Student Spotlight: Maria del Rio on InternshipsPosted: July 12, 2012
Your name: Maria del Rio / www.delriophotography.com
Classes taken at CCSF: Business Practices of Photography, Ambient Lighting, Beginning Studio Lighting, Digital Negatives for the Darkroom
Career Goal: To wake up every morning loving my job as a full time freelance editorial, portrait, and fashion photographer
Interning with: Alex Farnum / www.afarnum.com/
Best experience so far: All of it! (and I’m not exaggerating). I get super excited when I get to go into the studio or on set with Alex. I’ve had the opportunity to support him with small local photoshoots, large advertising shoots, and each one has been packed with information that I never could have learned anywhere else but out in the field. It’s overwhelming, but in a good way. After a day on set, I rush home to pack my notebook with as many notes as possible so I don’t forget things.
Most important thing learned: There’s no substitute for perseverance and determination. Alex really believed in himself and went after his first big job when he was relatively new to photography. He took risks and he believed in his own skill, which led others to do the same. Its inspiring. Also that the way you treat others is key, Alex is such a great people person, he’s genuine to everyone he meets and people really respect him for that and ultimately want to continue to work with him as a result. His way of doing business is more based on integrity and kindness above anything else. Photographing people is really about connecting with them.
Most surprising thing learned: That I still have such a long way to go. I’m just at the beginning of my journey and building a solid photography career isn’t just about loving to take photos, its about business, and putting in lots of effort for what can be a very slow return process. I think I kept expecting there to be some “big break”. I’ve learned it won’t happen overnight, but hard work always pays off. Just in the last month and a half that I’ve begun interning, suddenly all these other opportunities have been popping up for me. Small gigs here and there, assisting jobs, and new chances to network with other creative people.
How did CCSF help prepare you? I’ve learned so much from the classes I’ve taken at CCSF, I’m constantly challenged. Receiving the Cherkis Scholarship was great because it prepared me for how to show my work in galleries. After showing at CCSF I was accepted into another space with my series and I felt prepared for how to navigate the system, and really reached out to Rene from the gallery for advice along the way. Prof. Erika Gentry really pushed me outside my comfort zone. I knew I wanted to pursue photography but I didn’t have the slightest idea how to do it or where to begin. She took the time to meet with me and give me guidance on how to go about getting an internship and not selling myself short. That’s what I appreciate most, that the staff and faculty don’t just stop once class is over, they act as mentors around the clock and really work hard to foster growth among the students.
Advice to other photography students seeking an internship: Be persistent and know what you want. I started with a list of which photographers I admired and wanted to work with. After that I got help writing a really solid letter introducing myself and then encouraged me to follow up with a phone call. I was scared of being rejected and definitely expecting to be ignored but Prof. Gentry put things in perspective for me and encouraged me to be assertive. I would definitely encourage other students to do the same. It’s easy to fall into a passive role as a student, but your experience will be so much richer if you really advocate for yourself and go after what you are looking for. I knew I wanted experience in the field on professional photoshoots. I expressed this goal to the photographers I approached and explained what I could offer in exchange. I ultimately found a great fit for an internship where I have the opportunity to be mentored by someone I totally admire. I think a lot of student photographers think they can just go straight from class to a high paying photo career, buts its not that simple. You really have to slow down and enjoy the learning process. And never stop asking questions.