?
Absolutely!  We want you to love your finished portraits. All of our portraits come with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. We want you to be completely satisfied.  So, PLEASE let us know if anything happens to be not quite what you expected!

What if one of my portraits gets damaged?
All of our products carry a lifetime warranty.  If the workmanship in any of your portrait products fails - just let us know so we can repair or replace it for you.
 
How long do you keep my images?
We keep all images ordered by clients for a minimum of one year.  But the inevitable is possible, hardware and disk corruption, fire, etc. We go to great lenghts to back up and keep your images safe, but to ensure you get all images you want, we recommend you order everything at your view and order appointment.
 
Do you have a Referral Program?
Our greatest compliment is to see you again. Next to that is your referral!  We love it when you love your portraits and when you tell your family & friends. You will receive a $100 certificate good towards your next session (or to gift to a family or friend)
 
Can I scan your portraits?
All portraits from BEL Portraits are copyright protected.  It is ILLEGAL to scan, copy, or reproduce the portraits without the written permission of BEL Portraits. Which means, that scanning for electronic purposes (Facebook, Myspace, digital frames) is NOT allowed.  We offer low resolution images for electronic use. We appreciate your understanding & cooperation.