December 31st, 2015
That's a wrap!
What a wild ride this year has been, it is overwhelming just to think about. I was given an opportunity this past year that forever changed my life. At the beginning of 2014 I moved back to Louisville to save up for art school. In the meantime of working I really started to push my photography and connect with more people in my industry. Through social media I came across a lot of local photographers. I spent the next year trying to reach out and get my name out there. One day I had come across Clay Cook and his photography, I immediately fell in love with his work and began to follow his journey as a photographer. Towards the end of 2014 I saw his post about hiring interns for the New Year. I was extremely reluctant to apply. ‘Why would he want me? What made my work special? Is my work even good enough?’ These were the thoughts that I was facing when deciding to send my work in. I was extremely anxious but I reached out to Clay and asked what was required to apply he said your best images and a resume. A resume? Oh goodness I have absolutely nothing that relates to photography to put on a resume besides the fact that I took one photography class. Cause that definitely makes me stand out, right? HA! Yeah right. I had to get creative at this point and make myself stand out. I knew he didn’t want to hear about my work experience working in hotels and what not, only about my past in photography. At this point I was ready to say I give up and just not apply. But I decided to suck it up and do it anyways, I mean in the end what did I have to lose?
So now I had to figure out what can I do to make myself stand out. I spent hours thinking about this and I finally decided to make a resume about my very vast experience but make it something fun and creative. So what do I do? Well I make it on a camera of course! I made a resume with a camera on it that had all of my past experience and what camera equipment I had and so on and so forth. I then decided to put why he should choose me. Wow was that hard to write, deep down I wasn’t sure that he should choose me out of the ridiculous amount of people who applied, but I had to own it and let my passion really be shown.
After I finally got my resume to a point that I wanted I now had the task of picking out my best images. This was definitely the hardest. I knew my work wasn’t up to par but I also knew I had the potential I just wasn’t confident that he would see my potential and my eagerness to learn and improve. I finally found the images I wanted to send in, so I put it all together and reluctantly applied. I didn’t want to get my hopes up I knew there was an amazing amount of photographers who would also apply. Well to my dismay the next day I got an email back about setting up an interview. Okay wait a second? Did I read that right? Clay Cook wants to interview ME for his internship program? Somebody please pinch me. I became overwhelmed with feelings of excitement and pure panic at the same time. This was real and now I had to impress him in person! Tuesday January 6th at 6:00PM I would be interviewing for the biggest opportunity of my life thus far. I had about two weeks until my interview but it became all I could think about.
The day of the interview came around and I was a nervous mess. Anxiety might be an understatement. That night I had gotten there early, laptop and resume in hand and anxious as ever. This was like going on a first date but 10,000 times scarier! This one interview could change my entire life. My mind was in a whirlwind. I was inside waiting, taking in my surroundings, being on watch for him to show up. Time was going by so slow and I was stuck there with my nerves and my thoughts scattered all of the place. Minutes felt like hours. My heart was literally going to beat out of my chest, and my stomach was in the biggest knot to where I thought I was going to throw up. I had never been so anxious in my entire life. I look over and see Clay’s car whip in to a parking spot. Oh goodness this is real and this is about to happen. Act cool! Clay walks in with a huge smile on his face all calm and collected and introduces himself. I tried to act as cool as possible but I’m pretty sure he could see right through my act and could tell I was literally shaking in my bones. My hands were shaking like I was in -30 degree weather and I’m pretty sure I was sweating like crazy. After about an hour of conversing I had no idea whether or not I was going to be offered the position or not. There was times where I thought he was all for me being on the team and other times where I definitely thought I was not going to get it. My mind was racing a mile a minute and analyzing every single thing he was saying to me. Which I am completely positive he could read this all over my face. But the interview came to an end and Clay asked me to be a part of his team for the next year. HOLY MOLY THIS JUST HAPPENED!!!! I don’t think I could have said yes fast enough! I wanted to run around the coffee shop screaming but I tried to keep my cool. As soon as I got back to my car I literally screamed. I then called my mom and as soon as she answered I told her I got it. I was so excited, but it didn’t seem real yet. I then called my dad and stepmom and told them the news. They were so proud of me and I could really tell they meant it. This hit me hard after not being completely successful in my college career. I felt they were truly proud of me this time. I rushed over to our family friend’s house where my mom and our good friend greeted me with hugs and smiles. Well you all know me, the tears started to flow. I couldn’t have been any happier at that time. I just received an opportunity of a life time and I couldn’t wait to start this journey.
