I have been interning as a photographer and graphic designer for Student Activities here at Florida State for three years, and it has been nothing but a positive experience that has allowed me to supplement my studies with field work. Coming into the internship, I had no idea the power students actually hold to make changes here on campus, nor how wide the organization stretches. Coming into the job I wanted to learn how to streamline edits as well as how to build up a network of contacts, followers and publications; things I believe to be essential to any artist in this new day and age. Starting in a place where the only artists were graphic designers, my two coworkers and I were able to pioneer the photography production and output in the office, following the guidance of our supervisor. Through meetings and planning we established a method of editing that turned our output time into two days rather than a week and a half. This was due to our familiarization with different Adobe products now available to us and training that left us with a deeper understanding of the programs used for editing and publications. We were able to grow the Student Government’s social network outreach; post views have increased from an average of 200 views to 1,000 or more for larger events. This was partially a result of our quick turn-around time, but mostly it was due to our trio taking the lead and gaining access to actual social media accounts where we could do the posting and organize the feed ourselves.
A big contribution to our growth has been our own networking. I learned that as a photographer attending events you become the face of a department you hear of but don’t typically see, and so one must carry their self the way they feel their department should be portrayed. It also helps bring business in, so it’s essential to establish good relationships and good experiences so that clients enjoy working with you. This is especially important in my field because of the weight carried by images. This internship has been a bridge between two focuses: commercial event photography (which is the bread and butter of many photographers) and photojournalism, the latter of which is something I hope to pursue. Some events I have covered like this have been pride marches to the capitol building advocating equality and the golden tribe lectures where the speakers come to address specific topics such as racial tensions and oppression. These are events that take place yearly, and so through this internship, I have had experience on how to document difficult subjects so that everyone can see their importance. This internship has also prepared me for the unexpected, notably the Strozier shooting in 2014 –at the very beginning of my internship- and most recently covering the aftermath of the Pulse shooting and other acts of violence on the LGTBQ+ community.
These difficult events or moments have pushed me to use my art in a way to advocate and celebrate. My photography becomes a social tool to open dialogue and minds, and the situations challenge me to be creative so that the results are impactful in all the right ways. I have learned that our voices are very strong, but they need an outlet to be heard. Photography is that kind of outlet, and this internship has prepared me for future endeavors where I hope to use my photography to advocate change on other sociopolitical or environmental issues. I know I want my art to work towards bettering humanity, and I’m pleasantly surprised to say that this internship has been an incredible start.