Mr Elmakias, we saw on your website that All Time Low granted you permission to have an intern on your UK tour – and you decided to do this as a competition for all levels of photographers. That’s pretty awesome. Thanks! I was very stoked for it as well.
How popular was the competition? I mean relative to what I expected it to do… Very popular. I believe it generated over 1000 entries on instagram. Good response as well for people asking me to do it in other areas of the world. Maybe someday!
Did you personally select your interns? Yes. I had my intern narrow it down to about 5-10 for each city, then I selected from those. I couldn’t look through all 1000 myself, plus I am a lot slower than my assistant is.
What was it about them that led you to choosing their application? All I had to go off of was their caption. I didn’t consider any other outside information.
As far as I was concerned it was irrelevant. I wanted someone who would be professional and do a good job of representing me at a concert setting. Obviously I was taking chances, but I do truly believe that anyone can do it if they want to. However, some just need a little extra push, or someone to believe in them; and that was where I thought I could help.
So as long as they can listen to directions, they can assist for me. The only thing I couldn’t have happen is someone show up and do something terribly wrong. The only way to really mess up is to intentionally mess up. Things like run on stage, or ask for a photo with the band backstage – all things like that. Even if someone got approved, if they showed up and acted inappropriately at all, I would have no problem sending them home. It seems kind of harsh but this is my career and took a lot of work to even get this approved by the band, so I don’t plan on messing it up anytime soon.
Was this idea in conjunction with your ‘Anyone can be a photographer‘ series? Is this why the competition was not based on submitting portfolios or examples of work? Yes. I really do believe anyone can be a photographer. To me, to be a photographer doesn’t mean you have to be good. All I care is that you are growing and learning and having a good time. So yeah – no portfolios needed, no examples of work, no experience; you didn’t even need your own camera! I was prepared to give them my second camera should it be needed.
Can you tell us about who joined you as your intern for each gig? Yeah, we had Sarah in London, Elara in Glasgow, Ryan in Birmingham, Shanice in Manchester, and Lottie in Cardiff.
Talk us through some of the highlights about working with each of your interns? Yeah of course.
Ryan was awesome. He was super green to the whole concert experience and I loved it. his fresh take on the whole night was very refreshing. I also loved his energy, you could tell he was very devoted to getting some good images regardless of having no idea of what to expect.
Sarah was a bit more timid than most of the photographers but I loved her take and her approach to photography. She thought way outside the box when it came to photographing fans. She snagged this one photo from the put by putting the hands at the barricade between her and the stage, while she was still in the barricade. You can really only do this with a catwalk, I learned this from her.
Lottie was full of smiles and good energy. She was my first intern so I was a tad nervous too! But we worked together great. She was really into the band and very excited but calmed herself really well. If I was in her shoes I would have messed up so bad by fanboying over the band at the wrong moment.
Shanice was very relaxed. She and I walked around a lot and I gave her a full tour of the venue. To be honest we didn’t hang out very much and I think that is because Shanice is very independent and took the night by the horns, she really did a great job.
Elara was the last intern. She was actually the only one who ended up getting a think tank bag due to some issues with customs. Her dad came with her and the band was very excited. They were like “Let’s get her dad hammered, tell him to come hang out”! She had amazing energy and actually made me feel like she had done this a ton before. She was very confident. She is what we call a natural – I believe… She is so lucky. I wish I was one!
I really only spent an hour or so with each person, maybe even a half an hour depending on the night. I didn’t get to see them very much as they were shooting because we were in different areas most of the time- I wish I could have helped them while they were shooting, but maybe in the future.
We reached out to your interns and asked them to let us know how they found the experience, and share some of their photos too. Here’s what they shared with us…
Ryan: Working with Adam Elmakias was an absolute pleasure! He is such a talented photographer, and to have the chance to be his assistant for the night was really special, straight away I felt very welcomed being offered a tour, a drink and even for him to take my coat! Adam was very encouraging and helpful throughout the night. Even half way through the gig, Adam and I were in the pit, and he was very quick offer me an extra memory card as soon I had filled mine. He is a very genuine, down to earth person, extremely helpful and is willing to do anything for anyone. He will always put others before himself and is very respectful to everyone he meets. By the end of the night Adam felt like more of a friend than a colleague. He was always checking that I was doing okay as it was my first concert shoot and he offered many tips. Getting the chance to work with Adam Elmakias was better than I could ever imagine it to be I hope to work with the legend again sometime.
I would just like to thank Adam, All Time Low and ThinkTank for all giving me this opportunity that has opened a brand to chapter to my life. It means the world.
I can only wish Adam further success in his life!
Sarah: As someone who normally takes photos at metal shows , it was a completely different experience to take photos at an All Time Low show. I was nervous especially at a big venue like O2 Arena but Adam was very encouraging which helped me a lot, to be calm and work around with the height of the stage and my camera. My favourite part of the experience was taking photos of the fans, their expressions and love for the band was evident and one of the reasons why I enjoyed taking photos at the show. Working with Adam made me feel much more ambitious, to push myself more and work towards my goals as a photographer.
Lottie: Two years ago I watched one of Adam’s old YouTube videos about how he got started in the photography industry, it inspired me to take a photography course in college, and I fell in love. Adam was the reason that I started photography in the first place, and why I’m now studying a degree in University. I couldn’t believe it when I received the message from Adam saying that he wanted me to be his intern at the Cardiff date! As cliché as it sounds, it actually was my dream come true. From the moment that I met Adam at the venue, he was warm and welcoming – it was as if I’d known him for years. He’s genuinely one of the nicest people I’ve ever met, I strongly believe that his positivity and good vibes are part of the reason why he’s so successful, along with his passion and talent. Adam gave me a tour of the venue, walked me through the kind of photos that he wanted me to take, and showed me the different areas that I could shoot from. Adam showed me his amazing photography equipment, I helped him set up the remote camera on the balcony and he explained how it all worked. Photographing All Time Low was such an awe inspiring experience as I’ve been a fan of the band for years – they have such an amazing stage presence and set up. Adam made sure to check up on me throughout the concert to see that I was okay and give me tips. We met half way through the set to discuss the photos I’d take so far, it was an honour to have my idol view and critique my photographs. Adam was so supportive, he gave me so much belief in myself and my work. He’s given me the confidence to push myself and succeed. Being his intern was the best night of my life.
