– Posted by Mark
We’re currently in Season [Eight] of our Photography Internship – and I know I say this every season, but it’s this is the best group so far. Not only that – it’s the best intern experience so far… probably. But that’s largely due to the overall growth of our business. In the beginning we had to go out and seek events to photograph. We were hustling and just emailing organizers/media contacts for the events we wanted to photograph, and then just trying to get our foot in there. Now we’re at the point that more and more events just sort of fall in our laps – or organizers specifically seek us out.
On a different note – there are many unspoken/unwritten rules and tricks to the Internship. Partly because that’s the way we want a certain amount on uncertainty – and partly because we really leave the program open for each intern to shape their experience. Since each Intern comes from a different place, has different availability and experience – it’s very difficult to really provide a strict, standard program for everyone. We try to provide guidelines and a little of structure – but in the end – the success of their intern experience is largely based on the interns themselves.
For example – the few that we accept that have full time jobs have to work 2 or 3 times HARDER than the interns with open schedules. We understand the difficulties associated with having a 8-10 hour a day job and trying to get the most out of this internship. However – understand and sympathize are completely different things. Because in the end – if you have a full time job, then we think that for the three months of the internship, the rest of your free time should be photography. Anything else that takes away from that is your decision to not make the most of this internship. It’s kind of that simple.
And we take that position because past interns took that position. We didn’t start out thinking that it was okay to ask for such a commitment and level of sacrifice – we only came around to accepting that after past interns made the decision on their own. Of course it’s different for everyone – not everyone is willing to barely see their family, use their sick days/vacation days and cancel long planned trips just to make the most of the internship. So when we hear complaints about lack of time, lack of shoots at convenient/available windows/schedules – well – you either show up or you don’t. It’s kind of that simple. Work begets work. This is also just three months.
Another unspoken/unwritten tip is that if you want to get the most out of this internship – you’d better ask and/or compete to get on the best shoots that you’re interested in. All of the interns are able to view our company calendar with booked/planned events – and some of them early on realize that they can just ask to be included on specific shoots. And if you ask once – you might need to ask again to get an answer.
We joke around here that if you can’t find anyone to model for you for free – how are you ever going to find paying clients?
Getting invited/signed up for gigs with us is kind of like bidding/finding your own photo-gigs.
While this isn’t clearly written anywhere (until now) – it’s pretty obvious if you’ve ever read any of the reviews by our past Interns
Of course we also just ask specific interns to attend specific shoots – but the fact is that the more that we get to work with any specific intern, the more likely we’ll just ask them to work on another shoot. Because we don’t have to worry about them – we don’t have to test them out. Basically – they’re integrated into the team, or they’ve established a rhythm with working with me (Mark) and I don’t have to spend the time to catch them up. This is obviously very important on difficult shoots – or shoots that are just too important to take on untested interns.
Of course – we do as much as we can to pick the right interns from the start. We have a two step, essay application that we use to find our team every season – and we’re constantly changing our needs and how we select interns.
Because in the end we just need to be able to send people that we trust. For example – all of the photos in this post are by three current Interns – Luiza, Vee, and Kristi. A PR company hired us to photograph the Flaming Lips concert in Centennial Park for them and I was in Indiana shooting a wedding. So I sent three brand new Interns.
I even put the youngest one (Luiza) in charge (she just graduated from high school!)
Of course – this wasn’t the first time or the last time that I’ve sent our photographers on very important gigs – where I really need them to not fail, but also just all out succeed for the client. Risky? Always. That’s why selecting the best interns up front is so important.
We didn’t plan it to be like this – but our internship mirrors our business – really the photography business in general. Hustling for work, learning as you go, competing, marketing yourself, and really just a constant nonstop effort.
At least that’s what it is if you want to succeed, in business or our Photography Internship.
And no complaining.
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