Internship for James Nachtwey: NYC (unpaid)

[A note from the blogmaster:

While the commentary on this post came at an unexpected and surprising level, I believe this speaks to greater industry issues that should be addressed directly.

I have tried to cull the most offensive and defamatory comments that are adding nothing to the discussion as well as the anonymous postings. Make no bones about it, if you continue to curse or personally attack anyone on this post, I will remove it. If you bring up good points in an adult and dignified manner, I will be happy to keep it up.

As you’ve seen with consequent posts on the blog, I have invited industry leaders to write posts that deal specifically with the issues you all have discussed below. I sent invitations the heads of major publications, professional organizations and independent bloggers to respond to this topic is a formal and educational discourse. Some responded with great poise and reflection and for those of you who did, thank you.

I have also contacted Jim Natchwey’s studios to ask if they would like to respond to this on a separate posting.

Again, if you choose to curse, name call or simply attack someone else’s portfolio of images as a way of making your argument, I will remove it. It adds nothing to the discussion on the fairness or legality of unpaid internships, is frankly in poor taste and reflects ill on the good postings here.

For more information about the blog and this post, please see my comments below.

-Jamie Rose
International Photojournalist & Director of Workshops for Momenta]

James Nachtwey studio seeks experienced intern for a minimum of three months. Candidates should have or be pursuing a degree in photography, and/or possess comparable photography work experience. The internship is unpaid, so please be financially prepared to participate in this program.


-Advanced Photoshop CS3/CS4 skills dealing with Black &White and Color images both film and digital. Must be proficient working in adjustment layers and layer masks.

-Knowledge of Epson printers along with ICC profile management.

-Proficiency with a Wacom tablet.

-An understanding of film scanning preferably on Imacon scanners.

-Experience with Adobe Light Room and Apple Aperture a plus.

-Must be able to work a minimum of three days per week and extra when needed.

-Must work well under pressure, be self-driven, committed, and be able to follow direction. Good attitude and willingness to help out are expected.

-Daily workflow can range from assisting with printing/toning to studio managerial tasks.

Please, qualified applicants only! We are a small operation with an enormous workflow and no time can be wasted. Interested applicants should send a cover letter and detailed resume to: attention Rebecca or James T.

238 thoughts on “Internship for James Nachtwey: NYC (unpaid)

  1. He just wants to exploit a naive intern/student to do his work for FREE. While he is earning tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars a year out of exploiting the poor and the vulnerable, he expects an intern to work long hours and live on next to nothing.

    • When I first looked at a copy of Deeds Of War way back in 1990, I was blown away. The compositions were so clean, crisp and POWERFUL, that after seeing that masterpiece, I wanted to make better pictures.
      That being said, to the inflammatory comments made to Mr. Nachtwey. I believe the only compensation interns should receive is the experience of having the awesome chance of being in the presence of a grand master like James Nachtwey. What a bunch of sniveling little whiny babies. If Jim wants to share his time with an intern, That intern should ask, how high do you want me to jump, Mr. Nachtwey?
      An artist like James Nachtwey comes only but once only in a lifetime. So, suck it up prospective interns.

      Rock on Jim!

    • Interesting comments. While not in a position to speculate myself, I have to wonder if the comments about Nachtwey’s income are not largely just good, ole-fashioned “player hating”.

      If Nachtwey really is exploiting the people he photographs, it sure doesn’t seem to me that he’s taking much time to enjoy the fruits of this exploitation. If he really has been making that kind of money, it seems to me he could retire by now, but he continues to go to the field, into situations that just plain suck. I’m not sure why someone would do that for any other reason than to show the world… there are plenty of more comfortable ways to make and enjoy money.

      As far as compostions and skill as a photographer goes, I, again, am no one to talk, but it should be pointed out that the most talented people in a field are NOT always the most effective. If no one chose to do things simply because they were not as good at them as someone else, none of us would ever do anything. Seems like knocking the compositions is sort of a cheap shot at someone doing this kind of work.

