Meet Mr. Bernard Brand. Bernard has been interning with me since June and he has proven himself to be an invaluable asset around here. I’m sharing his story of how he got this internship to illustrate a point; being genuine and persistent opens doors. Okay, that’s two points. Bernard is from Pretoria, South Africa and this trip to the States is his first time leaving his home country. Working a day job back in South Africa was taking a toll on Bernard and being a single young man he decided to take a leap of faith and write to me to see if he could intern here. He wrote a letter, included some photos, and mailed it off.
He never heard from me.
Because his letter never arrived.
So Bernard kept on living his life and doing his thing but he still wanted to pack his bags and do something.
So Bernard wrote another letter.
And added more photos.
And wrapped it up in cardboard.
And it arrived.
What impressed me was 1) It’s rare to get a handwritten letter these days and 2) It’s rare to see such clean penmanship. His letter was a simple two page affair that got to the point. His photography is really solid. I showed it to Meg and she immediately said, “Yes. He has to come here. This is a good guy.” Meg’s initial reaction to people is always right so I emailed Bernard and told him to pack his bags. I wasn’t sure what I’d have Bernard doing on a day to day basis, but I told him that he had a place to sleep and we’d keep him well fed. I have definitely kept up that side of the deal! Bernard packed his bags, bought a ticket, and that’s that. Or maybe he bought a ticket and packed his bags. That makes more sense.
What has he done thus far? Bernard wasn’t here for 24 hours and he was already getting his chops busted by Alton Brown.
Our next job was in Las Vegas to photograph promotional portraits of the Property Brothers. Here Bernard is standing in for one of the brothers as the video crew lit their set.
The true test of whether Bernard was going to make it as an intern or not was our family vacation. Meg, myself, our four boys, and Bernard took a 17 day road trip from San Francisco to Seattle to Portland. 17 days in a rental car with our four boys was going to either kill him or make him stronger.
He survived the trip. I don’t know how much I’m going to teach him so I figure I better introduce him to some real photographers while he’s here. So far he’s had lunch with Vincent Laforet and we had burgers and went for ice cream with John Keatley and his lovely family. We also had some amazing food with Chris Hurtt and his family. Bernard and Sara Lando also had many a conversation about life and work and I’m sure that was far more than I’ve taught him so far. Sara kicked my ass BTW about all sorts of stuff. I’m still trying to unpack the week we had with her. We also had Nashville based photographer and friend, David Bean, and his family over for dinner. We’ve had a lot of meals with a lot of photographers. It’s been a pretty damn awesome summer thus far.
(John looks tired because he was. He had *just* wrapped the new video with Fences and Macklemore. No matter how much I tried to talk him out of it he and his wife, Nichelle, insisted we come over for a backyard cookout. Yes. I know. We are some lucky sumsabitches.)
Bernard sent a letter. Then silence. So he sent another letter. He was persistent without being a stalker. He made something personal and wrapped it in cardboard and masking tape. Nothing fancy. Nothing over the top. Just a simple and genuine and personal little envelope of stuff and without so much as a Skype conversation we told him to pack his bags and c’mon over. Now Bernard is like our fifth son; we love him dearly. Bernard is here through PhotoPlus in NYC so if you are going to be there be sure to find Bernard and tell him how much you love his Australian accent because South Africans love that. You can also keep up with his adventures on his blog, “Only in America.”
Taking on an intern is stressful thing for me. Taking on an intern is a big responsibility and you have to be prepared for it. Every intern I’ve ever had moved to Atlanta for the internship so questions of housing, transportation, money, and entertainment pile on top of the hope that you have something to give of value to the person working with you. Bernard is already a solid photographer. I have zero to teach him about f-stops and shutter speeds and lens choices and all that. Why is he here? Why me? I already know how helpful he is to me in day to day stuff around the studio. But am I helping him? It’s my responsibility to have him head home this November with something that made his time worthwhile here. If you ever take on an intern know that they have to get more out of the deal than you do.
So. Good on Bernard for being persistent and patient and having good hand writing. Now it’s on me to serve him well so his persistence paid off.
Thanks for being persistent Bernard. I hope you are getting something out of this. Let’s see how we do in our upcoming competition. 🙂