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Intern Experience | S3 Reviews Part 2

23 Jan ’11

“Write as much as you would like to say, and whatever you’d like to say. I will not censor or edit your reviews (except for spelling/grammar) – and if I do post your review, I will post it in it’s entirety, or not all. This internship isn’t perfect – and we know it – so write what you’d like.” – Mark

(Check out S3 Reviews Part 1 – Here.)

Well here we are, at the end of the shortest three months in my life. I started this internship with major doubts, and I don’t mean the doubts were mine, because they weren’t. They were everyone else’s, everyone else who didn’t understand what this internship would pay me that couldn’t be held in my hands or put in a bank account. They understand, now.

I feel better about both myself and my photography. Though there were times during the internship when I felt it was hopeless and I should just go find a 9-5 office job {I shudder to remember, and luckily, it happened just the once}, I stuck it out and I’m so glad I did.

There were also times when I just “didn’t get it,” whatever “it” was at the time. I tried, and I tried, and I tried to do what I had been taught, tried so hard I limited myself to only doing EXACTLY as I had been told. And then I realized: I don’t need to be doing exactly what I’d been told, I needed to take the advice and work with it and use it in such a way that applies or speaks to me. And then things just clicked. For years I had been doing exactly what I thought I should, what everyone else was doing, despite how I felt about the situation. Which is so funny, because that’s exactly who I don’t want to be, and it felt wrong the whole time, and now I know why. But now I understand, and I’m doing things my way, and it just feels so right.

There are things I would recommend for improvement, though they’re not very many in number. I wish we had done more shoots as a family {well, you know what I mean} and I wish we had played with external lighting a little more. And when I say that, I think I mean, “I wish I had asked to be talked to about external lighting a little bit more.” Because, as you may well know, asking is the key, here. You will not be handed anything in this internship, which is probably why it’s so great.

When asked what I wanted to get out of this internship, I said “I want to feel like I’m worth my asking price.” When asked what I liked about their pictures, I told Leah & Mark that, “I like how you guys get the shots that other people would miss. I like how you guys don’t seem afraid. How you know how things will turn out. Your confidence, which shows in the images. I like the softness of them. And there’s something else I just can’t put my finger on, but I like it.”

Here at the end of the program, I feel like I’m worth my asking price. I feel like I nailed down a style that’s distinctly me with influences of those who inspire me. I feel like I’ve improved in leaps and bounds. I feel like I know what I’m doing {well, most of the time}. I feel like a “real” photographer. And I feel like I’m ready to graduate, though I don’t plan on letting go any time soon.

Raven – (http://www.Ideal-Photography.com)

Before I get into the nitty-gritty, I would like to say thank you. Thank you Leah + Mark for opening yourselves and your business practices up for others to learn from. Thank you for taking a chance on and believing in each of us. Thank you for making us accountable and giving us opportunities to grow, discover, build, and improve.

It has been an enlightening ride from the workshop classes to teamed shoots to photographing events. I can’t say I would have accomplished all that I have over the past three months without the accountability of this internship. From the end of October to this very moment, I can confidently attest, from first hand experience, to the following:

  • - A little practice can go a long way. If you don’t believe that practice makes perfect, then you probably haven’t practiced much. It’s very possible to learn more by doing than by thinking about doing.
  • - The idea of perfection is wholly objective. Decide what YOU want to say and say it with your photos, there is no right or wrong.
  • - Compose in camera rather than in post.
  • - Gear is gear. Don’t let it hold you back.
  • - Lighting magic requires more than one attempt, but it can and will happen. And don’t forget about the least expensive / greatest light source of all; the sun.
  • - Talk to the models. They aren’t just pretty faces, so make them feel at ease. And tell them what you are looking for.
  • - Every experience is worth something. Don’t give in to frustrations.
  • - If you are going to freak out, freak out on the inside, not the outside. No one will know but you.
  • - Questions aren’t stupid. Ask them.
  • - Plan for the unexpected. Anything can happen. No, really.
  • - Start earlier. You’ll have more light and more time.
  • - If everyone is going right, turn left. You can always make the block to catch up if need be.
  • - Stop thinking. Stop over thinking. Take the shot.

