Learning to make the normal look interesting

By Kelly Zegers

Interning with Heather Walsh was a great way to learn about photography, freelancing and how to present oneself as a journalist.

Walsh is a freelance photojournalist who consistently works for Newsday and The New York Times. With her, I learned what it takes to make the normal look interesting.

I was a part of her first group of interns ever, and I’m glad to see that she is continuing the program. It was such a uplifting semester. It was a pleasure to work with someone who knows so much about photography and professionalism, someone who also cared about each intern’s respective interests and recognized and praised our individual strengths. She really took the time to get to know us and how we want to make a mark in journalism.

One of the best parts about the internship was photo assisting. I accompanied Walsh on a few photo shoots for both Newsday and The New York Times. She does a lot of portrait work, and I learned that there is a world of difference between portraits and  breaking news or sports photography.  Working with Walsh on these shoots helped me gain self-awareness in how I approach people with a camera. It’s important to be sensitive to the subjects, especially if they are self-conscious about their looks from the outset. Walsh is really responsive to the behaviors and personalities of others, which helped her subjects feel comfortable. This really struck me, and I hope to take it with me no matter what medium I am working in.

I learned how much patience and carefulness goes into getting the best shot possible, capturing the moment when skill, lighting and emotion all come together. Weeks later, it was so gratifying to see the work in print, knowing that I helped out, even in a small way, and knowing what it took to get the selected shots.

I learned how important it is to be well prepared. It’s always good to have backups because, chances are, you’ll need them. Memory cards fill up, wireless flashes don’t connect, batteries run out of juice.

Every week, we met at Gallery North, a studio less than five minutes down the road from campus. There, we worked on Heather’s photography blog, offering our skills in social media and WordPress. Other days she would show us how to be good photo assistants and demonstrate how to use off-camera flash and lighting.

Walsh stressed the importance of presenting our work professionally, not only to help advance our careers, but also to show others that we are proud of the work we produce.