A long time coming but……
To my family, here is what my first full day on the job consisted of, purely from my point of view just to give you the vibe of how my days will go.
I was picked up this morning from the Helensvale Station at 7:30 am after leaving and completely moving out of Surfer’s Paradise, and the Islander, at 6:00 am. Dragging my luggage to the tram and then a short bus ride was a drag this morning and prohibited me from grabbing coffee. Needless to say it was tough to be positive this morning and I was nervous about going to a new studio, with new people and encountering another overload of information.
I was picked up by Aoife, an Irish named pronounced EE- FA, and Meggan, pronounced MEE – GAN. I was a bit shy at first as I put my luggage in the trunk of her red manual car. We had to drive roughly 45 minutes to Ipswich where Studio One is located in Booveal Mall. They jokes a bit but I think they were less chatty due to it being an early morning.
Work for me starts at 8:30 unless it is a Monday where we are “Bumping In” which means that we have just arrived at a new location and need extra time to set up – these morning will be 7:30 am. This will be about every other Monday, but today was Tuesday so we just had to set up the equipment instead of having to move everything from the trailer into the mall. The first thing we do is unlock the “Box” which is the box the kids sit on and is our prime studio shooting area – it is about two feet high and five or six feet wide. In the box are our five lights and rods. There is the main light, fill light, brown light, white light and hair light. The main light is our biggest and is to the left of the box shining towards the kids faces. The brown and white are on the left of the box too (when I am looking at it) and the white is higher than the brown. The fill light is on the left hand side of the box but half the size of the main and the hair light is a long rectangle above the box. Did you get all that? Yeah… I understand your pain, it is definitely something I will need to do a few times to get the hang of.
As for props and set up – we have three background colors: brown, black and white (used in that oder everytime. There are three “floors” or mats that we have too which are all different colored wooden textures – the only ones we don’t use those floors for is the white background which we pull long and over the box so the kids can sit on it – this makes for white backdrop and white floors.
So each child gets 3 wide shots and 3 up close shots with 2 different poses per prop and 2 props per background – how about that one, did you get that? That is the “formula” that I am barely just getting a hold of. The props are more difficult to describe. We shoot for children ranging from newborns to 12 years old. So we have vintage, rustic seats, boxed, pales, tutus, tubs, wraps, headbands, blankets, sailboats, pearls, birdcages, etc. This is where it gets more difficult – and depends on the creative edge of the photographer. I am a MATH person my friends, very black and white, so this may be the most difficult part for me but I think there is definitely a lot to learn and some room to grow.
As for positions (I promise this will all come together – or rather I hope), we have four: Photographer, Assistant Photographer and two PRs. The Photographer is holding the camera, taking the shots and helping with choosing the props, headbands, etc. while making sure the lighting is right and helping with kid’s smiling where needed. The Assistant Photographer is doing more of the prop choices – the “styling” – and moving the kids to their proper poses to account for the light, their features, etc. and are responsible for the smiles. We get the skies with some bubbles, toys, feathers, peekaboo and high fives with high pitched voices. This was intimidating at first but has grown fun and forces me to be much more outgoing! The PR reps explain to the mothers what we do, i.e. free photo shoot, free 5×7 photo, put into a drawing for 10,000 dollars AND takes about 20 minutes in entirety…. They then help them fill out a one page quick information sheet. After that, the PR’s pick out the outfits, there are probably 40 total that we have on set and they change the child. While the shoot is happening or in between changing a child the PR is responsible for entertaining the mother and filling out paperwork as the shoot goes – which is just jotting notes about the props used. Towards the end we set up an appointment for the parent to come back and look at all the photos we have taken about three weeks from the date of the shoot. During that time they meet with a sales rep who shows them the photos, packages and explains payment options if they choose to purchase anything – they are not obligated to buy anything. If they
choose not to then they receive their free photo and are free to go!
The catch, you ask?? All of these positions need to be interchangeable. Some days there will be only three people and during breaks there may be a Photographer that needs to be covered.
Now, today I did two shoots: one with three sibling girls aged 7, 5 and 8 months and the other was of a 9 year old girl. I was terrified. These are photos people are going to purchase (maybe) and the company is dependent on these purchases in the long run so I wanted to do them justice. After looking at my shots afterwords, I was happy with them but I know that with time I will improve. The assisting, which I did most of the day was hard too though because I want the props to match, look nice, fit with the outfit and then to get the kid to smile… sometimes that is the most taxing part of the job. PRing is difficult but less stressful for sure. I haven’t done so much PRing but I do need to work on that too with the paperwork.
For the end of the day, we put all of the lights back and the props on the box, locked up and left. We work Mondays – Saturdays with one day off during the week. On Saturdays we work till 4 not 5 and on Thursdays we work till 6 or 7 not 5. Thursdays in Australia are “late shopping nights” so all malls stay open longer. Malls seem to close early every other day of the week, for example today most stores closed at 4:30 which is strange.
Kristin and I will be together with Lauren Sullivan and Amy. Lauren is one of the girls I road tripped to Byron Bay to this weekend and she is from England. I am really excited that we may be able to all three stay together since we get along well! The fourth girl is Amy, from Scotland, and I met her during my trail day last Thursday. She is a sweetheart and very good with PRing. Lauren is a bit behind Kristin and I in training since she was hired after us and is primarily doing PRing I think. This worries me a bit because if it is only us – I am the only one who has shot any photos. Kristin has done all PRing and some assisting. I don’t feel confident enough to be the main Photographer just yet. There also has to be a Studio Manager of the four of us (NOTE we are very NEW – not sure what they are thinking) and Carly, the HR and coordinator of the studios, mentioned that it will be the strongest of the four of us and I am not sure who that will be. Kristin did drive the company car by herself today back home as we were at different studios training.
Finally, the rumor is that the four of us will be headed to the West Coast next weekend, my birthday :). They will fly us over there and we will pick up the car and trailer to head to our first ever location as a team! We may not be in Perth straight away but will move along the coast, tentatively we will be off for holiday from December 4th – January 4th.
JUST IN: I arrived at the staff accommodation this morning and it is the nicest, glamorous, modern home on the block :). So nice with about four bedrooms, a pool first and second floor deck, large tiled floors everywhere, a projector for a TV in the first floor living area, a bar on one deck and I AM JUST WOWED. I will snap some photos later. Kristin and I just watched the Millers and threw in Garden State for a movie night with quesadillas. We will head to bed shortly for another early morning and training tomorrow, lots of love Xx
New words?? Here are some 🙂
Larry – angry (He got really larry about me jumping ahead of him in line)
Mint – really awesome/sweet
I am sitting in Crema Espresso posting this about 20 minutes before work so I apologize about the grammatic mistakes and misspellings 🙂 we are headed to a free boxing class after work (Lauren, Amy, Kristin and I – the four of us are going to the West Coast off on our own traveling studio this Sunday! A happy birthday to me for that free trip :))