The Intern Experience: Part One

These first ten photos are my shots, taken this past Saturday at our latest Intern group photoshoot. These days we try to keep the numbers down to about 5 photographers to 3-4 models. Different from larger group shoots, we want to be able to spend 20-25 minutes per model/setup before rotating – instead of just 2 minutes like what happens when there are 20 photographers and just 3 or 4 models.

It’s not just a factor of spending enough time to photograph a model – but also being in the position to actually get YOUR SHOT. One of our issues with large group shoots is that everyone’s ‘settling’ for whatever shot they can get, trying not to get in everyone’s way, but at the same time trying taking good photos. This would be fine for an event – but in a group setting with your photographer friends, you’re not going to turn on your competitive drive and do ‘whatever it takes’ to get the shot. So you end up settling for sub-par positioning, and you get sub-par shots.

What we’re able to do with our Interns is have enough models, and fewer photographers – and then each photographer gets to spend 20-25 minutes with a setup. (Depending on how good I am at keeping track of the time.) Along with everything else that’s good about these shoots – is that the Interns get to spend some time directing the models – and directing subjects is something that most photographers starting out, need more practice with. Directing models is generally easier because if they’re any good at all, they’ll help out with poses – but what do you do when you’re photographing a family of normal people who don’t regularly ‘model’? It’s all on the photographer to help them out. So our Intern group shoots help give more practice and experience with that – nevermind that we’re moving towards having shoots in better locations, and with lighting to use if they’d like.

Another benefit (ha – or hindrance depending on how you look at it) – is that half the time I’m probably shooting as well – and I’m bossy. Well – what I mean is that I’m very ‘directing’ during my photoshoots. Some of our interns just need to observe and see how another photographer directs. Because with me it’s a constant stream of ideas for poses, and using methods to actually find good poses – I’m not saying that they’re all good – and in fact, most of the time I’ll hit a pose and just have to say it out loud that ‘that pose sucks, forget that idea!’ – and move on.Having photographed nearly 100 ‘sessions’ over the past year – I’ve learned that in the end, the quality of the photo is dependent upon you as the Photographer – so you better do everything you can to make your subjects look great, and to make a great photo.

Posing people + composition + camera technicals = hopefully a great photo. (hopefully).

Below are photos of the Interns photographing, holding light stands, and standing-in to test the light setup. We have about one more month to go in this three month internship. Now that Leah and I have learned a few things – we see July being even more awesome – and we’re gearing up for the next batch of 10 new interns!

Obviously it’s an unpaid internship – and we don’t force anyone to participate – even once they become interns. But the ones that make the most of their time with us are making visible progress. Three months is a short time and some of our interns have really made the most of their time with us so far. At the very least, they’ll tell you that they’ve photographed more in the last month and a half, than they did over the past year. It’s been a jump start for many of them and we’re really just warmed up at this point.

Some of our Interns have graduated with degrees in photography from SCAD and Georgia State, some are attending or about to attend SCAD – others have full time office jobs, kids, families, and crazy work hours.

What Leah and I try to do, is at the very least – give them enough opportunities to work on photoshoots with us, and then also set up photoshoots for them. We have a group calendar that all Interns can view and they can sign up for whatever events they feel like working/attending.

With the initial requirements of 1 photoshoot and 2 blog entries per week that we put on our Interns – Leah and I really put the burden on us to provide them with enough shoots + support, along with requiring them to schedule photoshoots on their own. Finding work/projects for 10 interns and organizing all of them is quite the task – nevermind also trying to run our own photography business.

It’s been really great so far, and the surprises that come up are part of what has made this so awesome.

We held a photography business/marketing class a few weeks ago because on top of all of the ‘technical’ photography skills our Interns are trying to learn – they’re also with us to learn about getting work, promotion, and marketing. Because obviously, a photographer who doesn’t know how to market themselves, isn’t going to find enough clients to keep the lights on.

While other photography ‘marketing’ and business classes might focus on nuts & bolts advice ‘Do this, Don’t do that’ – we also cover ‘how’ we come up with more effective, and creative marketing ideas. Because saying you’re a ‘photographer’ has replaced saying ‘I’m in a band’ – and these days everyone has a friend that’s a photographer – but everyone doesn’t want to hire that friend. So once your photos are of ‘good’ quality – how do you set yourself apart from all of the other photographers out there? The ones that are hardly charging anything, and will photograph anyone, anywhere, anytime?

Obviously there isn’t a magic bullet solution – it’s a multi-layered effort – but we think that the things we’re doing behind the scenes are worth passing on to our Interns. We want them to grow their client base and build their own businesses.

We have some really big projects coming up over the next few months. If you think you’re interested in working with us, and being one of our Interns – applications for our August/September/October session will be posted on Monday, July 19th and we’ll be accepting applications through that Friday, July 23rd.

Get your portfolio ready.

Photography. Internship. Atlanta.

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