Next thing was to meet the rest of the team. There was going to be me and one other girl and then two guys. Aly, Dave, Jacob and myself. We all met at Clay’s house to take our group picture and to learn about the studio and all of Clay’s equipment. Jacob was half way done with his internship already so he gave us the rundown of everything.
Photo: Clay Cook Photography
After our meet up it was time for the hard work to start. First thing first was rebranding. No more Page by Page Photography for me. I had to be my brand. I also no longer could be a photographer of everything. I had to find my one niche and become the best. For me that was fashion. So from that point forward I became Kelsey Page the fashion photographer. I also had to go through and truly gut my portfolio. I really didn’t have much work that I really loved. I think in the end I only had about 2-3 images that I kept for a portfolio, but it was better to have 2-3 strong images than 30 just okay ones. After a lot of work rebranding I was already learning a whirlwind of information. Who ever knew that you have to post on social media at certain times of the day? I sure didn’t. Looking back I realize how oblivious I was to how much work it takes to be a successful photographer. Just in the first month I learned so much that I never knew even existed. But learning all of these new things was so exciting.
My first shoot as an intern was so nerve wrecking. Clay had so much equipment I have never heard of none the less ever even seen. It was very overwhelming trying to learn what everything was. We were shooting the launch image for KMAC Couture 2015. It was a very high paced environment everyone was on the go to get the best image possible. I was extremely nervous but it was such a blast. The designer made this custom outfit that was absolutely amazing. This was my first time ever being around such a big team of people. I was in awe seeing everyone’s effort come together to create an amazing final image. I had never seen anything like it. I knew from that point on I was doing exactly what I wanted. I started to look up to Clay even more than I already did. Seeing him do the actual work to create the awesome photos that he does pushed me to work harder and harder so that one day I could be as successful as him. Yes, yes, I know super cliché, but I really did admire everything he was doing. He was my mentor and the person I truly looked up to.
Photos: Clay Cook Photography
One of the best parts of my internship was the people I got to meet. I made connections with people I never thought I could of had the chance to meet and people who I have created amazing friendships with. One of the most memorable moments of meeting someone was when I met Gunnar Deatherage from Project runway. Who ever thought that I would be working alongside a reality TV star? The day we met Clay was doing a test shoot and Gunnar was the creative director. This shoot consisted of gallons and gallons of sand. We created a dessert scene. This shoot took a lot of hard work. It was a very in depth set up with lots of lights and other equipment to really make it look like she was out in the sun in the dessert. I was so star struck the whole time I just wanted to take a selfie with Gunnar but had to keep my cool and be professional. Inside I was totally fan girling though. Over time Gunnar and I have developed a great relationship. We have worked together a few times from me shooting his line to shooting him as a model. (P.S. those photos will be released in the next week so be on the lookout!)
Photos above: Clay Cook Photography
One of the hardest parts of the internship was definitely carrying all of Clays gear. The amount of gear he has is unreal. We have one big case called Stan that we would put all of his lights and modifiers in along with reflectors, extension cords, and some other small things. This case is not only huge but it is crazy heavy (turns out Stan weighs 135 lbs!). We also at the beginning had one case for all of his sand bags called Stan Jr. Let me just tell ya, I thought Stan was heavy…. Stan Jr. even though it was about a ¼ of the size it was about 5 times heavier. Stan Jr. eventually broke (definitely not complaining) so we then graduated to two cases a little but smaller that could stack on top of each other and then be put on a base so we could roll them around. We named them Lucy and Ethel. Even though they were extremely heavy still they were way more manageable to where one person could lift them instead of two people. Ethel and Lucy averaged about 70 lbs each. Aside from Stan, Lucy, Ethel and Betsy (the cart we pull it all on) we had stands, lasolites, tripods, c stands, and so much more. You would think that with all of this equipment that Clay would have a big truck or something to fit it all in. Nope. Clay drives a Nissan Cube. We always called it playing Tetris when we had to load his car. And I completely sucked at it for about 6 months. All of his equipment had a specific place even down to the little trinkets in his camera bag. I was notorious for packing things away in Stan and then forgetting one thing that of course was supposed to be at the very bottom of it , so I had to take it all back out and re pack it. Let’s be honest if I had a dollar for every time I did that I would probably be rich.
