– Posted by Elaine
the thing about the internship, not all shoots are glamorous. there aren’t always backdrops and lightstands. models and make-up and wardrobe. well, that’s not true. sometimes the backdrop is a wall full of eyeglasses. and the models are doctors. and the wardrobe is a suit. but a shoot is a shoot. even if they don’t fit your definition of exciting. I had Intern Christine come with me on this corporate headshot shoot at Georgia Eye Specialists. I asked her to hold the reflector. after seeing her reaction, I then asked her if she’d ever held a reflector before. she hadn’t. such a little thing, but that’s what stood out most to me about this shoot. how we always need to assume that the interns are starting from zero. not in an insulting way. more in a blank-canvas kind of way.
as the Season 8 Interns wind down their three months, I’m really feeling how that was just me a blink ago. I’ve watched them go through everything I did. the just knowing you were going to get the internship, while simultaneously being completely shocked you got in. the introduction night “what the hell have I gotten myself into” look. the excitement and nervousness at the beginning. incessant facebook-checking to be first responder in the new-shoot opportunity battle. shooting, shooting, and shooting some more. thinking you were the best intern. thinking you were the worst. having to remind yourself that you’re not a complete idiot when it comes to photography and that you were picked for this internship for a reason. having doubts and insecurities mess with your head. having overconfidence and cockiness mess with your head. blogging like a boss to get more posts in than the other interns. then falling behind. thinking the internship was never going to end and that you were tired and you were not ever going to finish everything you had to edit. feeling panic and indignation at hearing mark announce that applications were being accepted for the next intern season. feeling a little bit like you were being dumped or replaced. then thinking the internship had gone by way too fast and wishing it wouldn’t ever end.
I’m going to tell you something I haven’t told anyone. when I started my internship, my unspoken, barely-admitted-to-myself goal was to become a “plus”. I was going to work my ass off to become good, better, best. to be solid and reliable. and awesome, of course. “it’s only 3 months” was my mantra. I said yes to every shoot, even if I wasn’t sure I could make it. then I made sure I made it. I ran around. I carried things. heavy things. I didn’t bitch. (well, I bitched. but I didn’t whine.) I showed up, tried to learn, and not be envious of everyone else. in front of clients, I remembered dad-lesson #16: act like you know what you’re doing, even if you don’t. and in front of my LeahAndMark family I actually asked questions when I didn’t know what I was doing.
so anyway, the 3 months ended. my wish granted, Intern Elaine became +Elaine. (I love referring to myself in the third person.) huzzah! except that that mantra which had kept me going ended up throwing me for a loop. I gave the internship everything I had, and I was tired and wanted a break. but then the new crop of interns arrived, and I had to help them. and they were there to help me. it re-energized me. reliving the whole thing through them, trying to help them learn. giving them the opportunity to make mistakes. because the mistakes are what really make you learn and grow. trusting them. teaching them to trust themselves.
not to mention the fact that instead of being the intern, I got to have interns. well, they’re LeahAndMark’s interns. but I have them by association. the best part is having help. extra hands to haul stuff around, an extra shooter (or three or four). having someone to boss around. not that I do…well, a little. but in a kind way. I’m a benevolent dictator.
it’s by interacting with the interns that I really see how far I’ve come myself. their lessons are my lessons. and as the Season 9 applications come pouring in, I realize that the internship never really ends. because as a “plus” it’s this fantastic 3-month long groundhog day kind of experience that I get to relive again. and again. learning more and more each time around. making myself a better “plus”, a better photographer, a better me, with every iteration.