Navigating a Non-linear Career Path: Insights from a Photographer

Chris Wright has volunteered his time and expertise to the participants of the Reboot Plus program, offering informational interviews to youth. He is a professional photographer based out of Burnaby, BC. He specializes in commercial, portraits, events, abstract, and landscape photography.

“I first heard about the Reboot Plus program from Tim Blake of Douglas College. We were both attending the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce breakfast networking event.”

Inspiration Ignited: A Journey into Photography

“When I look back to my childhood, I realize that I have always been interested in “details” and in the visual medium. Both of which are key in the visual arts. I started photography in my late teens with a bunch of friends as we explored and photographed the Seymour River. That first outing sparked a real interest and appreciation for photography, though in the early years it was more a means to explore and to document my travels. It wasn’t until 2019, during a weeklong photography workshop, that my passion for photography as an art was ignited. I consider it fortunate that soon after that workshop, a layoff in my previous occupation caused me to reassess my career goals. Without both the workshop and the layoff, I wouldn’t have considered photography as a career. One of the workshop instructors provided mentorship as I made the transition to professional photography, including my first client. From then, I have acquired numerous clients and diverse assignments.”

The Business of Photography: Beyond the Lens

“I work with a diverse client base, providing event photography, marketing photos, portraits, and product photography. There is more to the career than just taking photos. Bookending the actual photography are task such as marketing, networking, bookkeeping, photo editing, and skill building. The job requires a balance between taking directions for those clients that know the type of imagery they’re looking for and directing/taking charge for those without.”

“While I didn’t take any formal photography education beyond a few workshops, I was educated in the cartography business. There is an interesting parallel between map making and photography given the need to abstract real-world features onto a map, and the abstraction that occurs in photography through the choices of focal length and perspective. The education also includes applied technology knowledge which is very useful in digital photography and the related digital aspects of it.

The Fulfillment of Creativity: Finding Balance in Photography

“In a broad sense, I’m a creative person and photography provides me the means of achieving that expression. Speaking more specifically and in respect of the commercial side of my photography, I enjoy the duality of freedom and responsibility that clients entrust with me for their photography needs. It is always satisfying to see my clients using the photos I produce for them to achieve their organization’s needs!”

Mentorship: Guiding Lights Along the Way

“I believe that mentorship, both formal and informal, is an important component of any craft-based industry, which of course includes photography. I have been very fortunate to have had mentorship, both for the craft of photography and for the business side of photography. The mentorship provides invaluable knowledge on the technical aspects of photography along with industry contacts for finding prospective clients.”

Empowering the Next Generation: A Call to Action

“While a short interview isn’t enough time to gain insight in this generation, I do get the sense they are in certain ways like my generation, trying to understand what a good career would be. I would highly recommend the Reboot program to youth as it provides real-world insight in the prospective career they’re interested in. Selecting a career is certainly a challenge so having the opportunity to speak to industry contacts can assist in that decision.”

Reflections and Gratitude: A Journey Unfolds

“Mentorship is a two-way street indeed, so for myself I’ve gained the opportunity to reflect on Two people with computers benefitting from participating in informational interviews with youthmy very non-linear career path. I’m not sure how many of us really reflect on that journey, but during the Reboot program interviews, it does make you think on that. All of which makes you more aware of who you are as a person, as a photographer, and as a small business owner. Each contact I’ve had has provided a good level of support and guidance, which makes it easy and enjoyable to participate. Keep doing the good work for the youth and next generation!”

With funding from the Government of Canada’s Future Skills Centre, we are examining whether a hope-centred education and career development program can help youth find their purpose. Students in our program are vulnerable youth aged 17 to 24 who have not finished high school and do not have a plan for their future. Our 16-week program helps participants identify their values, personality, interests and skills, meet with professionals and develop an education and career action plan.

Le projet Reboot Plus est financé par le Centre des Compétences futures du gouvernement du Canada.