Would you work at Wal-Mart as a beginner?

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by Senor Hound, May 28, 2008.

  1. Senor Hound

    Senor Hound TPF Noob!

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    I've heard of some people with no professional photography experience working at places like Wal-Marts to get started. Would you recommend someone taking that route? I thought about applying, but I don't think I'm good enough. Then again, I heard someone say they'll train you to be good enough, and that they have to train most photographers since most professionals don't want to work at a Wal-Mart...no offense.


    So would you try and work at a Wal-Mart if you were starting out in photography? Really its impossible to tell if I should, so I'll only ask if you would being in the same boat as myself.

    P.S. As a side question, what about working in the Photo Lab at a Wal-Mart? Would that be a good job for a wannabe photographer?
     
  2. Arch

    Arch Damn You! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I'll move this to the discussions section rather than the pro gallery.

    ... and yea i have a friend who worked for a photo lab part time while she was at art collage gaining a qualification in photography... it all looks good on the CV if you have to earn money for now.
    This is in England however so i don't know much about the whole Wal-Mart ethos.
     
  3. Mike_E

    Mike_E No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I would say no but for perhaps a different reason than you might think.

    It seems to me that you would risk burn-out with out having learned very much at all.

    All manner of people in all sorts of moods dropping by after a long bout of jostling in the food isles and not finding their size in the plus department. (nothing wrong with the plus department but if you are shopping at walmart for hard to fit frames then they are unlikely to be fitted well.) Not to mention the kids who are unmanageable and tired of being in that cart.

    The cameras appear to be fixed as well as the strobe and stools so you would learn nothing about exposure or composition except putting the biggest in the middle trying to fit everyone in the frame.

    Ahh what am I saying, if it's the only job you can get, go for it. Just don't take it personally.
     
  4. jlykins

    jlykins TPF Noob!

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    The jobs at Walmarts photo labs are more of a "sales" job than a photography job. They have the camera pre-set for the strobes, and you get no knowledge of exposure/lighting ect... However you would get experience with kids in a portrait situation, and if you can make all of those kids smile that's one step forward. If you want to learn about photography, contact local photographers and see if they would be willing to hire you as an assistant.
     
  5. Battou

    Battou No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I say go for it, Wal-mart photolabs suck, there are no two ways around it, but it is a job in the field. In the event I ever ran into an employee at wal-mart that actually new that a camera was more than a little pink electronic that they carried in their purse I would be a happy individual. On top of that Wal-Mart labs despite the high employee turnover do look good on a resume shoul you wish to continue in the lab tech position at a higher end lab. Wal-Mart is constantly rotating staff so experience is not as strict a requirement, higher end labs require more experience. Wal-Mart can be an adaquate place to get it.
     
  6. mrodgers

    mrodgers No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I'm not a professional, nor have been doing this as a semi-hobby for very long. But as a long time Walmart Portrait customer, here are my thoughts now that I do have a little knowledge in the photography department (even if it is mostly just textbook knowledge...)

    Walmart does portraits for $5.99. That is what they advertise and that is what most customers expect. As a customer, for $5.99, you get the first decent shot only with no extras in backgrounds or props. After shopping all afternoon with the kids, the kids are not very cooperative and getting anything beyond the $5.99 shot is difficult. You have the uncooperative children who must sit extra because the "photographer" of Walmart must take more shots with more backgrounds and more props to entice the parents to purchase the larger packages. You also have the parents who are just there for the $5.99 package and don't care about any other shots, but the "photographer" must take the extra shots whether the customer wants them or not. It is a waste of time for the children, the parents, and the "photographer" alike.

    The camera they use is usually one of the superzooms just taken off the shelf as they are the cheapest with manual control for Walmart to use. Nothing against the superzooms, that is what I use myself, but as a paying customer, I definitely am not shelling out the money if you are going to cheapen it by using the cheapest camera and expect me to pay half the price of the camera for lesser quality images than you would get if they would even pull a beginner dSLR of their shelves.

