Every morning, I walk into the West Village studio that overlooks the Hudson at 8:50am. I open the doors, the shades, turn on the lights, make the coffee, tidy up before the others arrive- I depend on these 10 minutes before 9am. This brief moment gives me a short-lived sense of clarity before I jump into the sudden, and often times dizzying day ahead.
Working as a production intern for Mark Seliger, a photographer lauded for his celebrity portraiture and uncanny ability to capture the quintessential things that make us unique, is not easy.
For example: If you ever needed a free appaloosa horse or old 1970s convertible muscle car, I can easily say I’m your girl to call. Such a statement may seem irrelevant, but such asks are not out of the ordinary when it comes to organizing a photo shoot. Obviously my internship doesn’t solely consist of acquiring horses and cars, but a major part of my job is making the impossible possible. Beyond reaching out to agents, publicists, and other figures of authority in the realm of production, I’m tasked with keeping track of a million moving parts in order to maintain a stress-free work environment (I’m not sure if I’ve succeeded in this, but I try).
My second day on the job I found myself completely disoriented as I experienced my first photo shoot. Amidst my running from task to task, I was also responsible for checking call sheets, contacting agents, updating itineraries, fetching the “venti half cafs with unsweetened coconut milk,” and doing whatever else was asked of me.
Now having been about a month later, I still find myself adrift. Yet, there is a point of no return wherein you learn the rituals and routines of the studio. The quirky jobs become normal, and the time-sensitive tasks stay time-sensitive but lose the shock value of the speediness required.
It’s difficult to outline my daily routine at the studio because every day invites a new challenge. Whether it be contacting 8 bookstores to find an obscure magazine or helping plan a photo shoot on the road, my internship constantly keeps me on my toes. Although my duties are unpredictable, one thing that stays consistent is the awareness of basic human interaction. The majority of this internship is learning to behave accordingly when working with individuals that have diverse backgrounds, skill-sets, opinions, and varying levels of education. It took time before I understood how to address those in higher positions of power and recognize the questions to ask when those who have the answers don’t have the time to listen. When the impossible is asked of you, you learn to make it possible, and when you’re tasked with finding a horse and car for a photo shoot, you make it happen. I end my days tidying up and double checking all of my work, I walk home in the muggy air and acknowledge the fact that I accomplished at least one thing that day. Working in the production department means everything is time-sensitive which obviously adds a layer of stress, but nevertheless, braving such challenges makes me recognize the high reward that stems from this internship.
Experiences like Natalie’s are made possible by the Whitman Internship Grant, which provides funding for students to participate in unpaid internships at both for-profit and non-profit organizations. To learn how you could secure a Whitman Internship Grant or host a Whitman intern at your organization, click here or contact Assistant Director for Internship Programs Victoria Wolff