How to Win the internship and get a job in photography
March 12, 2007 5:53 AM   Subscribe

Suggestions for nailing an internship at the Metropolitan Museum of Art please and best suggestions for passing out a photographer's portfolio in New York.

A friend of mine, a photographer, has made it to the second round for an internship at the MET. She has to go for an interview in a few weeks, bringing along nothing but a piece of art the she can talk about for at least 5 minutes. Do you know of any tricks or somesuch that the MET might be looking for in interns? Does the piece of art chosen really matter, or is more about the knowledge and enthusiasm of the applicant?

Since she has to go to New York, she figures she'll put together a portfolio to take around or drop off. She's narrowed her target to photojournalism or photography assistant. I suggested she make a portfolio she can drop off, no more than ten pix, her best stuff obviously. Should she do one portfolio or two, with emphasis on the different targets mentioned above?

What other suggestions would give to a young woman who's never been to the big city, trying to get her foot in a door for photography. Her boyfriend is going with her and they know people around NY, so safety isn't that big of a concern.
posted by Brandon Blatcher to Media & Arts (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: She should probably have a look at the Photographers Market. It'll give her a good idea of who to talk to and what they're looking for. She should not just have one or two portfolios, but should probably tailor each one to the agency/company/etc that she's dropping them off at. These guys get a ton of stuff every day, and if she wants any hope of standing out, it'll have to be unique. She should also realize that NYC is saturated with photographers and is the most competitive market in the world, so I'd encourage her to keep her expectations realistic (modest). Since she's not a city person, NYC is likely to be a bit overwhelming... I'd suggest she "try it out" before committing to living and working here - its not for everyone.

Also - if she wants to send a resume my way, I'm always looking for freelance assistants.
posted by blaneyphoto at 6:42 AM on March 12, 2007

I would guess that the folks at the MET would be most impressed if she could tell them something unique about a work, something that is not just taken from a text book, an insightful and unique perspective. (Am I the only one who intiall read "intern" instead of "internship" in that first sentence?)
posted by caddis at 7:22 AM on March 12, 2007

If she wants a job as an assistant (which is an excellent way to get your foot in the door and learn the business) she should call the numerous photo agencies in the city and just tell them she is looking for work - at first as a second or third assistant. They'll add her to their list of people to call and she'll get to work with a lot of different photographers on a lot of different shoots.

And assisting of course pays, photography internships don't.
posted by bradbane at 7:42 AM on March 12, 2007

I would think that the piece she selects to talk about should be one that the MET has.
posted by xo at 9:08 AM on March 12, 2007

A couple questions: in which department is the internship? If curatorial, which subject? Is it photo?

If it's photography, then I would recommend her bringing a photograph. Even if it's not photography and they know she's a photographer, talking about a photo is a natural choice. I assume they don't want her to talk about one of her own pieces (I can't tell from your description).

I am a photographer who works at an art museum in new media (not photo) and I have interviewed interns. Not knowing anything specific about the Met's intern program or process, I would want to know how someone thinks, so what she says about the image is important.
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 9:38 AM on March 12, 2007

Response by poster: I would think that the piece she selects to talk about should be one that the MET has.

Why's that? Isn't it more of blatant suck up?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:55 AM on March 12, 2007

If she's going into any department of the MET that deals with acquiring new works, she should definitely bring a piece they don't have, to show that she isn't simply regurgitating art textbooks. The MET has amazing breadth and depth, so I think the key points are to be well informed about the piece (all the Ws, and maybe 'how'), as well as historical context if appropriate.

Heck, I'd argue that it would be better to bring a piece they don't have )no matter where she may be interning), but that fits well into a collection of theirs, in order to prove that she knows the style of the MET and how things work. Bringing in a piece they already have might very well just result in the interviewer asking, "You do know we have that piece, right?" But if she starts by saying "Now, if you'll note the similarities to the blabla piece in your blabla collection..." it proves that she knows the MET, she knows the work, and she's in the contemporary art world and isn't just, again, regurgitating textbooks.

But also be passionate -- passion never hurts.

Disclaimer: I have never interned or otherwise worked for any gallery, let alone the MET.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 12:33 PM on March 12, 2007

And, in addition to never having worked for an art gallery, I suck at parentheses. Can't trust a girl with misplaced parentheses!

Seriously though, good luck to your friend!
posted by flibbertigibbet at 12:36 PM on March 12, 2007

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