Monthly Archives

April 2010

Be Ready

I would like to prepare our interns to be ready for anything. Not in a surprise-obstacle-course-challenge! kind of way – but in a we-need-a-professional-photographer-NOW-and-You-Are-It sort of way.

I wasn’t told that I was going to be taking the ‘official’ photos for Leah’s graduation ceremony until about 2 minutes before this photo was taken. This was sort of a pre-graduation ceremony that the School of Social Work was having just for their students before the actual cap & gown ceremony in two weeks.

Long story short. The hired photographer never showed up. I was there. I got the paying job.

Now I know there’s some degree of backlash against the distinction of using the term ‘professional’ photographer – like it’s a dirty word just because so many unprofessional people use it and so many actual professionals don’t. I use the term ‘professional’ because I find there are few alternatives that appropriately convey what it means to be a professional photographer. However, now is not the time for definitions. So let me tell you about this shot.

I was downstairs with all of the family members while the graduates were still in the theater supposedly taking their group photo. Five minutes later, Leah comes running up to me saying that the hired photographer never showed up and I needed to take the photos. Without blinking – Okay. No. Problem.

As I walk up the stairs I’m thinking about the lighting in the theater – and it’s normal theater lighting with lots of dark shadows everywhere except on stage. I also know that I don’t have my off camera flashes – and even if I did – I wouldn’t have time for ANY setup. These people wanted to get to their families in the lobby.

This is how it looked when I first got back in the room – straight out of the camera:

You can see the big difference in exposure levels. People on stage brightly lit – people off stage, in darkness – but it’s not that bad. I can work with this.

Now that I know I can get a usable shot – in my head I’m thinking now’s the time to at least look like a professional and direct these people into the shot that I want.

– Alright everyone, get together. Closer. You – stay on this side of the plant. You guys, lean back, but keep your necks out, shoulders down. Get closer. Squeeze in. Look right at me. If you can’t see me I can’t see you. – You, I can’t see you! – alright everyone – LOOK. RIGHT. HERE. 1.2.Three. Again.

The ‘session’ lasted about 6 minutes from start to finish. No extra lighting, no light adjustments and no tripod. You have to quickly realize what you can do – and then do what you can. For me – 98% of the time when I’m taking a photo – it’s an audition for more work. There are no excuses – if these photos were unusable, I couldn’t give everyone excuses about how I wasn’t prepared, how the lighting was really bad, how blah blah blah. They don’t care – not really – but they will care if I deliver usable photos that they might possibly like – and just maybe they’ll remember how I appeared out of nowhere, with no preparation, and immediately stepped up to get THE SHOT.

At some point, if not already, I want all of our interns to have the confidence in their abilities to do the exact same thing without flinching – and be professional photographers.

10 Interns

Last week we posted on here that we wanted two (2) interns. We presented a long list of reasons why people should want to be our intern, and then we presented a long list of reasons why they shouldn’t be our intern. Because we didn’t want just anyone. We wanted hungry photographers. Of course not a I-need-food type of hungry. No. We wanted a Rocky in Rocky II Eye of the Tiger type of hungry! (you know – when Apollo Creed convinces Rocky to train in Apollo’s old gym – where he’s like – ‘look Rocky – you see that? that’s what you’ve lost – you’ve lost the Eye of the Tiger’) – cue song by Survivor!

So we posted some initial demands:

Here’s what we’re asking from our Interns:

  • You own a DSLR camera
  • You have at least a rudimentary understanding of shutter speed and aperture
  • You have your own artistic ideas – even if you’re still working on them
  • You aren’t afraid to try everything
  • You don’t say ‘we can’t do that’
  • You are willing to photograph everything during your time with us – even if it’s not your style
  • You will actually read any materials we give you to read
  • You will be available for at least two (2) five hour photo shoots a month (and possibly more permitting your schedule)
  • You have a portfolio to show us – and you’re proud of your current work – no matter what
  • You are nice
  • You are stubborn
  • You want to learn
  • You can commit to working with us for 3 months (roughly)
  • Possibly accompany us on photo shoots/weddings out of town (on our tab)

