Mark

Two-Thirds of a Photography Internship

28 Sep ’12
Photograph-Interns-LeahAndMark

Our photography Internship is three (3) months long. Some interns make the most of it (they shoot anything they can, whenever they can, and they setup their own shoots when there’s nothing going on) – and then some don’t make the most of it. As an Intern – it can be difficult to see where all of this shooting is going. Because we send you on shoots that seemingly have nothing to do with commercial photography, or weddings, or even basic family portraits. Through some serendipitous series of events – you often end up on shoots that are generally not what you want to focus on as a photographer.

Not only that – if you’ve read the reviews – (this one by Alumni Intern Meagan is one of the best overviews) then you know that I (Mark!) – give very little instruction, and I definitely don’t offer advice unless it’s asked for – and even then you probably have to ask 5-6 times AND buy me coffee. It’s absolutely frustrating, confusing, and the question of WHY AM I DOING ALL OF THIS?! is definitely in the back of the mind of every Intern. Of course – even though I wish that this Internship was a straight linear program with a syllabus and progress checkpoints and gold stars – it has none of that.

Everything is semi-designed to throw you off – or worse… kind of f*ck with you. Not in any mean or malicious sort of way – but because along with basic photography skills, you have the opportunity to really find out some things about you the photographer. I know – that’s not what everyone signs up for – but if you’ve ever completed our Intern Application process then you know that this isn’t your regular Photography 101 tips and tricks and by-the-numbers Internship.

Because of this – we also have a relatively high dropout rate. (We also make people cry.) Sometimes life gets in the way and people can’t participate as much as they’d like – but then sometimes they find that the hand-holding instruction they need, honestly just isn’t there. And that’s okay. We know that we’re not the right ‘teachers’ for everyone – and we’ve created this Internship specifically not for everyone. The internship mimics the way I learned photography. Through way too much photographing of ANY and EVERY THING I could shoot. Events. Models. Family portraits. Products. Events. Weddings. Events. Because we’ve always approached photography as work – and not just a hobby or when we ‘feel inspired’.

As the Internship progresses – patterns start to emerge. Some Interns like working with specific Interns. Some absolutely won’t work with others – and then some Interns are conveniently busy whenever the shoot seems uninteresting. And that’s cool – because no one is forcing the Interns to be present, to work, to take photographs and put themselves in difficult situations (they always have the option of staying home, watching tutorials and just… not shooting.) No matter what I say – if an Intern doesn’t believe me when I say they need to shoot as much as possible – no matter what – during the internship, then I don’t push it. Because there are always other interns that trust in our process and are truly open to learning everything they can in the short three months.

What’s also amazing is the ones that work the hardest also receive the most attention. It IS favoritism in the worst way. I just like to work with the ones that appear to be working the hardest – and that don’t f*cken complain like little b*tches. Imagine that.

Something else that’s also a bit crazy is that during the three months, some people realize that they can either complain about ME, or the Internship, or our lousy shoots – OR they can get to work, start shooting on their own and generally just not give a f*ck because they’re too busy working photography. Sometimes this doesn’t happen. And that’s okay. Because we also give people an ‘easy out’. We obviously don’t want anyone to remain an Intern if they don’t want to be here (and they might not be up to actually quitting.) SO. We’ve started requiring an evaluation blog entry about what they’ve learned so far, and what they hope to learn, 2/3rds of the way through the Internship. We set a deadline and each Intern can either post or not post their blog entry. Not posting means you’re out. You don’t even have to ‘say’ you’re out – you’re just… gone after that. Easy. Out.

And now. Going into this last month of the Internship we’re left with the core group. The ones that want to be here no matter what because they believe this Internship is worth it. I believe it’s worth it. I will have photographed 28 weddings in 11 states this year. I’ve shot several commercial campaigns, traveled to 9 different cities to photograph corporate events, flew to 3 different states for engagement sessions and completed 1 billion family portraits. None of that includes the time we spend with the Interns. On the workshops, the meetings, the emails, the organization and coordinating. So I absolutely believe this Internship is worth it – and I work hard for the ones that also believe.

This is the last month and it’s going to be the best month.

[Intern Dee] – “I realized while talking to Mark, after he pretty much broke everything down plain and simple, that my issues about technical things were not really issues. They were actually masking what I truly had an issue with…”

[Intern Kathryn] – “This hasn’t been a nicely paved road.  There have been bumps (big ones), disappointments (huge ones), and days where I really just wanted to punch someone, anyone in the face (and I’m sure the sentiment was returned – I’d be shocked if it wasn’t, frankly.).  I’ve cried, laughed, met some cool people, had a couple anxiety attacks, stayed up all night, learned so much more from every shoot than I thought possible…”

[Intern Krisandra] – “I have learned to speak up (I am still learning this)! The internship moves FAST and so does Mark. I have learned that I have to be direct and take control of a room or group of people if I want my vision to be seen. Watching isn’t learning.”

[Intern Haley] – “Apart from a few sit-down sessions with Mark and the other interns regarding editing and workflow (which was an incredible dose of concentrated helpful), most of the things I have learned have been a product of shooting as much as humanly possible.”

[Intern Joy] – “I have to say that this experience has really opened my eyes to the amount of effort that REALLY goes into photography.”

[Intern Brittany] – “2 months. 15 shoots.  2 workshops.  And approximately 112 cups of coffee (sadly that’s probably a low estimate) later, I am happy to say that over the past 8 weeks I have been served the plate of increased experience with that side of knowledge I was craving”

[Intern Lauren] – “One thing I admire about Mark and Leah is that they picked up their cameras a few years ago and then built a life and a business around their creativity and passion. And that’s what I’m determined to do with my life as well.”

 

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