The Photos Unlimited Portrait Studios are located in various locations such as Walmart and Sears. The studio that I work at is located at 2160 Burnhamthorpe Rd. W near the entrance of Walmart and South Common mall. This studio provides photos for baby passports, permanent residence, citizenship, and travel visa which can be sold digitally or as a physical copy. Family portraits are also offered for holidays or just simple shots which can be printed in various sizes and ways like metal print, on a canvas, or as greeting cards. They also offer OLP(on location photography) which is when a customer books an appointment for a photographer to go to the location of their choice and have a photo shoot with family or friends.
Positions in the South Common Mall Photos Unlimited Portrait Studio
Responsibilities at the placement
Answering the phone
This task is difficult at times because I may not always understand what the customer is asking or they may not understand my explanation, in cases like that, I would pass the phone to a co-worker who can help.
Shoot passport and immigration photos
Taking pictures was/is a challenge for me because I could never tell if the camera was straight or not, after some tries and fails, I learned and am still learning how to take the picture according to the regulations and specifications for passport pictures. For baby passports its a real struggle because they either cant sit still because they're too energetic or they're sleeping and wont look at the camera.
Processing photo and trimming
After I take the passport picture or someone else does and they ask me to print the picture, I put the memory card used in the camera and trim the picture to size in order for it not to get rejected for whatever reason (head size too big, the printer left a mark on the persons face). Processing the picture in the printer is very important for the customer to not have their picture rejected. When its done printing, I take the picture to the trimmer and the lines on the border help me cut a straight line.
Organizing the back room
In order for the photo sessions with families and groups, the backroom has to have accessibility, that means having all the different props in their proper boxes and having enough space around the camera for the customers to move around. It gets messy when there are people or big groups coming in and out of the back room. So its part of my job to make sure it stays clean and tidy for the other photographers to use next.
Outreach is when me and/or the other co-op student go out into Walmart and talk to the customers about our special offers and even coupons they can receive. It's very awkward walking up to someone while they're shopping and talk to them but i think its a very good opportunity to make a connection with potential customers.
This definitely comes in handy when I'm calling customers to inform them that their packages/pictures are ready to be picked up. When I've finished printing and trimming the photos and I ask whoever is at the front desk if the customer payed so I don't make the mistake of giving them a "free" passport picture without paying.
The use of labels and signs is very usefeul in a place as small and busy as the studio, so labels for the prop boxes makes my day a lot easier and quicker.
This skill is important when I'm helping to organize the packages when they arrive at the studio. I usually help with organizing the packages numerically so when the customers come in and ask for their pictures, we can easily find them because we had organized them before.
A typical week at the studio is normally taking passport pictures, printing and trimming them to size. There's the occasional family photo session but for the most part it's passports. Around 2 or 3, because people normally leave work, I go out into Walmart and do outreach. Talking to people about our offers and deals for the upcoming holidays.
When I first started my placement I was scared that I wouldn't be able to communicate with the customers because I'm a reserved person and don't really like talking to strangers. After a while, it started becoming fun just talking to the customers while their photos printed. Acting silly so the babies/kids would look into the camera, it's really fun to take pictures of people, even if it's just for passports. I've watched my supervisor do group sessions since I'm not allowed to do them, I've learned quite a bit from her.
I've learned to be patient with the customers because sometimes they don't know what they want, or don't know how to put it into words. Sometimes they don't speak fluent English and need help, which happened to me once and I ended up helping the nice lady in Spanish because she didn't know how to explain it in English.
I've been using my course expectations on my PPLP in order to work at my job safely and effectively. An expectation listed was to Identify the essential skills and how they have developed through school, extracurricular,and'or community experiences. I think that it's very important for people to use these skills even if they don't realize it because it can make a huge difference in life. I'm using this expectation in my co-op placement as listed in the essential skills list.