Tarzanman wrote in post #7650778
Make sure you get paid. In this day & age of photography, there's little reason to work 8 hours for nothing.
You no longer need a darkroom, chemicals and film to develop film or tweak photos. In the past, working as an assistant would get you access and exposure to the kinds of tools & equipment that you otherwise would not have a chance to work with.
Today you can do 90% of it with a camera, SD card, computer, and copy of photoshop, so there is no reason to pay an employer for the privilege of taking orders from them
While I agree with this to an extent, I feel it's an oversimplification of what a photographer needs to learn in order to run a successful business. Yes, they can learn a lot by just using their cameras, reading books, practicing, etc. But learning 90% of the job with just a camera, SD card, Photoshop, and practice? Doubtful, at least in any reasonable amount of time, or with any in-depth knowledge of actually running a photography business.
The creation of the images is only a small part of the photography business. For me, I shoot about 30% of the time I devote to my business. The other 70% is filled with business obligations, writing estimates and bids, billing, marketing, dealing with legal and tax issues, doing competitive research, cold calling agencies, filing copyrights, writing contracts, pre-production, and so on.
If all we had to worry about was the ability to take a half decent image, I would mostly agree with your reply. But there is so much more beyond the camera skills, the other 70% of the business, that is best learned from within the industry. Case in point, you can find literally hundreds of books that address lighting, exposure, techniques, etc. But very few that cover the business details in depth, and many of those are really outdated.
One of the things I do with interns, is to make a plan for their 3 months time they will be spending with us. It breaks down specific things they will be exposed to, things I will teach them directly, and areas of independent study that they will do on their own that we then discuss in more detail. About 40% on business, 40% on production, and 20% on technique.
The emphasis is on the business and production since that would be harder for them to learn on their own. I.e., without a constant stream of work coming in, they won't be exposed to the basic issues in a business. They can learn on their own and make costly mistakes, even loose the business, or they can learn from someone that's been there and overcame those issues. Thus, they leave with something they are unlikely to learn on their own without significant time spent in the industry, somewhere, somehow. And they do indeed get a jump start over most other photographers, and have a much better chance at success.
So yes, IMO, there is significant benefit to an internship for both parties if the right marriage is made. The only caveat that I stress, is that its important to choose the right photographer. You want one that has an active interest in teaching the business to the intern, and not just using them to hand them lenses or carry their gear on shoots. Yes, there will be a lot of that, but it must go deeper, and it must be an active goal on the photographers part to teach the business end.
I would suggest interviewing the photographer and asking specifically what the photographer will do in return to help them learn 'the business'. And note the term 'learn the business' is different from the term 'learn photography'. The best thing you can get out of an internship is centered around running the business, as the rest can be learned via self study, workshops, and practice fairly easily.