Shanice: Interning for Adam Elmakias was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. It really gave me an insight into music photography, which is something I wish to pursue as a future career. It was completely invaluable and I got to spend the night with one of my favourite photographers, photographing one of my favourite bands. When I first got there I was really nervous and unsure of how everything would go but Adam really made me feel at ease and gave me tips on things like camera settings and gig-photographer etiquette. I even got the opportunity of shooting in the pit for a few songs which was amazing and Jack (atl guitarist) even took my camera to take some photos from the stage. At the end of the night I actually captured some great shots that I was pleased with and was completely in awe, I wish I could do it every night! The whole opportunity has increased my confidence greatly and gave me even more motivation when it comes to continuing with it as a career. I had a lot of fun and can’t thank him enough.
Elara: The experience I had was amazing. I couldn’t believe anything that was happening, it was truly a dream come true. Adam is one of my favourite photographers out there and even in just meeting him I learnt a lot, let alone work by his side and help him capture the moment. For me, it was my first concert I had shot, I’m 16 and have not had the opportunity to connect with touring bands so this was a very special experience in itself. Although I had an all access pass it was always essential for me to keep taking photos at front of house – these would be the pictures Adam would take from me as the during the night I acted as a second shooter, much like wedding photography. However, at times I did go to the photo pit and took the opportunity of using my privileged access to shoot for my own portfolio. This was one of the many highlights of my night as All Time Low is a band I regularly listen to and I got to see them up close, with the guitarist (Jack Barakat) even taking my camera to attempt to take a photo of me in the pit. The show itself was stunning and I’m very happy with the photos I took and by the end of the night I could have done it all over again in a flash. I can’t thank Adam enough for everything that he’s done, it’s opened up a lot of doors for me – I’ve already shot another gig and I’m lined up to shoot at a festival in the UK this summer. Adam has made me realise just how much I love music photography.
Adam, What did you enjoy the most about this experience? Honestly, it was cool hearing how much it meant to all the people participating in it. It didn’t really resonate with me how big of a deal this would be for those taking part. Maybe I am being a bit selfish, but from my point of view I really wanted to do this because I got to learn so much from hanging out with these new photographers.
I hope that doesn’t make me a bad person. I am just always trying to figure out ways to grow and learn, and I always love working with new photographers. I just never have access or a way to connect with them on a daily basis. I knew it would mean a lot to them, but I just didn’t realize how much.
It really sunk in when on the last day when Elara’s father sat me down and explained it to me. Elara was 16 so I required her to bring an adult with her to the show. Her dad was also a photographer and he shots concerts as well.
Any key learnings that you can take with you to improve the way you work with interns in the future? I picked up a routine by the 5th day. Obviously at the start I didn’t have one because I had never done this before. But I figured out I need to ask a good amount of questions before we got started. I felt I needed to give them a chance to settle in; it’s a lot of new sounds and places to be all coming at them, all at once. I am very used to it all and it doesn’t even occur to me, but for them this is 100% new.
So, I had to give them time to visually and mentally digest all the information. I have the tendency to move quite quick and talk very fast. I try to talk a little bit slower as it helps calm people, and if there is any awkward vibe in the air (maybe they are a bit shy, for example) I just kind of compensate by being a bit more relaxed and then it helps them to relax.
In regards to the shooting aspect of it, once they get going they got it rather quickly. The hard part is just relaxing, letting the anxiety go, and clearing your mind so you can follow directions. Every intern was different, so I had to modify my advice depending on the person. I didn’t want to insult anybodies intelligence.
It obviously was more work for you – as you had the responsibility of looking after someone else, and you’re teaching them too. But did you enjoy the experience more than shooting buy yourself? It was a lot of a work – but I am a huge believer in hard work.
I believe that anyone can do this.
However, if you look at someone and say “Hey, this is going to be really hard” or “Hey, you might not be able to do this” – then they might not feel like they can do it.
But, if you look them right in the eye and say “You are going to kill it”, they will.
They know they’ll kill it too. They just need a little help along the way and that is what I am here for.
My main concern was the interns messing up. They are representing me so any mistakes they make I agreed to take full responsibility for. I prepped them the best I could and told them to use common sense. They knew where they could and couldn’t go. The only way they could really mess up is if they wanted to – otherwise they would do a great job and I was sure of it.
Do you feel like you need an intern these days or was this mainly a ‘teaching experience’ for you (as well as a learning experience for your interns)? I do need one. I almost always have a second shoot or remote camera(s). It really just doesn’t make sense to me to spend half of the show running around the stands trying to get the shots when I could theoretically mount a camera in each location and get perfect shots. I figure, why get 5 cameras when I can share this experience with other photographers?
Will you be hoping to do this again in the future? Yes, I hope so. I don’t know how many more full tours I will be doing in the near future, but I really enjoyed it.
You can find out more about Adam by the following links:
- Website: adamelmakias.com
- Website: lensbracelet.com
- Twitter: @elmakias
- Facebook: facebook.com/adamelmakias
- Instagram: instagram.com/elmakias
- Google+: plus.google.com/
- YouTube: youtube.com/user/elmakias
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