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|| News Item: Posted 2011-10-14

Lessons not learned in the classroom

By Josh Couper, Ohio University

Photo by Josh Couper

Photo by Josh Couper

Columbus Crew Fans cheer during a match against the Chicago Fire on June 12, 2011 in Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.
I seem to always find a way to take the ‘unconventional route’ to get things done. I’m not sure if it’s a subconscious desire to always be different or just making the best moves with the cards I was dealt, maybe it’s a combination of both.

While I’m watching friends post to their blogs with content they’ve produced for various news organizations, it’s hard not to question my decision not to intern at a news publication. I mean, after all, I am studding ‘photojournalism’. But for one reason or another I didn’t end up at a newspaper, I had the opportunity to intern at the pro soccer team, the Columbus Crew.

The internship itself somewhat fell on my lap. One of my good friends was interning in the digital media department at The Crew and told me to send over my stuff. I was hesitant for a few reasons. interning in the digital media department at The Crew and told me to send over my stuff. I was hesitant for a few reasons.

Mainly because I had never shot soccer before. Yeah, I know, why would a pro soccer team bring me on to visually represent them with never seeing a picture I had taken of the sport I would be photographing? Anyway, I decided to send an email over to head of the digital media department with a few pictures of various sports I had photographed that winter that I felt portrayed my vision and ability along with an introduction of myself and an inquiry about the position.

Well, within a day or so I had a phone interview and had secured the internship. It happened so fast I hardly realized the first game was in 7 days, in which it ended up snowing and raining for the majority of play.

I wasn’t expecting to do so much behind the scenes work and more importantly I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it as much as I did. For a little while I thought that I would show up on game day, shoot the game, dump some pictures onto a hard drive, and leave. Wash, rinse, repeat and there is my internship

Oh boy, was I wrong.

The Crew, for lack of better words, is slightly underdeveloped photographically. They don’t have a team photographer, they simply used the abilities of the digital media department to produce the content that Getty didn’t/couldn’t get on game day.

So entering into this position with no expectations about the structure of my internship, I found myself with the ability to do pretty much whatever I wanted. I loved it.

My boss put a lot of trust in my opinions on the best way to approach, handle, and archive the pictures that I took along with the pictures that the other intern took as well.

Photo by Josh Couper

Photo by Josh Couper
I’m not sure I entered into this experience wanting to learn anything in particular. But I definitely learned a lot. Something I am sure about though is that my time studying photojournalism at Ohio University provided me with a skill set that prepared me as well as anyone could be prepared for a position as ubiquitous as this one.

The inner workings of a sports organization is something I was completely clueless about, for a while, I felt like a chicken running around with my head cut off. I didn’t really know what exactly what was expected of me on game days and I didn’t know at all what I was expected to do when I wasn’t shooting. After a few weeks I got used to the pace of working for a sports team. After a few weeks I got used to the pace of working for a sports team.

I didn’t really concern myself too much with my title as ‘photo intern’ but did work that I saw needed to get done and work that I had fun doing. I got to work with the marketing director, I did some video, I dabbled in some photo archiving, I even manned the Facebook and twitter pages from time to time just for fun. After leaving the internship, it becomes more and more apparent that even though my degree is ‘one size fits all’, that’s not the case with a job at a sports team.

There are things you simply can’t learn in the classroom. I got to do so much more than shooting, captioning, and transmitting and although it was weird at first, it’s a skill set that I’m thankful I had the opportunity to develop and am looking forward to pursuing similar positions in sports in the future.

So at the end of the day I still do question my decision not to intern at a paper yet, but my experience interning at the Crew is something I wouldn’t trade for anything.

Josh Couper is a senior at Ohio University. You can see examples of his work at his Sports Shooter member page: and at his personal wbesite:

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