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FORUMS Post Processing, Marketing & Presenting Photos The Business of Photography 
Thread started 01 Apr 2009 (Wednesday) 11:47
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Internship, Apprenticeship, Etc

 
louieabellera
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Apr 01, 2009 11:47 |  #1

Where do I find one? How picky should I be? What questions should I ask?

I'm currently at a crossroads in life. I'm 19 and I've been accepted into an arts school and I'm debating whether or not I should go into debt to learn things that I could learn on my own (well, around 80% I could learn on my own), from books and the interwebz.

I've read around, especially here on the forums...lots of good stuff on the school vs not school argument.

A lot of people suggested internships and apprenticeships, but where do I go about finding photographers that want newbies asking them questions all the time? Craigslist? Here on the forums? Just merely asking around?

I've posted on Craigslist saying I want to be an assistant, but most of the responses I've gotten are assistants to be wedding photographers and I dont exactly enjoy doing weddings. Am I wrong for saying 'thanks but no thanks'? How picky could/should I be? What other things should I be looking for in apprenticeships?

Any and all advice will be sincerely appreciated.

And if you're a photographer around the Chicagoland/NW 'Burbs area looking for an assistant, hit me up!




  
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HammerCope
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Apr 01, 2009 11:53 |  #2

If it were me to do again. I would not be picky. Go work for them 6mo to 1year or so. then move on to a new one. You will pick-up something from all of them. That is if their good at what they do.


Pete
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louieabellera
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Apr 01, 2009 12:13 |  #3

What if they arent good at what they do? What if they want me to help them shoot 8 hour days with no pay?




  
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HammerCope
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Apr 01, 2009 14:35 |  #4

Do your leg work first. Make sure they are good. If internships are what you are looking for that what can happen. Some interns get paid some dont. Most of the time if you want to be an assistant then you would get paid. Then they want you to know something they dont want and dont have time to completely train you.


Pete
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louieabellera
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Apr 01, 2009 17:49 |  #5

cool thanks!




  
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Alleh
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Apr 01, 2009 20:15 |  #6

You just have to put in the leg work and track down all of the major photographers in your area. www.asmp.com (external link) should have a decent list to start with. When I first started out I found it worked best to send an email explaining yourself and letting them know that you will be calling and that if they have a specific time that would work best to let you know. That way you already told them you were calling so it won’t be unexpected. Photographers are often busy so if you leave loop holes they will often just brush it aside. Once you get them on the phone let them know what you are doing and try and see if they will meet you in person. Most of them are going to want to see some printed samples of your work just to make sure you actually have a real interest in photography. You really have to prove to them that you are ambitious, photography is a very hard and competitive industry and unless you really truly want it most people fail.

Once you learn the ropes and have a couple good references then you can move onto assisting. That way you can get paid to learn. Just use the same tactics when looking for assisting work.


Advertising Photographer Portland OR Alleh Lindquist (external link) | Twitter (external link) | Photography Business Blog (external link) | My Flickr (external link)

  
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Alleh
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Apr 01, 2009 20:20 |  #7

louieabellera wrote in post #7644980 (external link)
What if they arent good at what they do? What if they want me to help them shoot 8 hour days with no pay?

Commercial photographers won’t ever have you shoot. If you don't want to do weddings skip those people. You probably won’t find anyone on CL.


Advertising Photographer Portland OR Alleh Lindquist (external link) | Twitter (external link) | Photography Business Blog (external link) | My Flickr (external link)

  
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louieabellera
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Apr 01, 2009 20:32 |  #8

awesome. thanks




  
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sfaust
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Apr 01, 2009 20:40 |  #9

Alleh wrote in post #7648087 (external link)
Commercial photographers won’t ever have you shoot.

I shoot all commercial work and I always make sure I give interns a chance to shoot, and know many other commercial photographers that do as well. They are generally working for free (schools don't allow payment), and there to learn. Not allowing them the opportunity to use the equipment and shoot is IMO a disservice to them. Granted, they won't be shooting on a high end clients shoots, but in the studio when there isn't as much going one, or having them shoot behind the scenes images for my website, absolutely.

With assistants, I usually don't let them shoot since they are being paid for being there to assist me, not there for free to learn. There are times I'd like to have some additional images, and in those cases I may ask them to shoot. And if any of the work is for the clients, then I pay them as a second photographer and and not as an assistant.

I would advise, as others suggest, to do your leg work. Ask these questions of any potential photographer before making any commitment. Be selective, and don't jump on the first opportunity just because its been offered. Its like looking for a job, and will take time to find the right match. You want to get along well, receive fair compensation for your time based on what you learn. If you stop learning and feel like an unpaid servant, its time to move on. But as long as you feel you are learning something useful, and its worth your time, it can be a great relationship with the right person.


Stephen
Commercial Photography (external link)

  
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Pyromaniac
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Apr 01, 2009 21:42 |  #10

If you haven't seen this thread it's about 4 pages long and all about intern v assistant and paid v unpaid. Its not quite the same as what you asked but you may find some useful tid-bits in it.

Something to keep in mind is that the only way you'll get an "internship" from almost any company in any business is if you are a student. The point of an internship is for someone going to school for that profession to get some practical experience in the field before they graduate. With thing being what they are these days if your not in school and "interning" or haven't graduated or have some kind of formal training finding someplace that will bring you in and train you via OJT is going to hard (this applies to any profession, not just photography).

A second thing to think about is that employers want almost everyone they hire to have degree of some sort, unless you are a cashier of work in fast food. Look through the help wanted ads in the paper or on-line, you will see jobs listed that simply require a four year degree, it doesn't matter what the degree is in as long as you have one.




  
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PhotosGuy
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Apr 02, 2009 07:48 |  #11

What if they want me to help them shoot 8 hour days with no pay?

You are being paid. You're trading your time for learning the business.

So You Want To Be A Photographers Assistant


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Tarzanman
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Apr 02, 2009 08:02 |  #12

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




  
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sfaust
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Apr 02, 2009 09:06 |  #13

Tarzanman wrote in post #7650778 (external link)
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.


Stephen
Commercial Photography (external link)

  
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Tarzanman
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Apr 03, 2009 10:54 |  #14

..... all that being said, there is still very little (no) reason to slave yourself to a photographer for no compensation.




  
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sfaust
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Apr 04, 2009 15:12 |  #15

You're right, it's not for everyone, especially if one feel its enslavement rather than a barter arrangement. There are other ways to get the same info, although usually at cost rather than trading time. It's just another option to add to the mix, and from the inquiries pros get all the time, a very popular one.


Stephen
Commercial Photography (external link)

  
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