Thursday, March 31, 2011

Conversation with an Intern

I recently had a conversation with a potential intern. She is a makeup artist/hair stylist that is soon graduating from school and possibly seeking an internship. I had a brief conversation with her and the main points of the conversation were:

-Does not want to work in a salon
-Wants to travel the world
-Loves photoshoots

The great thing about this candidate is that she is a great PA, is a part-time model (and a good-looking one at that), AND does makeup and hair. Seems like a perfect fit, no?

But what I wanted to know is "How are you going to travel the world doing hair for photoshoots... without working in a salon?" Basically I sincerely asked (because I did not know the answer),
"How are you going to achieve this?" Unfortunately I don't think she had thought that part out because she didn't have an answer.

As far as interning, I played devil's advocate and suggested that this position was more for photographers. I said, "I'm not sure if doing accounting, basic Photoshop, waiting in line for pizza at Coscto's is going to further your hair/makeup career".

Basically I asked her, "Are you sure you want this?"

Maybe I'm an extremely convincing person and I have Jedi mind-tricks that I don't know about. But without saying very much I convinced her that this wasn't a good fit for her. The reality is that this internship isn't a good fit for her. And I understand that age 20 it's still early in the game and there's plenty of time left to figure out what you want to do. But I'm looking for someone who is willing to go the extra mile. Someone who is proactive. Someone with a little gusto and drive. Essentially I'm looking for someone who can't be convinced that this isn't the right fit for you.

And I'm not saying this to berate anyone, because it's really a learning lesson for everyone including myself. Everyone hates rejection. Probably no one more so than me. But you have to want something and want something bad enough to prove that you deserve it. That's probably the singular most important lesson that I've learned from doing what I do. Nothing comes easy and nothing comes free. If you aren't willing to cry, sweat, and bleed then you shouldn't become a photographer. Because it's a
hard knock life.

A good friend said it best when he said, "It's very hard to make money doing something that others are willing to do for free".

Which is why the older photographers complain when new photographers jump into agencies offering unpaid tests left and right. And while that's
exactly how you get into agencies these days, it's also the best example of how difficult it is to make money in testing models. It pretty much doesn't happen anymore.

But if you love what you do and you aren't afraid to fail and you won't be told no for an answer... you'll go far.

Of course now that I publicly stated this, I'm got to make it even harder for those of you that do call me ;)


  1. As a novice photographer looking to become professional, this blog has given me a new insight into the dedication and uncompromising standards needed to succeed. I absolutely wish I could fly to LA and meet you to see if I have what it takes to be your intern. I'm passionate about fashion photography, model part-time with an agency here in Australia, and would gladly push your paper/pick up your pizza just to soak up your skills!! The only thing keeping me here is my law degree... think you'll have a job for me in 2 more yrs? ;)

    Anyhow, thanks for the excellent posts,
    best of luck finding the perfect intern!!

  2. I can fly to LA, it's not that difficult. You book a flight and some hours later your on LA ready to make your dream come true.

    Best regards

    Thomas dohn