Don’t Talk to my Trainees

“So how’s the blogging going?” Says my Supervisor with his usual smirk.

“I’m not doing much blogging these days.” I say with a shrug. “I think I’ve run out of things to say.”

The two Trainees, who are kids in their twenties, look at me as if they were not completely sure I was a loser, but now they are.

One of the Trainees has been at it for three weeks-she will be on her own soon.  Watching her take portraits I have to admit that The Supervisor has done a good job teaching her the basics-with a few minor exceptions.  The details can always be tweaked later, as long as you have a solid foundations to start from.

I tend to talk to my fellow Photographers much as I talk here-I like to tell my war stories and warn people not to get their hopes too high and talk about which Passers I like and so on and so forth.  Of course, the FNGs get the Good Shoots to train in and will often have Good Shoots for at least the first few weeks they are out.  A case in point being that I worked at this Shoot for one day-and the Trainee is working there a full week, after working there for two or three other full weeks.  While I have worked one day here and one day there.

The Trainees were pretty young women and I will likely never see them again.  They will either quit in a few months when they get enough Bad Shoots under their belts or we will just never work together again.  Photographers seldom work together, which is why it was kind of fun to talk to the Newbies and talk about the usual State of The Company with the Supervisor.

It’s all but impossible for me not to talk to the Trainees, not to offer a bit of advice here and there-but just a bit.  The Supervisor didn’t want them hanging around my Camera Room, as they would pick up bad habits from me-and I also have a Studio that is pretty different from the one they will be using.  I still tend to shoot a bit too quickly and take a couple of poses that are not exactly what The Company wants.

There were a lot of Little Old Ladies and Little Old Men at this shoot, I ended up shooting most of them as the Trainee was pretty slow.  I also let her have most of the families as she needed more practice with groups.  The bottom line being that she shot half as many sets and still make more money than I did.

The Company, of course, sees everything do they as correct.  The Plan seems to be to drive off all the Old Timers, and a good deal of them are now gone.  Those of that remain are skill waiting for the return of The Good Old Days-which, of course, will never happen.

The Company likes to lie to Trainees.  They tell them that they will make $70,000 a year and they all jump for joy.  It doesn’t take too many of those $700 paycheck for two weeks of Shooting to let them figure out that maybe they won’t quite be getting that 70 grand a year after all.

We all tend to fall into our own little patterns, some of these are good, some not so good.  One of the bad things about working alone, like, all the time, is that you never see what anyone else is doing.  The only people I see are the Supervisors and I have little use for their advice-and I don’t have any interest in seeing them Shoot either.  No, I want to see the other working Photographers and what they do.  So it was kind of fun to watch the Trainee doing her plain vanilla bit with the families and the Supervisor trying to spice it up once in a while.

I’ve always hated the way The Company trains it’s Photographers.  They spend three or four weeks with One Photographer and learn the Basics.  Then, after a few weeks of shooting, one of the Supervisors is supposed to swing by and teach them a couple of new poses-maybe some new lighting or new backgrounds.  What often happens is that the Trainees have had all the training they want and once they are on their own, they just want to keep doing what they have always done.  I know that I like trying new things, but I seldom like the new things The Company thinks I should be doing.

I’ve always thought that everyone should be a Trainer-at least for a few days.  After a couple of weeks of getting the Basics down, the Trainee should them float around and watch every Photographer in the district.  We all have one or two poses that we do really well, and we are often the only Photographer doing a certain shot consistently.  So let the Trainee go around and collect the poses that they like-virtually any pose will sell at a Good Shoot, so why not have a set of poses that they enjoy doing?

But The Company is so afraid that we will ruin the Trainees, that they don’t want any of us anywhere near them.  The Supervisor didn’t want me to offer any suggestions, he didn’t even want the other Supervisor offering any suggestions.  This is fine, he want the Trainee to do exactly what The Company currently wants to do.  The rub, of course, is that The Company will want us to do something else before too long.  They always do.

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