So. This is not the first time that Drag Queens and all their fabulousness have graced the pages of LeahAndMark.com- almost six months ago, I had one of my favorite shoots to date at Burkharts Pub: home of the best drag in Atlanta (seriously, it’s been proven). Six months doesn’t sound like much, but trust me: a lot can change in what feels like the blink of an eye.
I remember applying for the LeahAndMark Internship… it felt perfect for me, as if the stars aligned and suddenly, THIS was what I was supposed to be doing right this very moment. So I mulled over my portfolio, poured my heart into my application, and clicked Submit. And a few weeks and a crazy 3 AM deadline later, I got it. Seriously, that feeling- which I celebrated by dancing around my kitchen with my four-year-old- was awesome. Up there in my top 10, that’s for sure.
And so, I became an Intern. I filled up memory cards faster than I ever had before. I met people unlike any I’d ever met before. I learned more than I’d ever expected- both by watching and by shooting- at a pace so whirlwind that I STILL stop in the middle of a shoot, look around at my surroundings (whether I’m standing neck-deep in the Chattahoochee or sitting backstage with half-dressed drag queens, and wonder, “How the hell did I get here? THIS IS AWESOME.” And then I text my husband to tell him how much I love my job.
Now I’m on the other side of things: I’m a Plus. An associate photographer. An Alumni Intern. And now we’re at the start of a fresh group of Interns- Season [NINE]. I’m amazed at how differently I feel this time around, compared to the beginning of Season Eight- I suppose it’s just because I have another three months of still shooting and hustling and working my ass off under my belt now, and the little things like answering questions and offering advice are starting to come more naturally to me now. Well. That, and it’s nice to not have to carry all the gear myself anymore. Most of the time.
The idea of the Internship is awesome. Genius, really. (And we all know that Mark, at some point, requires most of the Interns to proclaim his geniushood in a blog post here or there.) You take a photographer. Then you add more photographers. Then you add Intern photographers- who are all insanely talented already, and they’re here to learn. And shoot. And observe. And carry gear. What can I say? It happens.
And selfishly, I’ll go ahead and say it: the Interns make ME a better photographer. It’s one thing to step outside, size up your lighting, and turn this/turn that to get your settings right: silently, quickly, instinctively. It’s an entirely different thing to have to turn to someone else and explain what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. I answer a question- and then understand it just a little bit better myself. I’ll listen to ideas- and gain inspiration from a fresh perspective. I’ll go to workshops- and learn something completely new. I know everyone always says this, but each new class of Interns is completely different from the last. The dynamic, the range of abilities, the reasons why people are here. And with every season, it just keeps getting better. Exponentially.
But most of all, I just really like meeting new people… artistic, creative, motivated people with whom I usually have more in common than I’d ever imagined. My favorite part of the Internship- and experiencing it from another side now- is the first night. Everybody’s nervous and excited and shifting in their chairs. I remember what that felt like: like the first big hill on a rollercoaster. You race to get in the front row, hurry up and wait while you stand in line, beam with excitement while you try to play it cool… then you get in, pull that rickety safety bar down over your lap, and suddenly, as you’re climbing the first hill, you’re not really sure if you REALLY want to do this- because it’s scary. Then, before you know it, you’re plunging headfirst into this great new adventure. That nervous energy is my favorite part. Because I’ve been there. And I’m so glad I can say that.