Photos: Clay Cook Photography
A little over halfway through the internship Clay got extremely busy and between all of our schedules and his, we couldn’t cover all of his shoots. All of us had full time jobs along with being an intern. There was many of times where I would work 11pm-7am at my job and then go assist on a shoot all day and maybe get 2-4 hours of sleep and then do it all again. It was a very crazy time but most definitely worth it. I’m sure Clay’s favorite thing was when I always complained about how tired I always was. But hey we always got the job done. After a while though Clay decided to bring in some new interns to help out. I was super excited to get to work with some more growing photographers who shared a passion with me. Clay threw us a party for everyone to meet and we all immediately clicked. Yay for awkward group photos!
Photo: Clay Cook Photography
Over the past year my favorite shoot I got to assist on was the Voice of Louisville fall editorial. We got to shoot on a construction site. Downtown Louisville there is major construction of the new bridges. We got special access to locations on the construction site. We all had to wear safety vest and hard hats. I came straight to work and we shot till sundown. It was a very long day but it was absolutely perfect weather for it. I had a blast being able to see up close all of the construction sites and get a little background on how the bridges were being built. And the photos turned out amazing. The most memorable set for me was the first look we did with Laura Kirkpatrick. We were right under the new bridge, out on this gravel area and Laura was walking around in ridiculous heels on this gravel like she had tennis shoes on! I was in awe at how flawlessly she could walk in those shoes. I think everyone was actually. We also all got a little entertainment from seeing all of these guy construction workers gathering around to see what we were doing. Having models out on their work site was definitely not a normal day in the office for them.
Photo: Clay Cook Photography
Photo: Clay Cook Photography
My favorite shoot that I did myself this year was most definitely the most memorable also. Interning for Clay I looked up to him so much. I also wanted to impress him in every aspect. Clay is a very tough love type of person. He is definitely not one to throw out compliments. Everything I did whether it be shooting or what I was posting on Facebook I was always wondering if Clay would approve. I was always intimidated of him because I always wanted to live up to his standards and be the best I could be. Well this shoot I had spent about two months putting together. I brought in the biggest team I had yet to work with. I spent hours and hours planning every single little thing. I had all of my lighting and shots planned out to the tiniest detail. The day of the shoot came and I was a nervous wreck I had been planning it for so long that a lot of pressure for it to be a success. I wanted this shoot to be absolutely amazing. I put so much work into it and it had to be perfect. After several hours of shooting my model and MMA fighters I couldn’t have been happier with the outcome. But the pressure wasn’t gone until I had gotten clay’s approval. I immediately went to his house after and showed him all of the images. He told me this has been my best work yet by far. I felt like a little kid in a candy store. Well just when I thought it couldn’t have gotten any better I was working on editing one of the images with Clay and when we finished he said he wished that it was his image. I think my heart dropped into my stomach at the point. Did I just hear him correctly? Can we just pause this moment and let me live in it forever please. I truly felt like I had just won the lottery. I felt gratification in my work and that my hard work had truly paid off with this shoot.
Overall my journey as a intern and a photographer in 2015 has been a whirlwind of ups and down. It has been an extreme amount of hard work. There was many days that I did not want to do it, where I wanted to just walk away. There were days were I was completely mentally and physically exhausted. There were days where all I wanted to do was cry. This past year as an intern and a growing photographer was not easy. But in the end I would not change it for the world. I sit here and look back at the past year and how much I have grown not only in my ability as a photographer but also just as a person and I could not be more happy. I want to share some of my favorite work of mine over the last year. I also want to share with you all some memories over the past year with some images of behind the scenes, to parties with the people that I have come to love over the past year.
Well here comes the tears! Sitting here writing this and going through all of these memories I can’t help but cry. I have held back the tears up to this moment but words can’t describe what this experience has meant to me. No words or actions could show how truly thankful I am for this experience. It was truly a once in a life time opportunity that has drastically changed my life for the better. Clay and all of the other wonderful artists that I have worked along side this year have sparked a fire inside of me. I am ready to fight for what I have learned and really prove my ability to everyone around me while continuing to grow and be a better me.
I want to end this blog with a comparison photo that I did to show everyone how much I have grown over the past year. The top photo is from my last photoshoot that I did before I started my internship and the bottom photo is our 2.0 version with the exact same model and makeup artist, shot two weeks ago.
And thats a wrap for 2015! I just want to say one last thank you to everyone who has supported me over the last year it has been one amazing journey. And again a huge thank you to Clay Cook for everything you have done for me and for believing in me! I can never repay you for the knowledge and confidence you have given me as an artist and a person.
Cheers to 2016 and a new year of amazing memories and a new chapter of my life I can’t wait to share it all with you!