For suggestions on how to make the Intern Experience “better,” I think adding some structured shoots could be beneficial [think: Power Portraits assignment]. By setting an objective, focusing on an area of improvement, or style [composition or lighting or posing/directing], I think interns will be able to experience, feel, and notice a progression in their work as all these elements build upon each other and work together to make photo magic.

Also, I think having a critique once a month would be helpful. Being able to talk about your / other interns work in a critique-like setting will build confidence and provide a better understanding of why / how that photo was taken / blogged about. Consciously knowing what you did or did not do is valuable to the learning experience. It makes you actually stop, think, and process instead of blindly going through the motions.

At one point I told Mark that I don’t ever want to not be an intern. He just laughed and said that wouldn’t be possible. So now I am exiting this internship knowing that I took advantage of all the opportunities I possibly could have and that I made the most out of this three month experience with my fellow Season Three Interns [who are awesome!] and Leah + Mark.com.

Niki – (www.stellaandlux.etsy.com)

The First Day Of The Rest Of My Life

My experience as an intern for LeahAndMark.com has been an incredibly rich one. I can truly say that I never learned so much in such a short span of time. Where do I start? I guess at the beginning. To be honest I really didn’t know exactly what I was getting into when I got started with this internship. I knew I wanted to pursue photography, I just wasn’t sure how that would manifest in my life. Coming in from a long, frustrating day of carpentry my brother casually said, “Hey have you heard about these photographers LeahAndMark? They have an internship, you should apply” I don’t think I even looked up. “send me the link” I replied. Not thinking much of it either way. That night I went to my mailbox and “clicked” on the link.

I was blown away with what opened up. Wow. These photos were really cool, and different. They had an honesty to them that I connected with and both Leah and Mark’s personalities spoke through words and photographs. I was hooked. I think I emailed Mark right away. “I want to be your intern! How do I apply?” The next day I received an answer back. “Application is on the website, we are picking new interns in a week” With that I got busy. The learning started immediately.

You see, I had never put together a portfolio of my work (I had over 10,000 on my computer and boxes of prints and negatives) much less wrote about or defended my work. The application process made me do both. I went to work and got my application in – and I made the first cut. I answered the 2nd round essay questions (what? more!) on Sunday morning, just making the deadline. On Monday (I think) I got the news. I was selected! Then the fear shot through me. These guys were asking for a commitment. These guys were asking me to blog in public. These guys were asking me to show my work in public. I had decided that this was the path I wanted to embark on. I then decided that with LeahAndMark I would take my first steps towards what I have ultimately wanted to do with my life. I quit my then full time carpentry job, much to the chagrin of my meathead boss and just jumped off into the unknown. What a gift.

Since then my life has revolved around photography. I do not say that lightly. If you don’t have much free time or have a demanding significant other, I am not sure this is for you. The first night I stayed up through the night trying to edit shots that just were not there! I am a painfully slow typer (believe it or not) and my knowledge of blogging, resizing, photos ect. — was primitive. That being said, I was hooked from the beginning.

My photography has been shot into outer space. The main thing I want to convey is you are going to get out it, what you put into it. This is the truth. They are straight forward and tell you they ask for a lot. Believe them. I said “yes” to everything that was presented to me. I attended every workshop and I am thrilled with the way my photography has grown. Every shoot I said, “Yes” there was multiple lessons learned. I shoot with multiple strobes now, I shoot only in RAW, I always shoot manual, and I look for shots in everything I do. I view the world in a different way. Mark has taught me how to get the most out of my outdated camera and kit lens. Once I got over the fact that my gear was not as good as others. I saw I could still take awesome pictures. Speaking of gear. Mark will show you exactly what to get and in a thrifty manner.

