July 2005
Joyce Lin/ Photojournalism Intern/ Delaware News Journal/ New Castle, Delaware

(Note: most of the described feelings and circumstances have changed since this was written, since work circumstances changed by the time I finished writing this (therefore changed even more by the time you read this, one month later: I now have a new photography director, who is wonderful, and much is changing—which I may write more about next month)

My summer photojournalism internship lasts 13 weeks and is whizzing by, everyday crammed with wonderful activities and new adventures, a satisfying reality of newspaper photography: everything from humdrum talking-head and building photos to exciting event-photography, spot news, and features hunting. I like how they treat me as a staff photographer, because it lets me taste the job’s reality, helping me conclude, “Yeah, this is what I wanna do!” However, there hasn’t been as much critique of my photos as I would prefer; no one has time

© The News Journal/Joyce Lin
Icecream Stack-up Contest, what most consider the highlight of the Festival.
Event photography (almost always fun to shoot, since there’s so many people crammed into one area, just waiting to be photographed)
I love shadowing other photographers, getting to know them beyond their working selves, and watching them work. I try to figure out what they’re thinking while they’re the amazing fly-on-the-wall, strolling about nonchalantly shooting, then returning with awesome images. All of the photographers that I’ve shadowed thus far started as freelancers, later moving on to become staff-photographers. Freelancing intimidates me, because I know next-to-nothing about it, and it seems extremely difficult and competitive. More competitive than freelancing, however, is landing a staff photographer position at a paper, especially with the gradual decline of newspapers. The younger photographers usually work harder than the older photographers, who have already been through their heyday and chill in a semi-retired state, doing whatever makes them happy while commanding a certain respect and the power to “call in sick” or make negating suggestions when called to do a lame assignment. The younger photographers are still hustling, sending photos to the Associated Press, looking for freelance opportunities outside of the newspaper, etc. “That’s gonna be me after graduation,” I think to myself, delighted yet scared by the thought.
© The News Journal/Joyce Lin
People comment about the Dupont chemical waste plant as it spews toxic fumes into the air.
Man-on-the-street (usually quite boring and time-consuming, riding out with writers)



© The News Journal/Joyce Lin
The new Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture.
Features section (typically interesting with nice big picture-packages)

Around week two, I made the mistake of calling an editor too late. At 3 AM, I realized I wouldn’t be able to make the next day’s assignment, and stupidly assumed that she would leave her phone off at night, then check her voicemail in the morning. I was dead wrong; my call woke up her whole household, and she totally chewed me out on the phone. After a terrible shooting day, feeling disoriented by the new environment, and then faced by an angry temp-editor, I totally broke down. “What am I doing here?” I screamed in my mind, absolutely losing it.

The newspaper is surprisingly tight-knit, much like my smaller college daily. Almost everyone knows each other and we all work together rather nicely, joking around familiarly, getting things done efficiently, etc. Here, people are not afraid to be brutally direct, because everyone is rushing towards a deadline and there’s no time for roundabout pleasantries or politeness. News and gossip travels fast in the newsroom, so everyone seems to know about the phone-incident, which is rather embarrassing. Nonetheless, it’s nice when random people come up to me, introduce themselves, and ask how I am, how I’m adjusting, are they treating me well, etc. Working both days and nights, I think I prefer the night, because there’s less people in the office so there’s more of a chance to get to know everyone. During the day, the office is stuffed with people bustling about wide-eyed on caffeine and deadline. They jokingly ask, “Have you figured out why not to enter this profession yet?” and I question whether they truly hate their jobs, expect me to hate the job, or don’t want me there. “It takes a special kind of person to like this job,” answered an editor, “and a special sort of talent,” referring to working in this newsy field. I’m interested in learning about every aspect of the newsroom, and am having trouble screwing up enough courage to approach a busy person I don’t know that well and go, “Hi! I’m The Photo Intern! Can you spare an hour or two to teach me what you do, just so I can add to my knowledge bank?” I expect people to be either pleased that I’m interested or annoyed because nobody has time. (I’ve already tried to get the video people to teach me their editing ways, but they haven’t “found time” yet. I guess I could just observe people and pop in questions while they’re working, but that’s rather uncomfortable, too.) But happy to say, I haven’t broke down again, and call editors in semi normal hours. I’m becoming more confident with editing my own work and being assertive both in the newsroom and out in the field, and am trying to confront my fears and address my inadequacies. I’ve found a daily cycle of waking, exercising, spending the whole day out shooting, finishing up at the office around 12-1 AM, then coming home exhausted to paint, read, then fall asleep. I’m really enjoying my shoots, except for the lame zero-creativity photos that we’re required to do, such as buildings or headshot. (I especially disliked driving out an hour to some random nowhere for a dry 5-minute building shot). My favorite assignments are larger projects where they run more than one photograph, and I address a broad topic, attacking it as I see fit, with a relatively loose deadline. (My favorite assignment so far: going to two state parks in a quest for people interacting with the environment. I definitely prefer shooting outside to inside; the freedom to roam and explore is fantastic).


© The News Journal/Joyce Lin
Governor's Day at the Harrington Raceway with harness racing.

Sports (the usual fun-times)



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Valerie Rose Rood, 7 years old, of Boothwind, PA, is an avid Harry Potter fan

Environmental portraits (challenging, quick, fun)



© The News Journal/Joyce Lin
Lutheran Church of the Good Shepard, where a paratransit bus forgot to pick up a 65-year-old woman.
Something-took-place-here scene-setting photos (boring, like house-photos)



© The News Journal/Joyce Lin
Shahriar Pasdar, General Manager of The Spencer Hotel (used to be Wyndham Hotel)
Head-shot (zzz. Newspaper headshots aren’t like commercial head-shots; it’s just the quick-and-dirty dealio)

© The News Journal/Joyce Lin
Children frolic under the I-95 freeway on rainy Saturday July 16, 2005 afternoon
Rainy-day feature photo (Such challenging wonderful fun to shoot!)

