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3.1 Follow the Leaders

In this lesson you’ll learn how internships and assistant positions can help you gain industry insight, experience, and connections to further grow your business and portfolio.

3.1 Follow the Leaders

In the last lesson, we took a look at your role as a photographer inside the commercial industry. In this lesson, we're going to take a look at how you can break into that industry if you haven't yet. Now, a really good way to do this is with internships. Now what do you get from an internship? If you get a good internship, you're going to get valuable experience. Now, I don't just say that in a very vague term. You should be getting experience working with clients and being on set and learning how a photography shoot should really go in the commercial industry. Sometimes if you're not already in that field, it can be a lot different. And if you've been on a wedding, and you haven't been in on a commercial shoot, then it's a drastly different experience. Next, you're going to the experience that is business experience. That is very valuable for when you set out on your own. If you haven't run your own business, then working with a commercial photographer to see those insights on how client relations work, invoicing, and even cataloging your photos for stock photography. All of these things are really invaluable for when you set out on your own, and you can learn them while doing an internship with another photographer. Internships are great time s to build your portfolio. I took this image when I was in college building my portfolio at an internship. In addition to the skills, insight and portfolio pieces that you'll get out of a photography internship, you might also get the opportunity of having a full-time job of assisting that photographer. A lot of times, in the commercial photography world, there's lots of openings for full-time assistant. For a wedding photographer, they might not hire full-time assistants, because they're not shooting weddings all through the week. So, for an assistant, that would be a part-time job. But in commercial photography, you might work one project for a whole week and then next week, you're on to the next project. That is a great opportunity to get in on the ground floor or even building up a career as an assistant. I have one assistant who is really, really great and I hire them time and time again because they know what I like. They've experienced shooting with me, and they've honed in on my style. And they're able to prep a shoot one step before I ask them to. So by being able to think ahead and work with that photographer, then you can really build up a relationship with them that builds into a full time experience. So now that you know that internships can be useful, how do you go about getting one? First, find a photographer whose work interests you and does the work you wanna do. If you wanna shoot fashion, find a fashion photographer. If you wanna shoot food, find a food photographer. Some genres may overlap, like if you wanna shoot products, then a food photographer really knows how to shoot products, even if they are even more specific and then that product is food. The next step is to simply contact the photographer that you want to work with and see if they have any Internship opportunities. A lot of photographers have built out internship programs that are really efficient and offer invaluable experience. Some photographers might not have that experience of having an intern but they could really use one and would be happy to put something together for you. You'll never know unless you ask. If they do have internship opportunities, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and apply to one. But if they don't already have an internship set up, but they're interested in having you as an intern then that's something you can totally work out. When I had my first internship, I told them straight up I have no idea what I'm doing. I've never had an intern before. But here's whats going to happen. I'm going to tell you whenever I have a shoot, and then you're going to assist me on those shoots, and I'd be happy to answer an questions or give you any information about what I'm doing to help make this a meaningful experience for you. An internship like that is somethings that's really easy to get to and a lot of photographers could accommodate. If you've been waiting for a reply and haven't gotten one yet, be persistent. Sometimes photographers just get overloaded during busy seasons, and emails get lost. Maybe the email didn't even get delivered. Or maybe they thought, that's a really good idea, I should have an intern and just never got around to hitting reply. So if you are persistent in your pursuit of looking for an internship, you'll definitely find one. My last little tip is if they do give you a rejection, know when to stop. Well you want to be persistent, almost to the point that you're a pest. You want to be a nice pest. If they tell you no, that's okay, they're not interested. There are so many photographers out there that you can learn from. Start over step one, research someone that you want to work with, then contact them. See if they have any internship opportunities available. By following these really easy steps, which is simply just looking people up, being human and seeing if they want to have you as an intern. If you follow those, then there's no doubt you'll be able to find a commercial photographer that can give you the experience you're looking for in an internship. Are you interested in weddings, not commercial images? Well, even though you're not a commercial photographer, this advice was real good for any internship. Be persistent, but know when no means no. In this way you can get an internship in any field of your choice now we've looked at how to get an internship so that you can break into the field of commercial photography. In the next lesson, we're going to take a look at how you go about building a portfolio.

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