Joel Hawksley is a senior studying photojournalism at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. Originally from Kent, Ohio, he recently completed a summer internship at The Seattle Times. He was also a student at this year’s Eddie Adams Workshop in Jeffersonville, New York. Last summer, he interned at the Grand Rapids Press. His work has been recognized by Sportsshooter.com, the Ohio Newspaper Photographers Association, and College Photographer of the Year.
How was your internship structured?
My internship lasted ten weeks. I shot on average 1-2 assignments a day.
Who was your supervisor or mentor?Â Â What did you learn from that person?
I had several. Kevin Fujii was my supervisor, and was the one who hired me for the internship. Kevin taught me a lot, especially when it came to being a better journalist. I knew coming into the internship that this was something I needed to work on, and he definitely set me in the right direction.
Staff photographer ErikaÂ Schultz was my mentor. On my first day at The Times, she took me under her wing and gave me of ideas for my time in Seattle. It was one of the best parts of my experience at the paper, because I was able to bounce ideas off her before taking them to the editors.
Other members of the staff helped me in various ways throughout the summer. Photographer Dean Rutz showed me the ropes at my first MLS game, and helped me get comfortable in the professional sports environment, which was new to me at the time.
Barry Fitzsimmons, the Director of Photography, helped me edit some of my larger assignments. He also sent me on two of my favorite assignments of the summer, multi-day excursions out into the state of Washington.
Photo editor Fred Nelson provided invaluable adviceÂ almost daily when it came to approaching my assignments. He made sure that I was prepared for whatever I had coming, whether it was knowing the best route to beat the afternoon traffic home from an shoot or strategies for working with the Seattle Police Department.
Describe the environment/dynamic of the photo department.
Inspiring. Every day I went into the office, I was inspired by the people with which I had theÂ privilege of working. There is energy everywhere, especially in the late afternoon when the editorial staff gathers around the desks of the picture editors and discusses the images that have been selected for the next day’s paper. It was incredible to see the dedication and purpose carried by every member of the staff, especially as they pursued personal and long term projects, which was common.
What was your favorite assignment and why?
My favorite assignment was traveling toÂ Gifford Pinchot National Forest for the Rainbow Family gathering. I spent two days documenting the 20,000-person congregation of the most incredible people I have ever met.
What was the most important thing you learned?
I learned to always hold myself to the highest standard professionally. In this day and age, it is the accuracy and ethics of newspapers like The Seattle Times that makes them invaluable to the communities they serve. It is our responsibility as journalists to hold ourselves to be the best we can be.
Whatâ€™s the best part about this internship?
Learning and growing from my experiences through my assignments and working with the rest of the staff. I also enjoyed only having 1-2 assignments per day, as it allowed me more time to prepare myself before I went out to shoot, which I know helped me make better images in the end.
What’s the most difficult part about this internship?
It’s difficult to land in a new city and start finding great photo ideas right away. It was hard for me to come up with ideas for things that hadn’t already been covered by the paper in the past. That being said, my mentor Erika helped me find a few projects to work on that the paper could use, which was a huge help.
Did you set a goal for your internship?
To develop myself as a photojournalist and as a human being.
Describe your personal and professional growth during the internship.
I really learned to look for meaning in what I shoot. I traditionally viewed my images in an aesthetic and emotional manner, but did little to consider what they would mean to readers and how they could be interpreted in different ways, depending on who was looking at them. Professionally, I feel that I grew the most in my approach to shooting features, which is definitely my weakest skill. I had a few occasions to shoot alongside the other staffers, and it really helped me understand how to work in certain situations to make the best possible image that tells the story of the assignment.
Was it a paid internship?
What helped you get the internship?
I got an email reminding me of the deadline, the day or two before materials were due. Luckily for me, the paper accepts electronic portfolios/applications, so I was able to turn my stuff in before the deadline.
What will you do next?
I am headed back to Ohio University for my Senior year. I also did the Eddie Adams Workshop this fall. I have a few options for after I graduate, but none of them are set in stone.
Check here for more information about an internship at The Seattle Times.