I think my favorite thing about this internship, besides my photography vastly improving was the other interns. I feel I have a built in network of people who are as serious about their photography as I am or even more so! Season 3 was loaded with extremely talented photographers. Some of them with their own businesses, some in photography schools, and some that just want to grow as photographers. ALL were SERIOUS about the craft. I was worried about how I wouldn’t fit in as the only male (boo-hoo) and not a really accomplished photographer. There were no problems and information flowed freely. I hope to keep in touch with my fellow interns and am excited to continue growing with them. There was healthy competition in the air and we grew with one another. It was so cool watching others grow.

Not only do LeahAndMark teach you how to use a camera but Mark’s marketing workshop opened my eyes to the fact that it is possible to be successful in this field and showed me how to do it. If you read my blogs, I told you how to do it too. What sets this apart from other internships is the unguarded information that flows from LeahAndMark. Every shoot Mark showed you exactly how he did things and why.

I think as with anything there is always room for improvement. I would not be doing LeahAndMark any service if I did not say a few things that I believe may make the internship stronger. For me, I had a terrible time with editing photos (still am!) The editing class flew by and I mostly watched Mark fly through how he edits his photos while not retaining hardly any of it! I attempted photoshop but it was such a time consuming endeavor it came to the point of just staying in Aperture 3 and editing there. I feel that my editing has not grown very much at all and it is frustrating watching others grow in this area, while my photos have really not changed too much editing wise. Time is another area where Mark just could not serve everybody and that is understandable; but at times I felt, “Favorites” were given more attention than others and I think sometimes it was a little unfair. Hey such is life. I am sure I will find my photoshop lesson soon and my editing style will grow alongside my photography. Mark is a busy guy, he works fast – if you don’t and if you are timid you probably need to change that! I need to also add that I am really not computer savvy, so teaching me Photoshop in such a short time could be a bit unrealistic. I just feel liked I asked more than once in this area to no avail. Other than that the only other real complaint is that it is just too dang short. I love LeahAndMark. I really am sad it is ending. I mean really.

It has been a incredible opportunity that I feel is not offered anywhere else anywhere. I feel like this is about more than just photography. It is about life. It is about anything is possible if you are willing to work for it. Both Leah and Mark are amazing human beings. I love being around them. Their positive energy is contagious and I hope to stay close to them in the future. For me, deciding to do this has been truly one of the greatest decisions I have ever made. I hope this is only the beginning of the path not the end.

If you are serious about your photography, if you are brave enough, if you are accepted, you would be doing yourself a disservice not to jump in with us.

If you’re anything like I was before I began my internship with Leah and Mark (i.e. white balance?… what’s that do??…. or.. receivers, and triggers, and strobes…huh??) then this is definitely something for you! When I started this internship 3 months ago, the questions I just mentioned were very real and are now almost embarrassing to think about. BUT, I wouldn’t be capable of feeling this way had I not learned the answers to these and many others along the way (some of which I knew I had coming in and MANY others I never knew to ask).

Even before day one (because I shot with Mark before our new intern introduction night) I was learning something about myself, my camera, technique, composition, etc. All I knew before coming into all of this was, “I have a swank new digital camera which I know very little about and the manual for it is…..somewhere in this house……hmmm….., I have an open mind, and I have no idea where all of this is going to take me.” After the internship, my internal dialogue sounds more like, “I have a great tool to help me accomplish my artistic goals as a photographer and I DO know how to use it and what that ‘wb’ tab means :) (and I still never read the manual), my mind is still very open because I still have a lot to learn, and I have a much better idea of where I would like to go as a photographer after I leave the internship.”

This has truly been a tremendous growing experience; not only on the photographic level, but also so much on a personal level. I have been supported and encouraged by Leah, Mark, Niki, Brett, Raven, Amanda, Megan, Sonya, Brittany, and Carrie to degrees I never expected! This has truly felt like a second family unit and I would not have made it as far as I did without all of them! So, to each and every one of them, THANK YOU!