  2. The most part of the interships are unpaid. Per example VII, Noor, National Geographic.
    If there are qualified people that accept this, why are they going to pay?.
    Probably is our fault. Young photographers are fighting in a very competitive world and You can think an intership could help you to go inside the industry. We should love ourself more.
    And also that people who are in the top of the industry cannot use young photographers like slaves. They should be more honorable and remenber when they were trying to start a career.

  3. I teach at a university, and talk to a lot of students about internships. It’s clear to me that unpaid internships function as affirmative action programs for the already privileged. You may as well hang out a sign that reads “Poor Kids Need Not Apply.” They simply can’t afford to.

    Nachtwey is far from the only offender and photography by no means the only industry to rely on unpaid internships. They’re all over the show — business, government, non-profits, NGOs….

    They’re especially shameful when they’re attached to individuals — such as Nachtwey — and institutions that claim to be working in the interest of social justice.

  4. The problem with this ad is, it is seeking highly qualified people. Must do this and must do that, comes across arrogant, reads like a paid job position.

    Interns are generally for those with little experience seeking to get more experience. Sort of mentoring.

    On the other hand, most experienced photographers do donate their time teaching, workshops, lectures, mentoring, with NO PAY all the time. So it goes both ways.

  5. Apprenticeships have been a part of this profession, and many others, for a long time now. If a person chooses to accept an unpaid internship that is their business, and how Jim Nachtwey chooses to run his work life is his business.

    All these insullts and vulgarities directed against Jim are way out of line.

    Stephen Ferry

    • The responses here reflect a gross misunderstanding of the term “apprentice”. An apprenticeship is historically an unpaid position where the mentor nonetheless takes care of the apprentice’s basic needs (with room/board, etc). This should be win-win enough for a mentor. To ask people to move/live in New York without any housing or financial aid is something even few for-profit universities would do. It is insulting, and frankly should be illegal in that it discriminates on the basis of class. Stephen Ferry, for example, is correct to state that Nachtwey can run his business any way he pleases… but people can also slander him up and down on the internet, distribute fliers in front of his office, and generally call him out as the opportunist that he is. In fact, it would be much better if we just had laws against this form of exploiting (wealthy) kids’ ambition and idealism.

  6. @ Stephen Ferry,

    I agree there’s no need to be rude. But you know ‘for a long time’ the status quo made black people sit at the back of the bus. Not much of an argument is it!

    Clearly the media operates in a way that slanted towards people from more monied backgrounds who can get support through unpaid internships.

    I suggest you judge Jim against his own words:

    “The only way I can justify my role is to have respect for the other persons predicament. The extent to which I do that is the extent to which I become accepted
    by the other; and to that extent, I can accept myself.”

  7. There seems to be a lot of bitterness in the photojournalism bubble at the moment. This just adds to it. There’s a lot of young aspiring and talented pj’s trying to make it and exploiting them won’t help. No-one should work for free unless its for a good cause just like no-one should give their pictures away without proper payment. I guess it’s very frustrating for aspiring pj’s who can’t get a break in a moneyless industry and the experienced, older successful ones shouldn’t be taking advantage. No doubt these sort of internships and workshops are taken up by the many wealthy young ‘trustafarians’. Nachtwey’s work has been an inspiration but this ain’t right. I don’t blame him as much but the whole culture of unpaid internships that require a level of skill.

  8. I’m confused by all the negative comments. Think what you will about Nachtwey’s talent (I for one think he’s exceedingly talented), but he is one of the most famous photojournalists alive. A successful internship can open doors. And, also, SO MANY industries have unpaid internships as a way to break in the door….international development, global health, music industry, movie industry, etc etc. True, @duckrabbitblog, media is slanted towards people with money….but so is public health, international development, international relations, politics (white house interns are unpaid), art, entertainment industry, etc etc etc etc…It’s annoying but true. That’s why I’m shocked at the anger regarding the unpaid internship…it’s nothing new. Success in the arts or journalism is 20% talent and 80% luck + connections…let’s be honest.