    As others have said, everything is already staged up for you. The lights are sitting in one spot and never move. But, there are photographers here that do studio portraits and perhaps when you do this stuff, you really don't need to be moving lights around when people will be sitting in the same spot as everyone else, I don't know.

    The thing I notice the most with Walmart shots now that I understand more and see more photos is, the camera sits on a tripod and never moves. The camera is pointing into the center of the subject, thus the focus is usually centered directly at the chest. The shots are NEVER crisp and sharp. I have a 7 yr old and a 4 yr old, so my wife has been getting their pictures taken at Walmart at least 7 times (once per year). We got my oldest daughters school pictures back, which is done by a local photographer, and the difference between those and the Walmart portraits of the 4 year old last year were amazing.

    I believe that the Walmart "photographers" are nothing more than a "promotion" within the ranks of the Walmart workforce. I mean that they are cashiers, customer service personnel, cash office workers, etc, that are moved over into the portrait department to be "photographers" just like the electrical "experts" at Lowes and Home Depot were just running cash registers or working in the garden section the week before and are moved over to the electrical department.

    The people who think Walmart portraits are great looking are the people such as my wife, who will refuse to zoom in on our kids in the backyard playing 300 feet away so that they are merely a spec in the photograph and think it's the greatest photo ever. There is so much wrong with Walmart's portraits that it's not even worth the $5.99 that they are charging......

    I wouldn't want to work there if photography was my interest. I would work there if extra spending money while I was in high school was my interest.
     
  7. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Maybe if I was 15 years old, had no experience and no knowledge about photography, there would be something for me to gain there, yes.

    For anyone over that age, thats had a dSLR for over 6 months... you are already well OVER-qualified for the job. Seriously.

    In terms of photography, there is nothing that they could teach you. However, looking for the silver lining in that situation, becuase you would be exposed to difficult people, your customer service skills would be challenged on a daily basis.

    So, if you are looking to better your photography, look no further than your mirror. If you are looking to challenge and improve your cutomer service skills... go for it.
     
  8. Emerana

    Emerana TPF Noob!

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    I went to a slightly more "up-scale" chain photography studio and was chit chatting with the photographer (as she took the worst photographs of my kids EVER) and she was saying how she wanted to get a real camera for herself someday....cause she was just taught the set-ups and how to set up props (gag)....so I honestly dont think of that kind of work as being in the business. She did this all day and knew nothing about photography. She sells that junk photos after they are made.
     
  9. craig

    craig TPF Noob!

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    Of course it is really up to you. If you plan on going into retail photography it would be helpful to learn how to deal with clients. It is also important to surround yourself with photography and the arts if you plan on being in the business. Generally working out side of the arts while trying to get into the arts just gets you sidetracked. If you plan on getting into commercial/editorial photography you may be barking up the wrong tree. Commercial/editorial work is better if you can work directly within that industry by assisting or whatever.

    Love & Bass
     
  10. RyanLilly

    RyanLilly No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    This is so true. Ive know several people who have worked at the wallmart portrait studio, and other more "upscale" stand alone studios who actually used DSLRs. Everything you need to know: Strobes-fixed, camera-fixed, Aperture-always at f/11 and shutter speed-always at 1/125(usually max sync port speed) Basically boring and redundant as hell.
     
  11. Rhys

    Rhys TPF Noob!

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    The walmart near me uses a dSLR hooked up directly to a PC.

    The studio space is rented out by walmart to one of the photo chains. They don't pay much. On the other hand, it is experience of dealing with customers and it's a great place to get through your screw ups and a great way to find what people really want.

    The downside is the people you'll meet are generally not going to be wealthy clientelle. They'll be the people for whom price rules what goes on the table. Generally if you see people in clothes branded "George" (Asda/Walmart's own brand) then you can safely bet they don't have much cash.
     
  12. bhop

    bhop No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    My brother worked at a Wal-Mart one hour lab back when he was in high school.. (he's 31 now) Even back then, it was a mindless job. The machines do all the work for you, so I don't really see how it'd be helpful at anything other than collecting a paycheck.
     

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