Taylor Glascock recently graduated from the University of Missouri with an undergraduate degree in photojournalism with a minor in film studies. While in school, she worked as a photographer and photo editor at the Columbia Missourian, and just finished a summer internship at The Columbus Dispatch. Currently, Taylor is on a fall internship at The Dallas Morning News. In addition to traditional editorial photojournalism, she has done photography on the film sets of Anchor Bay’s A Horrible Way to Die and Lionsgate’s upcoming You’re Next. She is also a writer and creator behind the satirical site Sh*t Photojournalists Like.
How was your internship structured?
My internship at The Columbus Dispatch lasted three months, and I’d typically have one or two assignments a day.
If it was a slow day, I would go feature-hunting. Looking for features isn’t my strong suit, but some days it was really nice to hop in one of the press cars and just see where the road would take me. Since I wasn’t from Columbus, I got to discover all kinds of beautiful, little places I wouldn’t have found otherwise.
Who was your supervisor or mentor?Â Â What did you learn from that person?
I don’t think she realizes it, but I always considered Brooke LaValley to be my unofficial mentor (HI BROOKE!). I was a nervous wreck on my first day of work, and it was so comforting to find a little note from Brooke in my locker telling me that I was going to be great, despite the fact that she had only met me once before. She approached everything with enthusiasm and taught me how to be more confident in myself and my work. It’s really hard to choose, though, because the whole staff took me under their wings as what Brooke called “the littlest intern,” haha.
Describe the environment/dynamic of the department.
Most of the photographers at The Dispatch have been there 20+ years or so. It was quite a transition for me to go from working with other 20-somethings at The Columbia Missourian to being the youngest person on staff. I loved it, though. The staffers all worked so hard on everything, even if it was an event they’d covered for the umpteenth time. Some of my friends have mentioned the discontent and general burned-out attitude some of the staff photographers they met at their internships, but I never saw that at the Dispatch. Everyone was kind, helpful, and always totally killed it when they went on assignment.
What was your favorite assignment and why?
My favorite assignment was working with Hannah Wackernagle, a special needs student that joined the varsity cheerleading squad. Most daily assignments are very short; an hour here, an hour there. In this case, I got to spend a whole evening with Hannah, and it felt so wonderful to have the chance to connect with someone and get to know them instead of just introducing myself and shooting away. I wanted to work with Hannah more and maybe pursue a story, but unfortunately I got so caught up in daily work that it didn’t happen.
What was the most important thing you learned?
Always ask for help, even if youâ€™re embarrassed.
My only sports experience before The Dispatch was shooting basketball, so when Friday night football season rolled around, I was terrified. Jonathan Quilter was editing and one of the main sports shooters, Kyle Robertson, was at the desk when I approached and asked for help shooting that night. They were so kind and funny about the whole thing. Jonathan drew me this scribbly little map and Kyle sort of acted out a couple of plays. They were so encouraging and by the time the game started, I wasnâ€™t nervous anymore.
Whatâ€™s the best part about this internship? What’s the most difficult part about this internship?
One of the best parts of The Dispatch was the location. I had never been there before I got the internship, but Columbus is a really awesome city. The downtown area isnâ€™t huge, but there is a great arts district.
The most difficult part of the internship was that you do most of your editing on your own. You don’t get feedback automatically, but it’s always there if you ask. If anything, I became better at self-editing and really learned what worked and didn’t work for the paper.
Did you set a goal for your internship?
Before I graduated from the University of Missouri, I had spent most of my last semester working on stories, and my last month and a half at school was dedicated to all night shoots as a still photographer on a film set, plus attending classes. It was an amazing experience, but it took a lot out of me (just ask my friends, I was a zombie) . Because of that, I decided to dedicate my time at the Dispatch to working on my singles.Â Knowing how to tell a story is important, but being able to go out and totally nail a photo in a 30 minute shoot that you can’t return to is just as important.
â€¨Describe your personal and professional growth during the internship.
It was my first internship at a newspaper, and it was right after I graduated from college, so I was going through a huge transition. When youâ€™re in college you have this support group, and then boom, youâ€™re on your own. It gave me a lot of time to think about what I was doing and why I was doing it. While I was in school and doing film shoots, I never thought that I wanted to pursue work at a daily paper, but this changed my mind completely.
What helped you get the internship?
I think there’s a serious misconception about what makes a good portfolio; there isn’t a checklist of photos you need to include. Yes, you do want to show that you can handle a variety of situations, but I think an editor would rather see your unique personal vision rather than the typical “spot news, peak sports action, feature” kind of portfolio. With my work, I tried to show how I alone see things, not how I thought they wanted me to see things, if that makes any sense.
Also, I always try to invoke my sense of humor in my cover letter, biography, or wherever else I’m using words instead of pictures. Editors are looking at your skills set first, but they also have to consider whether or not you’re a good fit for the paper. If you work hard AND you can goof around with the staffers, itâ€™s a major plus.
What will you do next?
I’m currently working at The Dallas Morning News in Texas, and I’ll be there until January. I’m in the process of sending out more applications, so we’ll see what happens.
Is there anything else youâ€™d like to add?
If I were reading this, I would want someone to tell me, “Don’t be so hard on yourself!” My mentor at TDMN is Sonya Hebert, and she and I had this very discussion on my first day. She told me, “You are not your photos,” and she’s right. Give your all to every assignment, but don’t beat yourself up if your photos aren’t perfect. Sometimes a shot of people waiting in line is just a shot of people waiting in line, and nothing more. Donâ€™t stress.
To Apply: â€¨Cover Letter, CD Portfolio, Resume
Lisa Marie Miller, Photo Editor
The Columbus Dispatch
34 S. 3rd Street
Columbus, Ohio 43215