2017 wrapped up with an exciting and busy month for me. In late November, I started a photography contract with the company promoting and coordinating the Royaume de Père Noël (Santa’s Kingdom) at several Quebec- and Ontario-based shopping malls. During my five weeks in the role, I put in nearly 40 hours worth of shifts per week as one of the four photographers who were assigned to Fairview Pointe-Claire, a mall only a few kilometres from my home in Montreal’s West Island area.
The contract began with a rather auspicious turn. The first contact I had with Promostaff offered me shifts as part of the team at Champlain Mall in Brossard, QC, more than 30 km from my home–with a daily drive to and from work that mandated negotiation of the massive construction effort that is the Turcot Interchange and Pont Champlain sites. The night I travelled to Champlain Mall for the training meeting, it took me nearly two hours to reach my destination (for which I thankfully left early enough to still be well on time). During the training, when the group of photographers all introduced themselves, a fellow there mentioned to the coordinator that he lives near the Champlain Mall, but all of his shifts were scheduled for Fairview; I immediately suggested that it might suit us both if we “traded” shifts. A quick chat with the coordinator later in the evening led to a call the next morning offering me all of my hours at Fairview.
My first day on the job was Saturday, November 25. It was “trial by fire” in terms of busy workplace. I worked both weekend shifts–the 25th and 26th–and photographed over 350 visitors with Santa Claus. I was exhausted, yet I realized the “great training” this would make: I think it remains fair to say, following the contract wrapping up on December 24, that I will rarely–if ever–be that busy on a daily basis as a photographer. Unless, of course, I work for the company again in 2018; which I will hope to do because I truly enjoyed the experience.
Shooting photos with Santa Claus is terrific. While indeed busy, there is a great deal of joy in the subject matter. For the most part, little children adore Santa Claus. Photographing this experience and capturing the moment as something to remember each year at Christmas is great. Many families came through citing their tradition of coming to the mall for photos, more than a few had little fun elements to their annual visit that included wearing “ugly Christmas sweaters” or gathering all their relatives for a group shot. Many parents were not concerned if their child cried because they realized that’s their child at this particular age.
Naturally, there are people who are less satisfied with the results, but largely when I had the chance to hear feedback I heard happy, positive things. And that’s what I want to share with readers in this, my first post.
The experience was great. I am happy that I was offered this opportunity as I take the plunge in making photography my main vocation going forward. Among the benefits of the role, as well, was that I found myself speaking French for the first time in eons. Thankfully I had started using some of the great online tools available to boost my understanding a few weeks before landing the job, and I was able to handle myself well enough to meet most of the needs of customers; and I was able to ask if they minded if I answered in English in the moments when my abilities in French were at their limits.
I have some fresh leads, already, for more photography contracts to start 2018, and I plan to continue developing the business.
Thank you for reading. I would be pleased to have you subscribe to my blog if you would like to read future posts. I hope to have something at least twice a month for now.