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|| News Item: Posted 2006-10-05

Intern Diaries: Atlanta Journal-Constitution
'Whether it was a portrait series of nudists or the best 11 high school football players in the state - I had a blast and the help of everyone that could give me a hand.'

By Pouya Dianat, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Photo by Pouya Dianat / Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Photo by Pouya Dianat / Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Brian McCann can't keep his hands on the ball as the Mets' No. 30 Cliff Floyd slides in for a run in the sixth inning. The Mets won 11-3.
(Editor's note: At the end of each summer, it has been a tradition at the Sports Shooter Newsletter to have several students share their experiences working at an internship.)

It's been five weeks since I set the sight of the Peachtree City in my rearview mirror. I'm sitting in my office at The Diamondback at the University of Maryland. (Ray Charles' Georgia on my mind is set to loop on my iTunes for some sweet, sweet Southern inspiration until I finish writing this)

I was given more opportunities at the AJC than I ever thought possible at an internship. I did everything from the high school football portraits to as many Braves games that I could fit in after a full day of work to soldiers leaving on the day before the Fourth of July.

The editors were all watching out for me - making sure I didn't die among other things. I was fortunate enough to be with a staff of editors and photographers that all wanted to help me.

Whether it was a portrait series of nudists or the best 11 high school football players in the state - I had a blast and the help of everyone that could give me a hand.

During the two weeks I worked on the "Super 11" I had the help of half of the people in that office. I had come up with the theme of "Earth, Wind, Fire and Water - the Four Elements". Sports photo editor David Tulis and assignment editor Kent Johnson sold the idea to the sports department and I set off.

The first two shoots took me down to Sapelo Island, Ga. where I met a young man, Allen Bailey who took a ferry (operated by his father) to school everyday. I had the help of my buddy and AJC staffer Elissa Eubanks. Together we mucked out to the apparently alligator-ridden water (Sorry…really, I am) where she held a reflector for me as I took his portrait.

The days got wilder after that - using 4 bottles of rubber cement to light a ball on fire, digging up red clay and sifting the rocks out in the parking lot of Bank of America to make mud, and dumping gallons of water on these athletes.

In the end I was able to walk away with a cool set of photos.

The scariest moment of the summer, however, had to be when I was getting my 400 mm home plate remote camera down from the roof of Turner Field. Everything was fine until that trusty Canon strap broke on one end. Whether it was my good looks or my cat-like reflexes, I'm still not sure, but in some acrobatic mid-air feat I flew backwards with one foot firmly grasping the ladder rung, I just barely hung on to it up there atop Turner Field.

Photo by Pouya Dianat / Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Photo by Pouya Dianat / Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Mitch and Stacey of Dalton, Ga. Mitch has been coming to the nudist resort for 10 years and Stacey has been coming for 2 months. Stacey says it didn't take much convincing for her to tag along. "I wanted to come," she said.
My shooting during the summer got better, I didn't do as well as I wanted to on every assignment, but I set my goal to walk away from every single assignment I did (both then and now) with one thing that I can improve on for the next assignment.

Also at first the 15 hours a week of gardening and babysitting at my mentor Ben Gray's house seemed a bit weird, but I guess it all made sense in the end - just kidding.

Ben was awesome - he constantly was willing to help me out and give me equipment if I needed to borrow anything from him, as was the rest of the staff … despite my track record with cameras, two perished in the water of New Orleans during Katrina as I fell in the water and one was stolen. Anyone finds that 1D Mark II gets a reward!

I think that was the most important part of the summer - support. The AJC staff helped me out countless times, and that's clutch at an internship.

The assignments were plentiful and the editors gave me a lot of good stuff to work.

When I was assigned a nudist resort and told to have as much fun with it as I wanted to - I followed through on instructions. I essentially made a portrait booth inside of Paradise Valley's bar and lit the area to make some portraits of families at the resort.

Convincing the 8 groups to pose took two trips, but I had a blast talking to the people. They were pretty chill, and despite a few offers to do 'erotic photography' from a few of the older visitors I had a good time.

Some of the other better assignments from this summer included three days covering a professional volleyball tournament (got to see Misty May and Kerri Walsh), doing local world cup reaction (at a Muslim African pizzeria) and learning how to do portraits better than I have before.

I pushed myself most with the three portrait series I did. The first one of former Olympic athletes was a disappointment because I didn't live up to what I was trying to do. I took those lessons and put them towards the ones that followed afterwards.

Photo by

Pouya works on a football portrait during his internship in Atlanta.
I think the words of D.O.P. Chris Stanfield on the first day: "Get out there, kick butt and don't apologize for it" and the words of staffer John Spink: "Just be a great person and try to make great pictures, don't worry about getting famous" were the best two pieces of advice to bookend the internship.

The most important thing that I'm going to take away is how a little work can take a person far along with a good attitude. I'm also going to be sure to give back one day since I've always been lucky enough to have a bunch of people help me out.

A word to all the students who are photojournalists without a program like Jim McNay wrote about a few days ago: You have to seek out help through internships and local photographers. I wouldn't be doing anything if it wasn't for all the photographers that helped me out and continue to do so.

Big thanks to D.O.P. Chris Stanfield, editors Kent Johnson, Celine Bufkin, Levette Bagwell, Minla Shields, Dave Tulis and Michael McCarter and staffers Ben Gray, Brant Sanderlin, Bita Honarvar. Joey Ivansco, Mikki Harris, Elissa Eubanks, Rich Addicks, Curtis Compton and all the other staffers that took out the time to help me this summer. Special thanks to my 2 a.m. late night Instant Messengers buds who always gave me some advice through out the summer: Mark Rebilas, Kevin German and Bob Rosato.

(Pouya Dianat is the managing editor and a staff photographer at The Diamondback, the University of Maryland's independent student newspaper. You can view his member page at:

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Pouya's member page

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