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We are often asked the question – why is your Internship so successful? Of course – the real question that’s usually being asked is ‘how do you continue to attract so many interns that work for free, and that seemingly work so hard for you?
Although we can easily come up with a complicated answer involving how we manage personalities, projects that we assign, and our extensive interview process – the real answer is simply the amount of energy and resources that we spend on the Internship. Between workshops that we provide (photo 101, lighting, marketing, photobooths, styled shoots, a two day wedding workshop) and critique nights, and group shoots, and of course the introduction/graduation nights – this current season requires a substantial amount of effort to keep things running smoothly. There’s the time it takes to schedule everything, and get ready for workshops – and then of course the actual duration of the workshops… and online communications, and other last minute projects that come up with each season.
It’s so much work now that we hired our Creative Director (Joy) specifically to make sure everything operates awesomely.
So how much time does it take to operate our Internship? As much as possible. We spend as much time as we possibly can on the Internship because we decided that it was worth it to our business. Not only that – but the effectiveness and success of each Season directly relates to my level of involvement and focus – and past seasons have proved that to be very true.
Deciding to share our knowledge and teach it to others for free was one of the best business decisions we ever made. At least in the top 3.
We don’t spend too much time thinking about our branding, or what gear to buy – more than anything else we spend our time figuring out how we can share what we know. We don’t earn any profit for our workshops and our Internship is free and unpaid. We work very hard at trying to give away what we’ve learned.
It’s odd but yes – giving away as much of our ‘knowledge’ or secrets as we can is part of our business strategy – and it’s worked very well for us.
Think the photography market is over saturated? Try being a musician. Or a writer. Or a Chef.
The generic advice is to just be different.
It’s not about being completely different. It’s about being different enough AND finding your audience.
Different work, different personality, different people. You have to make, be, and find those things. We have a nearly infinite number of options – so much music to listen to, so much good stuff to read, so many amazing chefs making great food, but somehow there are people finding success admidst so much competition. Then there are photographers like you and me. The ones that never picked up a DSLR until about 3 years ago. We’re the ones who would have never learned photography if it hadn’t become so accessible to everyone. And now many of us complain there are too many photographers out there. The market is saturated. Everyone just wants a cheap $50 photographer off of Craigslist. Or a $500 shooter for their wedding.
Make different work. Find your audience. Make more work.