The response we received was considerably overwhelming. We received ‘applications’ from students at SCAD (Savannah College of Art & Design), AIA (Art Institute of Atlanta) – and lots of other schools with photography programs. Not only did many college students/graduates apply – we even got some responses from relatively seasoned photographers who primarily shoot in styles different from ours. So we had to do some cutting. What better way to cut people than to just let them take themselves out of the running. So we sent more requirements to the applicants who made the first cut:

Everything below is based on the idea that as our intern – You represent Us, and We represent You. In fact, to some degree you represent our Art. So just by being our intern, you’re very closely tied to how people perceive one of the most personal things we have – our photography. As an artist yourself, you understand what that means. For us, it means that we better make sure that you actually learn something from this experience. We’d like to ensure that you grow as a photographer. Trust me – that’s a lot of pressure – and so much of it is beyond our control. So we’re going to try as hard as we can, and that means that we’re going to push you to work pretty hard – probably much harder than you thought you would, and in more areas that just taking pictures. Here’s the bullet point list:

  • 3 month commitment (with few exceptions)
  • 4 photoshoots a month – minimum of 2 with us, and then 2 on your own if not all 4 with us
  • You will be blogging the entire time
  • At least 2 posts per week, talking about the photoshoot and any other thoughts
  • If asked, you will help set up photoshoots/find models/find trampolines
  • You will edit your photos, and a small set of our photos from shoots
  • You will post to facebook, twitter, and your blog
  • You must have your own reliable transportation
  • You will not speak ill of any clients, and definitely not in print – anywhere, ever.
  • You will… trust us
  • We will earn your trust

Taking on interns is a big responsibility for us – and we take it seriously – so what if we’re a bit idealistic.

As we went through applications we realized that there aren’t too many opportunities like the one we were offering. Since Leah and I never went through any formal training – we don’t know what they have you doing in photography programs. We do get the impression that students don’t photograph nearly enough while they’re in photography school.

That’s why one of the core requirements for being our intern was that you had to do a photo shoot EVERY Week. Four a month. At least two with us and then two on your own if you couldn’t attend ones we set up or we weren’t able to find one that’s a good fit for you.

Photographers need to be photographing – otherwise they’re just people that own cameras.

We’re taking on 10 interns for a reason – we’re that busy with work – and we want more.

We started with wanting only two interns. Then we decided on six. Then we got to eight. Finally we stopped at ten – and even selecting those ten and cutting 11-15 was much more difficult than we thought it would be. And if you’re wondering how we could provide so many photo shoots for 10 interns – we wondered that too. Because you can’t bring 10 interns to a maternity session, or a newborn session – heck, you can’t even bring 3 or 4.

The logistics of first having so many photo shoots and then trying to schedule 10 interns so that they can fulfill the requirements that we set – that’s a pretty daunting task. No – it’s ridiculous. But think of everything we can do now. Just thinking about how much more we can do with 10 interns is really, really exciting. Not just 10 interns – but 10 very capable and motivated people who bring different skills to the team – skills that we need to accomplish things that we otherwise could not on our own. We selected a diverse group – photography program graduates, graphic designers, working professionals (8-5 day job!), a full time mother, a high school student, and even someone who practically lives in Tennessee (okay, more like Cumming, Georgia).

We notified everyone last Sunday that they were chosen. Since then we’ve had every intern complete various tasks already, and scheduled them for enough photo shoots to fill up May – and we’re still in April. Almost all of these shoots are paying gigs – and we’ll get more. Having 10 interns has already saved us about 30 hours of time this week since last Sunday. With something like this you need to hit the ground running. Fast. There’s a momentum that we have to keep up and we want everyone engaged.

