We held our Lighting 102 Workshop for the 2nd Term Interns last Wednesday evening. It rained so hard earlier in the day and into the evening that a portion of I-75 FLOODED. Fortunately it died down to a slight drizzle for the hour and half during our little competition. After showing the 2nd Term & Season 3 Interns how I look at lighting a space – we divided everyone into three teams. Each set of Alumni Interns had to light a final shot using four (4) speedlights. The idea was to light ‘the space’ – and not just the model. The header photo above was my example and you can see each team’s final shots in this post with their Intern blog addresses as the identifying labels.

One of the main goals of lighting any scene is to simply make the light go unnoticed. The goal is to make a final shot and not necessarily a behind-the-scenes shot with lightstands everywhere. Sometimes this requires an extra amount of creativity – other times a little bit of photoshop – but ultimately you want to make photos that require less and less photoshop editing. Different from my usual self – I made sure not to touch anyone’s lights/make adjustments/help out. Even though I will never actually declare a winner in any of these competitions – I wanted this one to be completely between the Interns.

So as you read the reviews below of the Intern Experience – take a look at the final photos from each team. Know that ALL of the light you see in the photos is coming from the four speedlights used in each shot and that they were shooting in near complete darkness.

Intern Debra:

First and foremost, I would like to say thank you.  Thank you to Leah and Mark for taking me on as an intern, teaching, mentoring, and actually becoming genuine friends.  I stumbled on the intern experience, applied fervently, and the past three months have changed my life drastically.  I knew I wanted to be an artist and call it my living and not just my passion, and interning with Leah and Mark has given me a light on the path to becoming a successful photographer.  It helps tremendously that they taught us solid business and marketing practices.

Knowing how to get the equipment I need to get started , without it costing thousands of dollars put the tools in my hands to start making the images I saw in my mind, and didn’t break my wallet.  The marketing class showed me how to go about making a name for myself, without dropping a big wad of cash on advertising, and reinforced the idea of running a debt free business.  That is quite uncommon these days.  Artistically speaking the internship helped me to work on lighting techniques, composition, and also by watching and learning from the other interns I was challenged to be better at every single shoot.

I am amazed at how quickly the time went by, it was ALOT of hard work, alot of learning, and alot of satisfaction when things went right.  I will always be thankful for the learning and growing that came with the internship, and will always count Leah and Mark as close friends!  Thanks again to Leah and Mark, and also to the people who have followed our intern class and welcomed us to their events and occasions!

Intern Robby:

During my internship with LeahAndMark.com, I have noticed a large amount of growth in my photography. I don’t just mean that I’ve gotten better photographs. Prior to this internship, I was a guy who had a pretty good eye for getting lucky with his 1300 dollar point and shoot camera. My plan for getting better shots was to buy a more expensive lens. I had the basic ideas of of outdoor photography under my belt and searched for the perfect situation to get the perfect shot. I took some photos of people, but really only family because, hey, they don’t mind too much. During this internship, I have learned many things:

  • You can get amazing, nay wonderful, nay. . . magical photos from any camera
  • Expensive glass is nice, but not required
  • Move your body, not the zoom bevel
  • control the lighting, don’t let it control you
  • Mark always wins contests (they’re not exactly rigged, but pretty much)
  • You don’t have to crop every photo if you just get the shot you want the first time
  • Ask people if you can take their photo – most say yes
  • Take your camera everywhere – not just to get shots, but to build business interest
  • Stand on chairs to take photos – even if the shots suck, people are like “hey, that guy’s the real deal. He’s on a chair. Let’s give him thousands of dollars to photograph our wedding. It’ll be awesome. YEAH!”
  • Confidence is more important that having the best shots right away. Magical photos will come with practice.
  • Ask questions.
  • Practice. Nothing gets easier without practice. If confused about this, ask questions.

