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I've been actively interviewing a few potential candidates for the internship openings and I've come to a few clear conclusions about what I want and what I don't want as well as some general notes:
-Everything that has a beginning has an end. For every position there will be a clear start and end date. This keeps everyone on track and focused without any uncertainty about the finite length of the term. This allows me to know when your assistance to me ends and when we need to transition out your responsibilities. This also allows us an overview of how to work towards a specific goal for your development. If and when a long-term paid position opens up we will end your internship and bring you onboard full-time in that capacity.
-Figure out a way to fit into the machine. In the beginning I will show you the diagram for my business model. Your level of involvement extends only so far as you are useful. So I expect you to find a way to be useful. Of course you'll still be doing grunt work. But I won't limit you to how you can improve upon the model and provide more value to the brand. Suggest ideas to me. Surprise me. But in a good way. Be resourceful, innovative and proactive. But please ask me before making any drastic moves.
-NDA. If you come onboard as an intern/assistant you will be required to sign a non-disclosure agreement. I'm not one for contracts or anything but this piece of paper reminds you that you've sworn an oath of secrecy about the information/knowledge/events that transpire at the studio. Few are privy to this information and if you successfully land a position as an intern, then you'll see things at the bleeding edge that you need to keep to yourself. Competition is fierce and partially for that reason, I keep my blog posts a good step behind realtime. What happens at the studio stays at the studio.
-Ask how you can help. The best assistant I've ever had was not an assistant but a friend. He taught me what it meant to be a good assistant. He constantly asked me, "What can I do to help?" Here's the thing. I can usually do everything myself. Which begs the question, "If I can do things myself, then what are you doing here?" That's the million dollar question. But if you understand that I have a hard time asking for help, you should ask me what you can do to help me. If you ask me, I should think of something and hopefully put you to good use. If I can't put you to good use, then you are superfluous. You don't want to be superfluous because I don't keep superfluous people around. A good rule of thumb to ensure you never get fired (at any organization) is to make yourself to critical to the operations of the organization. That's what you should strive for at any position whether here or otherwise.
-When not to ask questions. I don't like using assistants at my shoots usually for the following reasons; Usually photographers that offer to assist do it once so they can figure out your lighting and then they walk away with that knowledge, never to return again. It takes more time for me to train an assistant than it takes for an assistant to glean an inordinate amount of knowledge watching me shoot. Secondly, assistants in the past have been more troublesome than they've been helpful. Primarily because they ask questions during the shoot which distracts me from being able to focus on the interactions with the model, client, etc. During a photoshoot you should be an "invisible hand". Your presence should never distract me or anyone from the shoot unless I specifically request that you entertain a client/model/talent for a very specific reason (like taking a mother's attention away from dominating the conversation over her model daughter). I am well aware that you will have questions but you need to write them down and ask me when the shoot is over. Don't ask me between sets, even. I can answer your questions but if I have to answer your questions then I can't concentrate on the next set. And this isn't a private workshop between you and me.
-Be predictable in your scheduling. Some of you are going to be with me more often than others. But if you have an unpredictable schedule that is unreliable to me, then I can't use you. I am well aware that this is an unpaid internship and you will have to take on other jobs to make ends meet. But if you can't plan your schedule out more than 1 week in advance, then I can't count on you for the events (big or small) that are coming up. I don't plan on a whim. I'm very calculating and I know my risks/odds when I make my decisions. The less uncertainty I can remove from any situation the better. The more reliable/dependable you are, the more important you can/will be to the studio's operation.
-Be proactive. Seriously. Be proactive. I can't be your babysitter. You need to operate with a fair amount of autonomy and be useful to be successful as an intern. On the other hand...
-Know your limits. You need to understand that this is all new to me too. I typically operate a one-man-show so it's a learning process and a growing pain for me to delegate. With that said, I'm extremely particular about how I do things. Everything is specific down to how I wrap the power cables (with the ball bungees) including where I place each cable. I'm open-minded to improving the process if it can be improved but otherwise it would behoove you to learn how I do things because I'm a very efficiency and logistically-oriented person. If you misplace something, I'll know you misplaced it and that will hinder my flow. It will be a good idea for you to shadow me closely and quietly for the first week or two of your term. Fitting into the existing machine is paramount. Improving the machine is only possible after you understand the machine.
-Use common sense and common courtesy. Be polite. Be courteous. Try not to step on anyone's toes. Exercise caution in your words and actions. If I invite you over to be an intern, you are essentially a guest at the studio. While I want you to be comfortable and operate effectively, I need you to be sensitive about what I'm doing here. This is a business at the end of the day. As an intern of the studio you are a representative of the studio. Be cognizant of that fact and put your best foot forward not only with me but towards the people that you interact with at the studio. I do a lot of business based on referrals. I have models that I shot TF with years ago that now pay me to either shoot their portfolio or their lookbooks when they become designers. These relationships are worth their weight in gold. Exercise care when interacting with everyone in your capacity as a WELDON BOND STUDIOS intern.
-What you'll see. Everything. If you can be useful and follow the above rules. You'll see everything. You'll of course get to see the front-end of the operations and you will also get to see my post work and how I make my decisions realtime including business decisions. When the opportunities arise, probably once a week we can go over any questions you have about what you see. The rest of the time you need to basically not get in the way. Be useful but be useful quietly and efficiently. When you're watching, don't interrupt the process. As I mentioned above, this isn't a private workshop. You will glean a world of information/knowledge just by watching. Don't shortchange yourself that experience by talking and narrating the process. If you can't learn by watching quietly then you don't fit in here as an intern.