“Write as much as you would like to say, and whatever you’d like to say. I will not censor or edit your reviews – 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
Internship : “A period of time during which a beginner acquires experience in an occupation, profession or pursuit”
Good, unpaid, free internships are hard to come by. Our society has become one of instant gratification in every aspect – including work and careers. I truly believe the adage “work smarter, not harder” needs to be reversed, or at least balanced out. We have become a society of work smarter, and completely neglected the hard work. If you think you are going to make a living at photography without working your butt off for the foreseeable future, you better be insanely better than the thousands of other people competing in the same market, even then you are going to need a few lucky breaks.
It is very hard to find a good, free internship these days. Most people don’t offer one because the amount of work required on their part doesn’t translate to enough of a benefit to make it worth their time anymore. As a potential employer, the amount of people looking for work, and the ease by which you can find someone that fits exactly with the position you are looking for almost completely negates the need for you to groom someone into a position.
Of course, all of this is the exact reason why LeahAndMark offer their internship. If you have taken anything more than a surface level look at LeahAndMark, you know that doing things “differently” is the norm, and finding ways to make crazy ideas work is their passion.
I think nearly every intern that has gone through this program will offer you the same statement – “The internship is what you make it”, and I couldn’t agree more. If you come into this expecting to get a quick, easy, path to success, you are looking in the wrong place. This is a lot of work, a lot of commitment, a lot of shooting, and oh yeah, a lot of hard work.
The internship itself will afford you the opportunity to do just about anything that you want to do with your photography. You may read in some of the other reviews that the amount of instruction is minimal (and it is) – but keep in mind this is an internship, not a class. Here your best tool of learning is observation and communication. If you have a question – ask, If you are getting frustrated – talk to somebody, if your still frustrated – keep shooting. LeahAndMark truly do care about your success and your growth, if you don’t take advantage of having open lines of communication with them and the other interns, you are missing out on perhaps the most valuable part of this experience. After spending just a few minutes with Leah and Mark, you will understand that they are people first, teachers second, and photographers last.
This may not be a bullet point review, but in case you didn’t read between the lines, this internship is an awesome experience, I guarantee that you will not shoot as much, or in as broad a range of situations anywhere else, nor will you find a better community of photographers to work with. Sure, there may be things that could be done better, but thats not the point, the point is that it is worth every minute of time invested in it. This internship is all about opportunity, and the opportunity is there, what you do with it is on you.
There is no excuse for this internship to not be the best thing you have done in your life. If it is not, then you have not put your best into it.
This internship is about photography… but it is also about life. Do your best at everything you do. Apply for this internship right now knowing it will change your life if you let it. Apply because you want to be a better person, not just a better photographer. Apply because LeahandMark are generous enough to let you. You will not be disappointed if you give it your best.
Mark is a marketing genius in my book. If you want to get the most out of this, study what Mark does. Read his blog posts and think to yourself…”now, why did he do that.” There is always a good reason. Study what he posts on social media and always ask why. There is a method to his madness. Post everything you do on Facebook and Twitter and help promote Mark too. After all, he is doing a lot for you. Marketing is the most important thing you can do for your business, so make sure you learn as much as you can while you are an intern.
This isn’t photography 101. It was never supposed to be.
Mark is never going to sit down and say, “this is exactly how you use your camera. This is what the buttons do. This is exactly how you are supposed to set up your lights and exactly what settings you should be using when you shoot from this set up.”
If that is what you want, you shouldn’t be signing up for this.
Mark is however going to present you with opportunities and equipment to learn these things for yourself. He is going to hand you some lights and say “Go.” Honestly, I want to thank him a thousand times for doing that. I learned so much more at the Lighting 102 class because he did not show us. We tried a million things before we got it right, and you know what happened…we got a killer picture on our own. We learned what not to do, and what does not work…which is something you would not learn with a step by step tutorial. It is very hands on…you are not going to find anything more hands on than this.
