Department Store Portrait Studio

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by bayoung, Oct 1, 2007.

  1. bayoung

    bayoung TPF Noob!

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    I would love to turn a great hobby into a profession but I have no job experience. I'm more than willing to take classes but I'm wondering if taking a job at a Portrait Studio at a store like Sears or JCPenny's would be a good place to start as well. Would taking a job like this be career suicide or would this be a good thing to help pay for some classes to put on a resume??

    Any advice from those running their own businesses, that have a few photographers working for them, would be great. I think working for a company with multiple photographers would be the next step before going out on my own.

    Thanks.
     
  2. ScottS

    ScottS TPF Noob!

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    I think that it would be a good experience for anyone wanting job credentials. I know the studio at the target i work at is ALWAYS busy and there is a ton going on all at the same time.
     
  3. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Welcome to the forum.

    While I would think that something like that would be better than nothing...I haven't heard many good things about it. From what I've heard, there isn't much creativity involved...everything is set up the same way as it's always been and all you do is position them and click the shutter. If you can't get the kids to smile in the allotted time, you tell them to take a hike. I haven't been into one since everything went digital...but I've heard that now they take the shot, show it to the client and get a yes or no. If it's no, they delete the photo and take another one...no going back.

    I think the most valuable thing you could learn from this, would be interacting with the clients and getting them to smile and relax. However, in this set up, there isn't much motivation. You probably get the same low salary whether they smile or not.

    You might be better off just shooting friends and family to build up your portfolio. A good portfolio trumps a resume...especially when talking to potential clients.
     
  4. JIP

    JIP No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    This is not a bad place to start I guess but I would not depend on a resume' or the list of jobs on it in photography. Photograpy being more of a self made thing the more important thing is having a good rep and some great images to show a potential client or employer. I think a better suggestion might be to try and get in with a local studio. Sweep the floors if you have to clean the bathrooms whatever you do at a "real" studio is going to give you a better start and contacts than any wal/tar/Kmar studio-in-a-box is going to give you.
     
  5. micheleg34

    micheleg34 TPF Noob!

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    I currently work at a chain portrait studio, and though I did learn about posing and framing for portraits, it taught me nothing about using the camera, lighting, etc. Those things I had to learn on my own... And I am personally not comfortable taking 15-20 "good" shots in 15 minutes, then spending twice as much time trying to talk the customer out of their cheapie coupon and into an overpriced package. Basically, I picked up everything they could teach me in a week, and spent the next several months wondering what I was thinking! Now I'm looking for another job.
     
  6. Jovian

    Jovian TPF Noob!

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    I started out my career this exact way when I was 17. I think it depends a lot on the people that you work with, as well as the company that you work for. For me, I worked with a TON of really creative photographers, who were not only working there just as a job, they were really dedicated to being photographers. Things have only gotten better with many of the chains starting to use digital slrs instead of idiot proof cameras. I say go for it... if you learn, you learn, if not, no real loss...right?
     
  7. Greatwhite

    Greatwhite TPF Noob!

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    What is the pay range at a dept store studio.....
     
  8. Bthornton

    Bthornton TPF Noob!

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    I was a trainer at a national chain for years and years. 20 years ago you were taught a few poses for each age group and it was very basic. Not much one could learn other than working with customers. Things really started to change about 6 years ago and photographers got to be more creative when they proved that they new what they were doing and had and "eye" for it.
    That being said you can learn some things in a chain but you really will learn more by just going out and practice, practice and practice. With digital it's not like it's going to cost you a whole lot.
    Along with taking tons of photos read everything you can get your hands on, be it the net, a book or magazine.
    You can start looking and the work of others on the net as well. There is so much to see and study. Yes for a while you tend to mimic something you have seen but after a while you develope your own style.
    So if you do end up working for a chain (and it will be for very little money) learn all you can while there.
     
  9. Jovian

    Jovian TPF Noob!

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    I think I was making about 10 an hour, but for a job while I was in high school, and then college, it wasn't too bad. Everyone has to work, right? You might as well make it something that actually gets a camera in your hands for a paycheck. And you'd actually be shocked at the amount of work that I got from working there. You end up with your die hard clients, who bring their kids only to you, you see them every few months and develop working relationships with them. When you leave...some of them will definitely follow you. I have also got a couple weddings from people who I have done some form of a portrait sitting for in the past. Any photography job can be creative and fun if you make it that way.

    I'll be honest, when I started, the company I was working for was not set up for a creative photographer, but the studio that I was working in was full of photographers who had been there for 10+ years, and who were photographers at heart. We did our own thing, and made the job fun, and creative. The company gradually got better, and more excepting of the creative mind, and therefore made it easier for us to do what we love. The job definitely isn't for everyone, crying, puking, biting kids aren't for everyone (as a 17 year old guy it took me a while to find my groove...) but if you enjoy people...it can be fun, as well as a trust builder to early clients you might have in your own personal work.
     
  10. Efergoh

    Efergoh TPF Noob!

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    I worked for one of those "chains" for about 3 weeks.

    It was more about sales than it was about photography, but hey...work is work.
    Those places would rather hire a sales person that they can teach how to pose than they would to hire a photographer and teach him how to sell.
     
  11. RyanLilly

    RyanLilly No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    That is the sad truth of many businesses today, I went to Ultimate electronics- its Best Buy, but their sales people dress like car salesmen. They didn't know jack about stereos, but the sure knew a lot about extended warranties!
     

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