Work experience is one of those irritating things in any career path that they normally want you to have had some previous work experience to get onto a work experience placement. Stupid. I know.
Getting work experience in the industry is always a good thing to have even if you don’t want to necessarily go into that specific line of work. It opens you up to a lot more opportunities and its fantastic for networking. I have worked in a couple of studios, one of them being a food photography studio called Factory Studio in London which isn’t a genre I would normally go for, but it was worth it to see how that area works and meeting contacts.
You will find if you get experience in a working studio that you will spend most of your day making cups of tea and coffee as the industry runs off the stuff. You will be asked to run errands and basically be the bitch of the studio. Sometimes you may find a studio that gets you fully involved and shooting, but it depends on who works there and what they are like and also what clients are in. In Factory Studio I was doing image research, helping with illustrations for Higgidy Pies cook book, photographing all the crockery in the building as it has 3 working kitchens for filming and photographing cookery, and running errands. It’s not the most glamourous of things to do, but it makes it worth it by gaining knowledge on how things happen and meeting people.
I was very lucky when I was at college in that I managed to bag a week working in a London studio (Hoxton Street Studios) after a solid 2 months of emailing every studio I could find. I was 16 and had never been into the industry and I had a fucking awesome time. I had the chance to work with New Look and their new range, Sky Sports, Tesco and their christmas catalogue, and meet the photographers and stylists.
Once you have one work experience in the industry, it opens you up to so much more in regards to the industry as people always want to see that you know what you are doing and won’t need to waste someone elses time in showing you what things are and how to do things. The photography industry is a rediculously fast moving one and causes a lot of stress, but knowledge is power and you will find that the more you know, the easier you time will be in studios.
As I said in a past article, I am not primarily a studio photographer, but working in them in the city has opened my eyes and made me know what I want to do as a photographer and how I want to work. Im not saying to everyone that you must have experience, as not everyone wants to work in a studio as it isn’t everyones style, but there is a lot of good basic knowledge that comes with getting work experience in them. You also don’t have to go to a city or big named studio to get experience, if you know a photographer then ask if you could shadow them for a week or so and get them to show you how they work and what they do. The industry is very different to being in a class room and being told what it’s like. As I said earlier, it’s very fast paced.
So, what have we learnt?
- Experience leads to more experience
- The industry runs on caffeine and you need to know how to make a good cuppa
- Be persistent
- Be patient