Category Archives: education

Unpaid internships are exploitation. Period.

I had to write a post, seeing a tweet for Walrus magazine for an unpaid internship. 6 months, 30 hours a week and no pay what so ever. This pisses me off. Big time. I’ve written about working for free before and I’ll say it again. Don’t. Period.

Why? How about the lovely term exploitation? Ring any bells? Yeah, I feel very strongly about this. Working for free does NOT benefit you. Yes, you’ll get on the job learning, but guess what, most business pay YOU to learn how to do your damn job. Your time is valuable, worth money and should be compensated. You aren’t going to an internship, I hope, knowing nothing at all about the job. Chances are, you are fresh out of school and have several years of education to back you up. When you take a job for free, it says very clearly that you put no value on all that time you spent learning how to do something. It also says, you are OK with an employer placing no value on your time either.

Unpaid internships should be banned. Since that is impossible to do, make a point of never accepting one, encourage everyone else not to accept one, rat out the shameful behaviour of these companies who demand one, and stand up and say NO!

Don’t buy any of that bullshit about how it’s an honour to study under a big name professional. Or that what you learn will be worth it, no matter what. They are making money from your labour. They are getting paid. So should you.

Insist on it. Don’t know how to say it? Watch this video. Mike Monteiro will tell you how, in clear plain english.
2011/03 Mike Monteiro | F*ck You. Pay Me. from SanFrancisco/CreativeMornings on Vimeo.

Stand up for yourself, have some self respect, value yourself and your time and demand that they pay you, damn it. Even minimum wage is better by far than free. After all, if someone doing a brain dead minimum wage job actually takes home money, why the hell shouldn’t you?

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Self taught?

I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus from photography for the last month. I went home for a vacation that turned out rather different and longer than expected. After dealing with a lot of things, I am slowly getting back into planning my business and doing research.


One thing I’ve come across often in my research, and it’s a big peeve of mine, is a number of photographers claiming to be self taught. Self taught? Really…When you read more of their biographies, they mention that they’ve had some workshops, maybe learned from so and so. As far as I’m concerned, the vast majority of these people are full of it. If you’ve taken some night classes, the odd workshop here and there, gotten a little mentoring from other photographers, you can hardly call yourself self taught. Were you asleep when these people were teaching you? Or are they just an inconvenient fact to ignore for your ego?


The only people truly self taught picked up a camera, maybe a few books and never learned anything from a live person. There are a few out there, but not many. I certainly don’t consider not taking a photography program at college to equate to self taught. I, for instance, am working my way through a night program as I can afford it over a significant period of time, take workshops in specific techniques and work with a mentor. I have taught myself some things from books, but that has hardly been the majority of my learning.


Do I have a point to this, besides a little venting? Certainly. I think we need more honesty and self examination in this business and less self aggrandizement and marketing bs. Otherwise you start believing your own hype and end up diminishing yourself overall.

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Why darkrooms matter

I was out wandering about my neighbourhood with a camera this weeked, as I often do. I really appreciated the fact that it was overcast as my old tlr only has a maximum 1/500th shutter speed, so for my shallow depth of field work, this is an ideal condition. And as well, just after the rain, there were lots of things covered in masses of rain drops, always a guarantee of something to photograph.

It had been a little while since I shot with film. While I use both digital and film cameras, I really love shooting film and working in the darkroom the best. Many people I know, who still shoot some film, don’t do any darkroom work at all. I think this is really a shame.

I know there are many people out there who feel a darkroom is a thing of the past and has no relevance anymore. Others feel they are free, no longer having to spend time in one. Others have only ever and will only ever shoot digital. I think the point these people are missing is that learning to print in a darkroom does still matter.

When I speak with people about photography, they often ask about a place to take courses or their cameras and what they would like to do with their photography. I always suggest that they consider giving a film and darkroom course a try. Luckily we have an excellent school here, Langara College, that has a fantastic darkroom and still runs basic photography courses with film. I really believe that this is valuable, even if you only ever shoot digitally afterwards.

Shooting film has so many benefits, especially for someone who is just learning. Learning to shoot manually, where you can’t see what you did right away teaches you to master your camera fully, because if you don’t, you won’t have successful results. It slows things down, and since you only have a limited number of shots, you learn to make them count. You tend to become more selective of what you shoot, and I think end up paying more attention to what is in front of the camera.

And then there is the darkroom. No matter how many times I watch it, it is still a magical thing, seeing that image form from nothing in front of my eyes. But beyond that, unlike sitting in front of a computer screen, being in the darkroom really makes you part of the creative process, in the physical sense of things. There’s a satisfaction that I don’t find is there when sitting in front of a computer, of having made something with your own hands, where you are physically creating this image, not just pressing a mouse and watching the computer do everything.

I think there’s a disconnect, when it comes to technology, that disappears when you physically create and process an image. There is also the ability to experiment hands on, see what happens when you do ……..It is a chance to play, to become part of the process. And there is nothing like the satisfaction of being able to say I made this.

That’s why I always suggest to people to take a chance and get their hands on an old film camera, which is cheap these days, and go take a film photography/darkroom course. You may decide this isn’t for you in the long run, but you have had the experience to fully make that decision from an educated position and you might even have had fun anyways.

But don’t just take my word for it. Freestyle Photographic Supplies is not only an excellent place to purchase supplies, but is committed to traditional black and white photography. They have published on their site opinions from many photographic educators that they work with on why darkrooms do still matter.
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