Is the internship perfect? Of course not. Not even close to be honest, but that doesn’t matter. Nothing is perfect. Mark is an insanely busy guy, so sometimes he isn’t great at communicating, but be patient. Talk to him on G-Chat whenever you can, and don’t get discouraged if he ignores you. It’s probably on purpose. If you find yourself thinking that he doesn’t care, that isn’t true…he just wants you to figure it out for yourself. He’s not there to hold your hand…so hold your own and move on. There are going to be weeks where things seem very disorganized and others where you feel like you have nothing to shoot…don’t fret. Like I said…it’s not perfect. You can make it better by setting up your own shoots. Shoot your friends, family, other interns, strangers in the park, whatever you need to do to get the practice.
If you get nothing else out of this, you will be challenged. You will be pushed and pulled and tugged in every way that is possible…and even in some that are impossible. You see, Mark is sneaky. He does things in a Jedi like fashion…never letting you know his true motives until they hit you like a ton of brick and the light bulb comes on. He will frustrate you to no end, until you are so angry that you will spend three straight days figuring out the answer to your own questions. It is then you will realize that you have been Jedi mind tricked into discovering that you had it in you all along. When you finally realize that you can do this, growth is inevitable.
You are going to come out of this experience a new person, so be prepared. You are going to work harder and shoot more than you ever have in your photography career. And with every shoot you are going to see change.
S. Andre. Keichian.
This internship provides you an opportunity; how you choose to shape your hard work and involvement within this time is entirely up to you.
It’s swift, I will tell you that. Be engaged, and try to stay that way. But expect frustration… Then expect pride & excitement.
Both Leah and Mark are extremely positive and have energy about them that I always love being around. But despite their encouragement, this internship forces you to become more independent than you would probably imagine.
No one is going to tell you what to do or how to do it. You’ll have to create it yourself. And if you have questions along the way, you now have a help desk of support to direct you to better answers.
Having an army of interns in itself really changes things from the start because you immediately have a supportive crew of folks with varying backgrounds, strengths and interests to collaborate with. I’ve met some really good people this way and learned a lot through these relationships. And I know we will continue to shoot together in the future.
This internship creates a hub for exploration; it gives you all that you would need to take it wherever you want it to go. And the experience, the skills learned and confidence gained are a renewed set of tools you are walking away with. For that reason, this opportunity is invaluable.
My advice is: Be as dedicated as your life will allow you to be. And if you can’t find the time, quit your job.
Just enjoy this opportunity as best as you can, because it really is rare. And it’s a hell of a lot of fun.
I applied for this internship because I wanted to see if I enjoyed the day-to-day workings of being a professional photographer, to be exposed to the photography world, to meet and collaborate with other photographers, and to get a taste for what life might be like as a professional photographer. Because of this internship, I had that opportunity and am so grateful for it. Now, I can honestly say that I do want more than ever to become a professional photographer, and I’m looking forward to all of the learning, photographing, marketing, and editing that lies ahead.
Below is what I enjoyed about the internship:
- Getting to know a community of other photographers with whom I could work, ask questions, and be friends.
- Required photo shoots. Because we have a number of required shoots per month, I was forced to shoot a lot which made me improve. As Mark says, “Shoot more, shoot better.”
- Putting my work out for the public. Having an audience made a big difference for me when shooting because it made me more accountable for my work. I had to be proud of what I put out there, and therefore, I had to try harder.
- Learning about photography. That sounds like a very generic comment but it’s not. I came into this internship without a lot of knowledge about how to take photos beyond a point and shoot camera, and this internship immediately introduced to me all sorts of photography concepts as well as gear, lighting, models, marketing, editing, etc.
- Writing a blog. The blog made me reflect more on my photos. In the past, I would just send photos to friends or what not. The internship forced me to think about my work, examine my photos in detail, and analyze how I could have improved the shoot. The other interns’ blogs exposed me to different writing styles and their reflections of their work.
- Marketing Workshop. The Marketing Workshop was one of the highlights of the entire internship for me. As I tried to convey in my blog about the workshop, Mark and Leah do not have to tell us all of their marketing secrets, but they do. They unabashedly open up for over two hours about all of the tips and tricks they have done to be successful. Having never taken a marketing class before, their workshop was incredibly helpful. I left the workshop feeling very excited about opening my own business and confident that I could do it.
- Critique. The critique organized by Laura was very beneficial because it forced us to discuss each other’s work and find the good and bad in our photos. Do more of these. Without a critique of my work, it’s much harder to know where to improve and it’s always good to have a different set of eyes examine your work.
