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Shooting for a Living

Alumni Feature

Graduate. Check. Get first job. Check. But, for two of CAT’s recent Professional Photography grads, it didn’t necessarily happen in that order!

Recent CAT Professional Photography graduates Georgia Field and Elizabeth Corbett have already obtained those oh-so-important first jobs! Even better, they were already working for Mountain West Studios before they even graduated. We caught up with Georgia and Elizabeth to find out all about it.

CAT: Tell us a bit about Mountain West Studios.

EC: Mountain West is based out of Burnaby offering school day photos, graduation photos, studio portrait/headshots and family photography.

GF: Since 1980 Mountain West has built a solid reputation as a quality provider of school portraits in Western Canada. They send photographers out to schools so that every year each student has at least 2 professional photos taken, and those photos can then be ordered by parents etc. Mountain West Studios also does the grade 12 grad photos as well.

Mountain West Studios gives CAT Grads First Jobs
Mountain West Studios Gives Two CAT Professional Photography Grads Their First Jobs!

CAT: What will you be doing for them?

GF: I am a school day photographer, I show up at 7:30 am to my location with my kit that they assigned me. Once the crew has arrived we set up usually in the gym of the school we are shooting for that day. The goal is to take photos of all students and staff in the school in one day. So I usually take hundreds of kids’ photos in a day. Thankfully I don’t have to worry about any editing.

Each day the location Is different and the local spots could be anywhere from Osoyoos to Salmon Arm, out of town locations I go to will be places like Nakusp and Nelson.

EC: I will be travelling around the Okanagan and West Kootenay area taking school day photos for students from K-12.

CAT: How did you find out about this job?

GF: I Heard about this job from Victor Poirier, Department Head of Professional Photography at CAT during class.

EC: Victor recommended this job to me and helped me connect with the territory manager.

CAT: What about the job interested you?

GF: I thought this would be a really great way to set myself off into the industry upon graduation. I wasn’t quite ready to start working for myself just yet. This was a great opportunity to start full-time work right away and create some really good habits. Plus I get paid to travel around BC a little bit so I thought that would be pretty cool.

EC: This job is a great opportunity to get photography experience especially while following specific instructions when it comes to composition, posing and lighting.

CAT: What key things are involved in doing this kind of photography? And what are the biggest challenges?

GF: It’s quite repetitive and fast-paced. The biggest challenge is trying to get moody teenagers to smile! You have to make a connection with a kid and get the best photo you can out of them within only a few seconds. This can be challenging but you learn the skills to help pretty quickly.

EC: The most important skill required for this position is effective communication. Sometimes students are easy to talk to and follow directions smoothly while other times they are not.

My biggest challenge so far has been communicating and posing suggestions to students who do not want to be there, are deaf or cannot speak English and still trying to give them a positive experience.

CAT: What do you really like about doing this type of photography?

EC: I like this work because two days will never be the same. I am always meeting new people and putting my problem-solving skills to the test.

GF: I enjoy observing all the different characters I might come across in a single day. I enjoy being around kids. And at the end of the day, the job is done!

CAT: How many projects have you done so far, and what have they included?

GF: So far I have been to three schools in Salmon Arm, Vernon and Kelowna.

EC: So far, I have been to six different schools with Mountain West.

CAT: What skills from your courses at CAT do you feel helped you to get the job?

GF: Definitely my lighting classes and learning how to take headshots has helped a lot. I feel confident in the images I have taken so far and I know how to tell when an image looks incorrect and why.

EC; The most skills in this job that I received at CAT would be effective communication with a subject, efficiency in setting up photography equipment and basic troubleshooting which I now use daily.

CAT: What top tips do you have for other students at CAT? And for those about to graduate?

EC: I would say to keep working hard and opportunities will come your way. My biggest takeaway from CAT is that my goals are not as far off as I once thought they were.

GF: Leave with an open mind and don’t put too much pressure on yourself! Keep following your passion and keep creating!

CAT: How does it feel to already have your first job?

EC: Pretty damn good. It is taking some time to get used to the early mornings but I could not be happier, it feels like a big weight has been taken off my shoulders.

GF: It’s really great to have this lined up for my first few months after graduation. I was planning to work full-time in a kitchen to save up for a while and this definitely beats that!