Maddie McGarvey is a senior at Ohio University and interned at the San Francisco Chronicle this past summer. She is the President of Ohio Universityâ€™s chapter of National Press Photographers Association and is the current student representative for NPPA. She recently won the LUCEO Student Project Award with her story on grandparents raising their grandchildren in Ohio.
How was your internship structured?
My internship was about 11 weeks long. I worked 5 days a week and had anywhere from one to three assignments a day.Â Â Luckily, it was a paid internship that treated me very well.Â I was given a car, camera equipment and a laptop for the summer. More information can be found here. I would normally go into work, shoot an assignment or two, and come back to the office to get my take edited if I wasnâ€™t on a tight deadline. My assignments were anywhere from a few miles away to an hour away. I got a variety of assignment from shooting Aâ€™s and Giants games to portraits of an â€œecosexualâ€ couple.
What was the most important thing you learned?
I learned an incredible amount on my internship.Â Judy Walgren, the Director of Photography, was a great mentor. She really pushed me to see in new ways, use lenses I normally wouldnâ€™t use and keep going back if I didnâ€™t get it right the first time. She also trusted me to shoot a few A1 stories and seeing my photos on the front of the paper was always an incredible feeling. I also learned to get more organized, trust my gut, and get out there and shoot everyday. Going from a small town to a big city was definitely an interesting change, but I learned how to navigate and manage shooting assignments every day.
Whatâ€™s the best part about this internship? What’s the most difficult part about this internship?
The best part about the internship was being able to take photos everyday in the coolest city in the world. San Francisco is an incredible and accepting city, surrounded by beauty everywhere you look. And in some odd way, that made it more difficult to shoot there at times. Coming from shooting in Appalachia every day to a big beautiful city was a little tough. Itâ€™s just an entirely different environment. But it really pushed me to get out of my bubble and see different things. One of the most challenging things initially was navigating the city and getting used to how long it takes to get places. But other than that, it was great.
Describe your personal and professional growth during the internship.
This was my first internship, so I learned a LOT about how newspapers worked. I also learned how to work under a deadline.Â Initially the rush of only having a small amount of time to complete an assignment and get the photos captioned and toned and sent back to the office was overwhelming, but I learned to enjoy it.Â I learned to shoot with more than just a 35 and shoot sports (sort of!).Â The photo staff was really awesome and always helped me edit when I asked. They made it really difficult to leave at the end of the internship. On a personal level, I lived alone for the first time in my life and that taught me a lot about myself.Â I also learned a lot more street sense and to trust your gut feeling when you think something is wrong (especially while carrying around thousands of dollars worth of gear).
What was your favorite assignment and why?
My favorite assignment was following around a woman for a day who had been diagnosed with Alzheimerâ€™s disease after studying it for years. She now participates in the same clinical trials that she helped develop. It was so nice to spend the entire day with her, which involved using public transportation to get to an Alzheimerâ€™s clinic several towns away. That was a bit of a struggle for both of us, but we both learned a lot and had a great day. It ended up running A1 with a big spread inside.
Did you set a goal for your internship?
I really wanted to shoot a story on my own this summer. I wanted to continue on a story I worked on in Ohio about grandparents raising their grandchildren and Judy really encouraged me to do so. She told me I could take as much time as I needed to work on it. Unfortunately I hit a lot of dead ends and didnâ€™t find a suitable family until the end of my internship. But I got to spend some time with a wonderful Native American family raising their great grandchildren and Iâ€™m very thankful for meeting and spending time with them.
Is there anything else youâ€™d like to add?
The San Francisco Chronicle was truly a great place to work. They have a wonderful and helpful photo staff, a wide variety of assignments and you get to live in the most wonderful city in the world (in my opinion).Â If you get the internship, definitely push yourself to explore a TON, ask a lot of questions and get your work edited by the staff. You definitely have to put in the effort to succeed there too, but itâ€™s an amazing place to be.
What will you do next?
Good question. Iâ€™m graduating from Ohio University in June and then weâ€™ll see! Iâ€™m applying for some internships, but no plans are set in stone yet.
The deadline to apply for the San Francisco Chronicle’s summer 2012 internship is December 30, 2011 and the application process is online here.