To those reading the intern reviews and wondering what to expect from the Leah and Mark Internship, I have compiled a list (because who doesn’t appreciate a list after reading long paragraphs :) ) of things that I took away from this whole experience in hopes that it may give you a more clear idea of what happens in the world of LeahandMark.com in 3 months:

1 . Always expect Mark to want coffee (or some sinfully sweet concoction of sugar and caffeine from Starbucks) at most morning shoots…..heck, even the night shoots.
2 . Never think that you can determine what a shoot is going to be like because it will never be what you think….leave all expectations at the door…it’s more fun this way!
3 . You will learn to let go of self-doubt. Being better is being more confident behind your lens and the more you shoot and experiment, the better this gets…..if you let it.
4 . You will laugh… A LOT
5 . You will cry (and that may have just been me..ha), get frustrated, angry….a lot….but again, this is natural and it is best to try and steer those emotions into more positive channels to get better photos by the end of your shoots.
6 . You will have never-ending support…..if you have questions…just ask. Mark won’t always communicate what is on his mind, but he will always answer any question you throw his way; he will always respond and help you out. Leah is always there to talk to…no matter what!! You fellow interns will almost always have similar issues,questions, hesitations, etc. and they will understand exactly where you are coming from….so, if you are freaking out, talk it out! They’re there for you! And, Leah and Mark’s cats, will love on you all day if you just need that extra comfort without all the talking.
7 . You will shoot all types of subject matter: models, fashion shows, corporate and private events, your fellow interns (in front of and behind the scenes), Leah and Mark, couples, products, and anything else you take it upon yourself to set up and shoot. Make no mistake that you need to set up your own shoots along with one’s organized by Leah and Mark. You will need to be self-driven!
8 . You will learn about using equipment! This includes but is not limited to, lighting, gear, your own camera, yourself as a tool, etc, etc…
9 . You will learn what the statement “and…..GO!” means.
10. You will learn to take the shots necessary for a shoot and to then start taking shots for yourself.
11. You will meet and network with so many new people!! (this was by far my most favorite aspect of this whole experience). Thank you to everyone we worked for, with and, alongside!
12. You will learn about how Leah and Mark run their photography business and that they are not afraid to share any of their “secrets.” And if you use any of them…..they will probably come up with a new idea or try and do what you did, but better! :P
13. You will learn about editing basics….you wont learn everything, but they can get you started with navigating Photoshop and Lightroom basics. You will have to practice and troubleshoot on your own quite a bit, make no mistake, but this will only make you better and more self-sufficient.
14. You will learn more about the singular, most crucial, element that creates a photograph: LIGHTING!! No light=no photo! Mark uses many different lighting set-ups depending on the subject matter being shot…..you will want to observe, absorb, and repeat what he does and then try it out on your own!
15 .You will learn how much you actually enjoy writing. You will blog…a lot…
16 .You will discover more about the types of subjects you enjoy photographing vs. what you don’t.

And folks, there are so many things I’m sure i have not listed above, but the fact remains that these are the points that stick out most in my mind after these 3 months. How do I feel now knowing this is all coming to an end?
1. I am shocked at how quickly the 3 months passed
2. I do NOT want it to end
3. I know I will still be able to have these people in my life as confidants, mentors, friends, co-conspirators….and whatever else we may need each other for
4. I am a much better photographer who will continue to get better so long as I continue to shoot A LOT, take my camera everywhere, ask Mark questions through g-chat when I have them (hahaha!!), and keep my mind focused on becoming better…period.

There aren’t enough thank you’s that I can send out into the universe to express the gratitude I have for Leah and Mark and everything they have done for me and the other interns. I look forward to sustained relationships with everyone and to the progress each of us continues to make!

Cheers!

Atlanta. Photography. Internship. Reviews. Photos. Interns. Program. LeahAndMark.com

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  • Reply Atlanta. Photography. Internship. Intern. Program. LeahAndMark.com | LeahAndMark.com 15 Apr ’11 at 7:36 pm

    […] can read reviews of this internship from past Interns here: [Season Three] [Season Two] [Season […]

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