To future interns: Mark is a great photographer. Watch him. Learn. He’s not the best teacher (sorry Mark, let me finish), but he’s a fantastic facilitator. He’ll give you more opportunities to learn than you can imagine. Take them. Force yourself to learn. If Mark does something amazing or generates a photo a gozillion (go-zill-iyohn) times better than yours, ask him why. He’ll tell you. And that’s why he’s so good. He knows WHY his photos are great. It’s not luck. It’s not the camera. During this internship, I’ve begun to know WHY my photos are good or bad. I’ve learned how to take the photo I see in my head. And that’s why I can charge people for my services now. And they even pay me.

Leah is the nicest ever.

Intern Maigh:

One minute I was asking Mark to let me tag along with him during my staycation in September, the next thing I knew I was saying “screw it” and signing up for the whole 3 month internship.  No time like the present, you only live once, blah blah blah.  Those quotes have no idea how much I love sleep or how lazy I am.

Mark and Leah didn’t care.  They saw potential in me when I couldn’t see it in myself, read my ooey-gooey application and took me in.  Mark wore me out, dragged me around, listened to concerns and feedback, worked silently, cracked himself up, gave directions in bullet points, pulled a few Mr. Miyagi’s, said “go” a lot, provided opportunities I couldn’t have imagined and let. me. grow.

Intern Ashley

My intern experience was nothing like I imagined, and yet, I accomplished more as a photographer than I ever fathomed going into it [and I didn’t go in with low expectations].  From our first night, I knew that I was bound to learn at whatever capacity I let myself. That began with a lot of humility and ended with much more confidence, waaaay better photographs, and a much better relationship with my long-battled love-hate relationship with over-exposed photographs. And it all happened, in just 3 months – seriously, where did the time go?

As a whole, the intern experience was a complete whirlwind that ended almost as quickly as it started. There’d be moments I’d think to myself – “this will never end”, and days when I’d realize, “Wow, this is it? This is really sad. Maybe I can still work with the new interns? Or maybe we can have a reunion? Get sushi?”.  During the internship itself, I didn’t see or talk to my friends and family much [and am confident they only knew I was alive by following my intern blog posts], and I had to fight to keep my priorities my priorities [i.e. date nights, sleeping in one day/wk, etc.]. Although the requirements were only 1 shoot/blog per week, I’ve decided this internship is comparable to being an architecture student – doing the bare minimum really isn’tenough. Those of us who did do more, who put ourselves out there, met strangers, put up ads to find clients [or anyone who would let us photograph them], went out with Mark or invited him to a shoot, I think were the interns that had the most enriching experience. While Leah and Mark were available for questions and assistance, they didn’t always hand us the answers on a silver platter. By doing so, they helped us much more than a crutch, and were really there to push us along a process that only we could snowball ourselves.  Simply put - they wouldn’t let us be great interns to go on and fail as professional photographers.

In summary, I am forever grateful for this internship, not only as a photographer, but a person. I loved my experience, am sad to see it come to a close, but all the while, really looking forward to my next vacation. 🙂

Intern Kristen

Where do I begin?? Well let me start by saying Leah and Mark are great people! You don’t find many photographers willing to set up an entire learning experience for the average amateur photographer looking for hands-on practical experience. They don’t hold your hand through the process, but they give you valuable tips and great advice and they are always available for questions and don’t hold back.

I drove up from Orlando just for this internship, and having learned so much, I can’t say its something I regret doing at all. I can truly see where I’ve improved in many places. Most of the events were done with Mark and other interns. In the beginning you start off and probably get used to Mark setting up lightstands and creating epic pictures in a matter of seconds for you. Then, he hands you a trigger and settings and then its on you to direct, create and shoot shoot shoot! You think wow this is great! Until the day comes that he gives you the lightstands and a trigger and tells you to create your own set up on spot. You realize that is not so great, But – This is where the real learning comes in, as there’s no longer that safety net, but he trusts you fully because “you’ll figure it out”. Don’t worry, because you Will !