So yes. We have 10 interns. It’s insane, and crazy, and we’re really going to push them to work hard – because we all just want to be better photographers – and believe me, if you have 10 photographers looking to you to teach them a few things over 3 months, the pressure’s on. You can’t suck. We can’t suck. After photographing at such a furious pace over the past year – we need these interns as much as they need us. It’s a huge compliment that these 10 are willing to do much more than what is normally asked during an internship. They could be doing so many other things over the next three months – but they’ll be photographing with us and that’s awesome.

If you know anything about Leah and me – we work hard at photography. We didn’t take on 10 interns because we wanted to work less – we took them on board because we wanted to work a whole lot more. We’re going to formally introduce all 10 interns and their blogs on Wednesday morning at 9am – the morning after our trampoline photo shoot on Tuesday night.

They’ll be blogging for the next three months – so there’s no hiding for them, but more importantly, there’s no hiding for us. You’re right. We’re naive and we have no idea what we’ve gotten ourselves into. Except that’s been the case all along. Hey it’s just three months right? It’s going to go very fast.

Finally – congratulations to my wife, Leah for graduating today with her Master of Social Work degree from Georgia State University. She’s a MASTER OF THE UNIVERSE! errr… Social Work!

Melissa Maples | HiddenAnatolia.com

Check Out the Gallery Here.

Our friend MelissaMaples.com lives in Antalya, Turkey. We’ve known her for… approximately… for something over six years. I think. It’s just been a really long time and we’ve never even met her in person. However, she thinks differently and we like that – we really, really like that about her and it’s one of the reasons why we think so highly of Melissa.

She’s a published author, a musician, blogger, and photographer. In fact – she’s actually one of the sources of inspiration for us in our own photography. It may be obvious, or it may not be – but we get ideas for our own shots after seeing Melissa’s photos. She’s helped us a good bit over the years with her support, motivation, and technical know-how since we’re still learning about all of this internet stuff.

Right now she’s working on a project. A great project called Hidden Anatolia. In her own words:

Most people who know anything about Turkey are only familiar with Istanbul.  While Istanbul is certainly a fantastic city worthy of attention, Turkey is so much more than just a single metropolis, and some of the most mysterious and beautiful places in the entire world lie hidden among the mountains, forests, and plains of Anatolia and Eastern Turkey.  This is a land of history, a land of challenges, and a land of breathtaking magnificence.

Those familiar with my work as a photographer and author will already know about my dedication to raising awareness of this beautiful nation and its people.  After having spent several years exploring and documenting the area of the Mediterranean coast, I feel ready to tackle the more esoteric aspects of Turkey.  There is so much more to this country than what even the most adventurous tourists get to see – it is my intention to unearth these secrets and bring them to you in the form of a beautiful coffee table book of stories and photographs, as well as a website at http://hiddenanatolia.com/ documenting the more practical aspects of the trip, updated daily from the road as events unfold.

With your help, I’ll be able to arrange extended and in-depth travel to some of the most remote parts of Anatolia and Eastern Turkey.  I’ll be able to explore and photograph everything from mysterious and unexplained ancient architecture, to isolated mountain villages where life is still much as it was a century ago.  I will also be able to provide for all the boring-but-necessary expenses, like insurance costs and equipment transport.  The more money I am able to raise, the longer I will be able to stay on the road, and the more spectacular the final product will be.

We kindly ask that you consider contributing $5 or $10 to Melissa’s project. It’s not money that disappears never to be seen again. You actually get stuff. So it’s not even really a donation since you’re actually purchasing prints.

$5 – Any contribution of $5 receives: one high-res digital photo from the trip, perfect for desktop wallpaper.

$10 – Any contribution of $10 receives: a set of five high-res photos, perfect for desktop wallpaper.

Or you can be really awesome like us and donate $100:

$100 – Any contribution of $100 receives: one beautiful, autographed print from the journey. This large wall print will be approximately 36 x 24 inches (90 x 60cm), but the exact dimensions may vary slightly depending on the aspect ratio of the shot in question.

Check out Melissa’s Project Page and contribute HERE.