Their easy banter was typical of their relationship, of her increasing self-confidence and of his pleasure at her contribution to the business.
‘Mel, Dad and I were talking over the weekend,’ he said, ‘about your progress since you started. You clearly no longer need to refer customers to me when they ask questions about kit you don’t know well – you know as much as I do now. These days there are even customers who come in specifically to see you rather than me. You’re great with people. Well done!’
‘Aw, Jamie,’ she said, blushing, ‘Thank you – and thanks for all the support you’ve given me.’
‘Well,’ he said, ‘that’s one of the things I wanted to talk to you about.’
‘Two things,’ he went on, ‘Firstly, we trust you enough now to be able to say that you can regard your probationary period as over. Sick pay and holiday pay for your annual entitlement are now part of your contract officially. Dad will record that in your personal staff record.’
‘Fantastic!’ she said, ‘I’ll take next week off then.’
‘Seriously?’ he asked, surprised.
‘Don’t be daft,’ she said, ‘Just kidding.’
‘Thank God for that,’ he said, ‘but if you let us know in advance, Lucy will be able to sort out a way to provide cover. Okay, moving on. You’ve seen a couple of the posters we’re planning to send to our regular customer Group about Sunday and weekend outings, haven’t you?’
She nodded. ‘Yes, they look interesting. I wish that I could go on something like that sometime.’
‘Well, that’s the thing,’ he said, ‘Would you like to come on the one at Malhamdale, four weeks on Sunday? To get a feel for what goes on? You already know most of the customers we’re inviting, but it will also allow you to get to know the brand manager of one of our key suppliers. You’ll be paid, of course.’
‘God, Jamie! That would be amazing,’ she said, ‘I love Malham anyway, and the chance to see what the weekends involve – that would be a real bonus. Oh, thank you so much.’
‘Don’t get too excited,’ he said, ‘It might be pissing down with rain. We’ll be hiring a small coach to get us there but we can’t control the weather. Are you a fair-weather only photographer?’
‘That would be a contradiction in terms. Some of the most dramatic shots are taken on windy, snowy or rainy days. Fast moving clouds, huge waves, reflections in pavement puddles – you don’t find those if you hide indoors.’
So a possible pessimistic forecast did nothing to dampen Mel’s enthusiasm which was boosted still further when Jamie told her that both he and his dad were hoping that, once she got the hang of it, she’d be able to deputise for him and to work solo if needed.
She had one question remaining. She asked if it might be possible to borrow one of the shop’s demo cameras to take some photos of her own. She explained that she was still saving up for one particular combination of camera and lens.
‘Listen, Mel,’ he said, ‘you’ll be representing the shop. We’ll be lending you a top of the range camera, lenses, tripod, filters etc., and a backpack. What would it look like if we sent you out to promote business if all you had with you was your little smartphone?’
Mel couldn’t believe it.
‘One more thing,’ Jamie said, ‘We’re hoping that you’ll be bringing back some amazing shots to showcase in our gallery. You’ll keep the copyright, and what else you do with them is up to you. However….’ He paused again, ‘It’s possible, if some of your shots are up to it, that we could get a joint article with the supplier published in one of the key monthly photography magazines. You might need to work with one of their journalists and with the supplier’s PR people on the copy. We’d be wanting you to get full credit but we’d like a mention. The supplier will obviously want to get maximum publicity.’
‘They wouldn’t want photos of me though, would they?’ she asked, looking at him anxiously.
‘You must be joking, Mel,’ he said, ‘photos of a photographer who looks as good as you will almost guarantee acceptance by any magazine. Please say that you’ll agree.’
Mel looked doubtful.
‘I won’t have to flash any flesh will I?’ she asked.
Jamie roared with laughter.
‘What, while, scrambling on Malham Cove or Gorsdale Scar in the rain?’ he asked, ‘No, Mel. First principle is that you’re not public property – no photos without your consent. Secondly, the article will be about landscape photography. There are usually context shots, where front and centre will be the ‘product’ – camera, lens, tripod filter holder and so forth.’
He walked across the shop, picked out a magazine from the rack and brought it across. He opened it, found the article he wanted and showed it to her as an example.
‘The subject, as you can see, will be the scenery, but what will make it, will be the person taking the shot – you in this case. The focus will be on the images the magazine people choose from those that you took. They’ll want amazing tack sharp shots that convey excellence and they’ll want to provide details of the kit you used and your settings. They’ll want their readers to see if they can take shots like that.’
‘Oh! That doesn’t sound so bad,’ she said, ‘In fact it sounds quite exciting.’
‘Other than what I’ve said,’ he told her, ‘the magazine will also want some human interest, so they’ll probably want to know something about you – your history as a photographer – we hope you’ll showcase your experience in the shop We’ll provide you with a tee-shirt advertising us. Would you mind?’
‘Of course not,’ she said, I’m proud of working here. I wouldn’t have had the chance without you. I can’t wait.’
For the remainder of the day in the shop, she found it difficult to think of anything else. She couldn’t wait to tell her mum and dad.
Staying in my local park on 28 April. Today’s photo shows a squirrel deciding whether to hide or not.
I used my Pentax KP 24 MM cropped sensor camera with a Pentax 28-105 mm f/3.5 to 5.6 lens. The EXIF data were shutter speed was 1/25 seconds at f/6.3 and 105 mm. The shot was handheld. I post-processed the shot in Lightroom.