One of the most important things I got from this experience is – don’t stop shooting! Shoot, Shoot and then shoot some more! Practice makes, well I won’t say perfect, but most definitely Better pictures. I went in with okay pictures, and came out with noticeably better pictures, an undeniable confidence behind the camera, great friends and 2 mentors I will never forget.

I can’t thank Leah and Mark enough for taking me on as an intern. I really appreciate the time and dedication they put into us to help us to be even better at what we love to do.

Intern ChrisL:

Wow. Where to start? How about the beginning? I was born–oh, not that beginning! Let’s just rewind 3 months, to the start of this internship, shall we?

Coming into this internship, I brought nearly 5 years of experience as a children’s photographer. I already had my own business, my own equipment, and my own set ways. Upon running the gauntlet and getting accepted, I took the stance that it’s easier to learn something new than to relearn something old. I looked at each new chance to shoot as a completely new situation, applying my previous knowledge only when applicable (and honestly, it wasn’t very helpful besides being able to read the light).

You see, I learned photography in a retail sense. All of my shots were designed for the “quick sale”. I learned how to use a backdrop with studio strobes in particular positions, at a specific power, to achieve the look I aimed for. Having never had the opportunity to learn anything different, I was stuck. Yeah, I’ve read tons of books, listened to hundreds of hours of podcasts. Videotutorials, photo walks, and blogs. But this was the first opportunity to learn what the masters knew from one of them.

Mark is unique in that he has built his national business in shortly over a year. He hasn’t even had a DSLR for more than two years at this point! The man is a genius, and has no throttle. His motto is “Go”, and he definitely lives that motto. When he decides he’s going to do something, he blows it away, every time. He’s done it with his business, and he did it with the internship. I have learned more in these 3 months than I have learned in 5 years of shooting professionally, reading hundreds of books, watching videos, listening to podcasts, and reading blogs combined. And there’s so much more I could learn from him. But even discounting what I feel I haven’t learned (which was only constrained by the short amount of time I was able to put into it), this internship has been the best thing I have ever done for my photography.

Aside from the technical skills learned, it has given me the confidence that I had lost after years of going through the motions doing the same kind of photography over and over. Yeah, I could walk into a daycare and knock out 60 kids in 2 hours with three perfect poses per child, but my confidence in shooting anything else was nil. I got the occasional lucky shot on a photo walk or in the backyard, but now I know without a doubt that I can shoot anything. And if I’m faced with a challenge of gear, I pull a Tim Gunn and “make it work”.

Looking back over my work from the past years, I can see it plateau. I can literally pick out the point that I got stuck in my rut and stopped growing as a photographer, and that point is about 3 and a half years ago. When I hit the point of a few months ago, and the beginning of this internship, I see an incredible spike in ability, especially in the past few weeks. The cool thing is that I know I’ve just begun. Mark has not only taught me so much, but also opened doors and windows of knowledge. I can see many paths ahead of me that I’m excited to explore, and I owe it all to this internship.

So if you’re a new intern, or looking to intern in the future, I can offer a little advice:

-Don’t waste time. Due to my business and the obligations put upon me as a director of a large convention, I literally missed 3 weeks in the beginning of September. That’s 3 weeks that I desperately wish I could get back, as each week that I was involved was a huge week of growth for me.

-Pay attention to everything. You might not understand why Mark does something at first, but ask questions when you can. If you’re in front of a client, make a mental note to ask later, but leave no stone unturned when it comes to the magic that Mark works. You’ll regret it when its too late, trust me.

-Have fun! A lot of photographers get wrapped up in stress and technicalities, but Mark and Leah are really, really awesome people and a ton of fun to hang out with. Be relaxed, follow directions, soak it all up.

I can’t begin to explain how honored I am that I was able to be a part of the LeahAndMark.com team, even if only for a few short months. I can only hope that Mark and Leah keep in touch and that our friendship lasts for years to come.

Photography. Internship. Atlanta. Photos. Program. Training. Reviews.