Assistants & Internships
by William Lulow
In the field of photography, or any artistic field for that matter, an internship presupposes that the period of time the intern works is sufficiently long so that he or she is able actually to see how the business or art is done and to participate in a learning environment. I have seen far too many people posting notices on work boards both electronic and actual, looking for “internships” of a week or a couple of days. Those artists are looking for ASSISTANTS. Assistants should not work for “no pay.” If an artist needs help with a job, or in her studio, or with a lighting problem, she needs to PAY SOMEONE for their help. An “internship” for a week or two is not an internship. Also, young, aspiring photographers or artists should NEVER accept these kinds of false internships no matter what the promise of “exposure,” portfolio “building” opportunities or the like. Far too many neophytes are looking for any kind of work, even if they have to work for free. THIS SHOULD NOT HAPPEN! When I ran my studio in Manhattan, I had interns from colleges like Pratt or Parsons or SVA for the full 16-week semester. They got college credit AND I paid them a weekly salary for their experiences and work.
So, don’t be fooled into thinking that you will actually learn anything valuable in two weeks. If a photographer needs help on a job, he has to HIRE an assistant and PAY for the services. After all, it’s a billable expense! If a photographer has enough work to hire assistants, they need to be paid for their work. That way, everyone will feel good about their work.