Many of our applying Interns come to us with because… they think we have some answers. They think we know a few things that they don’t. For the applicants that we finally accept – that’s mostly true. They have questions and we have answers. They’re looking for information that we probably know. They’re also looking for information that we don’t know – or that we absolutely have no clue about.
And that’s okay.
Because we’re okay with not knowing the answer. We’re okay with finding the answers. We’re even more okay with creating the answers.
Our business (really any business) is all about problem solving. If we weren’t good problem solvers then we wouldn’t continue to be in business. One of the foundations of any problem solving process is to solve the actual core problem and not just the symptoms of the core problem. For example – say your house catches on fire. You put it out quickly. Problem identified and solved? NO. You later discover that the fire started because of faulty wiring – and if that’s not fixed then another fire will occur. THAT’s the core problem.
For photographers the most common fire-problem that we’re trying to solve is gear. We all think that once we get THIS Lens or THAT Camera body – then our photography business will be able to grow and succeed. In relation to the Interns and teaching them fundamentals of photography – all of that is pretty easy and straight forward. They could learn that from any of the many books and other instructors out there in the world. Part of what makes our Internship different is that we might actually be able to help them find an answer to the underlying core fire-problem that they’re having, in regards to their photography. It takes time though. This is a three-month process.
We’re okay with creating answers – and for our Interns we try to create an environment where they themselves will find the answers they need. I’m not talking about what lens to use in what situation, or camera settings, or contract templates.
I’m talking about an Intern who doesn’t have confidence in their work. Or an Intern that might not be strong enough to tell bad clients to go f*ck themselves (in the nicest way posssible). OR an Intern that needs to be taken down a few notches so that they can finally get out of their own way and start connecting with people like a good photographer should. It’s all a process – and for every Intern the experience is different. There is a lot of ambiguity and many unknowns throughout the three months. We don’t guarantee that you’ll actually learn anything. We don’t guarantee that you’ll learn what you were hoping to learn. We do know that the ones who put in the work, that stick with it – they learn more than they could ever hope for. Sometimes it’s not until long after the internship has ended that the concepts we covered, finally sink into understanding.
Some Interns break during the process and can’t handle the way we teach things. That’s okay. They just need different teachers.
We’re the largest photography internship in the country – and that’s a scary thing for us. We don’t take our roles lightly. We have answers but the ones that are the most important and most needed by each individual intern? We have no idea what that answer is, and we’re okay with that.