© The News Journal/Joyce Lin
TMA Rideshare Promotion items.
Product photography
(only lighting, nothing else challenging; set-up for designers)

© Joyce Lin
Another tentative then rejected photo-essay (something else I work on during my off-time; I quit this essay because I figured out I wasn’t identifying with my subjects, couldn’t find anything to focus on, and time was running out)


© Joyce Lin
What I shoot whenever I get a chance: still trying to keep with my APAH (a photo an hour) agenda (and failing miserably, but still trying)

© Joyce Lin
If I get home before dark, I like to do nature photography.

During my off time, I look at photography books, make and edit photos, and explore the area by bike, foot, and car. I really want to do a photo essay, but don’t have any workable ideas. I’d like to explore drug addiction and the crime scene in Wilmington, Delaware and somehow improve things (or at least expose them) through the essay, but I’m highly intimidated by druggies; I don’t think I could approach them alone. However, I couldn’t drag a writer with me, because I like to take my time and wait for the moment; having a writer staring holes into my back just kills my energy and makes me self-conscious. So, whatever sort of photo essay I end up pursuing, I’ll have to do it myself. I’ll either have to chuck the druggie-Wilmington idea or overcome my fears (fears that are quite logical, since I am a tiny female carrying expensive camera equipment through deadly territory. Shouldn’t I be afraid? Joachim Ladefoged and his photo essays on Russian gypsies, the homeless, and other people on the periphery of civilization, living far from the norm, inspire me. War photographers who risk their lives to show the world what’s going on further inspire me. What is a life without risk, truly?)

Driving sucks. It’s probably one of the only things that I really dislike about this job and something vastly different from college, where almost all of the assignments took place on or around campus, as opposed to driving everywhere here. I’ve sort of gotten used to it, and my car is my second home, with food, camera equipment, extra clothes and shoes, a stack of maps, and even a bike. I’ve learned to frequently consult a map, pulling over often to check where I am and frantically calling around when lost, leaving at least half an hour early for assignments, in case of getting lost or encountering traffic (and sometimes still being late), and calling subjects in advance.

Photo-editing also sucks. At college, we would just upload the images, tag our favorites, and then the editors would choose what they wanted. However, here, we pick a selection of images, edit as we please, then drop it into the shared archives for the rest of the newsroom to utilize. I dislike sitting at the desk for long hours editing, although it’s a necessary (albeit painful) part of the job, like driving (anything involving sitting still is painful for me, which is why I love photojournalism and jumping around the area, and hopefully someday jigging around the world, making photos). However, I feel like we are just used by everyone else just to get images! We really get no power beyond choosing which image we’d like to use (and even that is superceded by others; if the writer, editor, or copy-desk doesn’t like that photo, then they can demand a different photo), while copy-desk butchers photo cropping and printing’s color-management muddles the colors. I’d like to say that photos are the most important part of the paper, because pretty graphics attract people to look at the paper while blocks of gray text, no matter how beautifully arranged or edited, won’t. I realize, however, that the newspaper is a giant collaborative act of teamwork that miraculously comes together each day; one can’t really say that one department is better or more important than the next. I only wish that we could work together better with fairer compromises and interaction so that everyone gets the best of their department, resulting in the best paper ever. Nonetheless, that’s just a desire that rarely materializes into real life, since the paper’s daily demands are so time-consuming and draining, leaving little time for reform, or even thoughts of change.

Learning names is an impossible pain. Everyone seems to know my name and that I am the photo-intern, but I know very few names beyond the photo-department, although I recognize faces and talk to other newsroom workers, too. Is there any graceful way to ask someone what his or her name is, after about 5 weeks of work?

It’s wonderful seeing people from one shoot appearing at another shoot; I usually don’t remember the people, but they remember me, and it’s really sweet when they come over, ask how I am, etc. I hate people noticing me with my camera equipment and making obtuse comments. “Nice lens you got there,” commented some random guy, “what is it?” “It’s an 80-200,” I reply. “Oh…” he answers, obviously clueless. Or, “Take a picture of me!” shouts a man, loudly burping and gesticulating with his beer. Um… no. (Though I plan to start a collection of photos of such “shoot me!” people, just as a funny project to pacify myself.) There’s something different about children, though, something cute and innocently sweet about how they get excited about the camera. Some kids I was photographing for a rainy-day feature were delighted when I let them look through the viewfinder, ecstatic to gaze through the long glass and see things so close, then through the wide-angle and see things stretched far again; even more thrilled by clicking the shutter then seeing what was before them reproduced in less than a second on the camera’s back. Photographing and interacting with these children remind me of when I first started making photos and how magical it used to be to just pick up the camera and make images, how I was so amazed when I first started working with black and white in the darkroom with empty paper coming to life through lights and chemicals, etc. Maybe I should go back to film and darkrooms for a while. I think I’ve started taking some things for granted, such as the split-second quickness of the digital camera, the convenience of shooting on automatic mode, etc. I’ve forgotten the importance of every single image, of trying my best to take each image outside of the box. Sometimes, I’ve been so tired and cynical that I’ve been satisfied with just taking a picture, as opposed to making a photograph, and being okay with getting something “usable,” but not “amazing.” I need to start striving for the awesome once more, to take my assignments beyond what’s assigned, and to truly live life fully as a privileged photojournalist, to show others the world through my own eyes. I’m hoping that by the end of the summer, not only will I learn a lot more, but I will also grow as a photographer and person.


Joyce Lin


See Joyce's photo-blog for more on her internship: /




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