- Recreating photos assignment. This was a great assignment because it required me to really examine your work and try to understand every aspect of a photo in order to reproduce it. Additionally, having a structured assignment was beneficial because I had a goal in mind that I was trying to accomplish. Give out more structured assignments.
Overall, I enjoyed this internship. It was stressful at times trying to juggle both this internship and a full time job but well worth it. I am grateful to my fellow interns and alumni interns who encouraged me and with whom I was honored to work. Leah and Mark, thank you for selecting me as one of your interns, sharing your world with me, and having this internship. I appreciate all of you!
First off, really it’s too short. And there’s so much that fills those three months. From a pool of new people- new photographers- with whom you can learn from and share this experience with, to photographing what you haven’t thought of or never thought you’d do. And then there’s Leah and Mark. Both of whom are supportive and always expect more from you- because they know you can do better.
And the aspect I like the most is being in an environment where everyone is excited for a shoot or where ideas are going around and everyone is working towards a photography related goal. It’s not like sitting alone and trying to figure out where to start. It’s a three month long push to get you the tools, confidence, or whatever else you need and then the how the tools get used is up to you.
Participating in this internship opened up more doors for me than I could have anticipated. Between the organized internship challenges, the opportunities to shadow alumni interns, the ideas I was inspired to pursue on my own, and the connections made through fellow interns, I was kept busy the entire three months. Not a week went by without at least 1 or 2 shoots (and sometimes as many as four). The 1 shoot per week requirement pushed me to hone my skills by practicing on a regular basis, and it gave me some accountability to make that commitment. Blogging weekly (aside from that 1 month fluke where my computer broke twice…ahem…) challenged me to reflect on my photography with new eyes, presenting my work to the public. Working closely with 6 fellow interns kept me moving forward and growing immensely.
The highlights of this experience for me were the classes and lessons (yeah, a little predictable coming from a teacher, but I’m ok with that!): Lighting 101, Marketing 101, Improv Lessons, the photo critique, and Editing/ Website class. I took tons of notes at most of them and benefited enormously from the direct instruction. Fellow Intern Gabe was such an asset to our intern team with his knowledge of website design, and +Raven is a rockstar at photo editing. Marketing class was the main reason I applied for this internship, and I was thankful to be a part of it. As a teacher, business sense is at the bottom of my talents list, so I really needed guidance from someone as dedicated to marketing as Mark to get my photography business off the ground. Improv class was far less intimidating than I had feared, and was one of the most enjoyable nights I had at the studio. We learned skills we weren’t even aware we needed as photographers and focused on the importance of positive language. Another highlight was the reproduction assignment. I’d love to see that idea revisited in future seasons, but based on Flickr favorites or famous photographs instead.
This internship works best for highly self-motivated people.
To future applicants, please know as you apply that there is no hand holding or spoon feeding. Outside the one photo critique organized by the fabulous +Laura, I received little to no feedback on my work. I never shadowed Mark one-on-one (which was an unrealistic expectation on my part… there are 7 interns in my season. This is not designed to be a one-on-one program). The internship is also geared toward people who are already quite comfortable shooting manually with an SLR and basic post processing. The editing class did not take place until month 3, so up until then we were on our own to publish blog-worthy photos based on our own pre-existing knowledge. Perhaps in future seasons that editing class would fit better at the beginning.
I personally also struggled with starting a full time job in the same week as this internship. Being an effective teacher and a successful photographer is a draining balancing act. I’d advise future applicants with full time jobs to be aware of the time demands of this internship. You will spend hours upon hours shooting and editing, and those may be hours that your schedule doesn’t exactly have room for. The interns who seemed to get the most out of this experience were those able to fully devote themselves and their time to photography for the full 3 months.
All things considered, I feel proud to have completed this internship. I am a greater photographer than I was 3 months ago. I now call myself a photographer, and that’s a big deal in and of itself. I can’t speak highly enough about the 6 fellow interns I worked with and the teamwork that took place among us. This internship afforded me the rare and wonderful opportunity to join together in a community of artists, exchanging ideas and sharing inspiration. I am thankful for the unique internship program that Leah and Mark offer and for all the people I met therein. What an enlightening 3 months!
Photography. Internship. Atlanta. Photos. Intern. Program. Reviews. LeahAndMark.com