    These strange, aggressive critiques are out of line and all the complaining about lack of pay is frankly just unrealistic, uninformed idealism. Internships are about busting your ass and opening doors…not making money.

  9. I’m sorry Nina. I thought otherwise.
    Anyway I didn’t say as a criticism, I said unpaid interships are common.
    But I’m sorry. It’s wonderful that Noor pay their interships.

  10. To all of you…..

    What you make think of Jim on a personal level is one thing. But if you going to engrave it in stone and put it in writing on the internet. Then you should have the nerve to sign you name after such vile attacks. All of you that verbally assaulted Jim here, without submitting you names, are true cowards and a total disgrace to our industry. I’m ashamed of all of you.

    If you want to discuss the merits of Internships, this is a valid discussion. A discussion that should be talked over on the pro’s and con’s of participating in such a program, and that is it, nothing more…
    My start in the industry started with an unpaid internship at the Miami Herald in the early 80’s. Without this internship, I would not be where I am today in the industry.

    Yours truly,

    Christopher Morris

    • “If you want to discuss the merits of Internships, this is a valid discussion.”
      This isn’t about the merits of internships, which nobody is disputing. It is about the merits of this particular internship, where the benefits for James Nechtwey are spelled out clearly, but not those of the person working for free. If he can pay a fair wage for work, he should. If he can pay a fair wage, he should spell out what exactly the person donating a quarter of a year will get in return…other than being close to a great photographer.

      “…without submitting you names, are true cowards and a total disgrace to our industry. I’m ashamed of all of you.”
      And we you, for not stopping to think why someone might post without their name. Call it asymmetrical agrumentation…then maybe it will make sense.

      “My start in the industry started with an unpaid internship at the Miami Herald…”
      Great, so the pattern continues.

      “…where I am today in the industry.”
      Your position in the industry is precisely the reason why we expect you and your established, talented friends with voices of authority to stop asking for free help.

    • I am sure internships work if run properly, but that is not the point these people are making. Apparently there is no benefit in using this internship as a stepping stone. If he is truly that indifferent to his interns then logic would follow that he is an asshole. I don’t one way or the other personally, and I would never waste my time interning without compensation with connections in the industry. This is quite humorous though.
      Dalen Muster

  11. I don’t think it’s right to get personal. I don’t know James but his work speaks for itself. However, on the matter of internships like this I don’t think it’s appropriate not to pay for someone who is required to have so many skills but I doubt it’s ill intentioned.

  12. It seems to me that if thoughts could kill, JN would had died a thousand deaths with all the negativity generated in this thread! In my opinion, the pseudonyms used by some of the posters speak and reveal more about the posters than what they write. I do not know JN personally, but his photographs have inspired me to do similar work for the less fortunate. And no, I am not a professional, and I do not get a single cent for my efforts.

    Much was said about exploitation. But the potential intern have a choice, does he not? Nobody is forced to take up this internship. Maybe my understanding of “exploitation” is immature and misplaced. But nobody exploits me when I have a choice not to be exploited.

    • pn, so why do u use a pseudonym.

      and I think u got the exploitation issue backwards. JN is exploiting his fame to find someone he doesn’t have to pay.

      • @pn2

        “pn, so why do u use a psedonym.

        and I think u got the exploitation issue backwards. JN is exploiting his fame to find someone he doesn’t have to say”

        (1) I wrote “the pseudonyms used by some of the posters…..”. I did not say that I do not approve of pseudonyms. I was referring to SOME pseudonyms. I think that it is abundantly clear which pseudonyms I was referring to.

        (2) I think that there are 2 ways to use the word “exploit”. One is to use something fully, to its maximun. I think this is rather neutral. The other implies cheating.

  13. Sometime ago I wrote on the blog about how there are people in the world who go through bad things and it makes them want to change the world to make it a better place. There are others who go through bad things and because it happened to them they think that everyone else should have to go through it. One set of people is making the world a better place, the other are parasites.

    The reason why NOOR pay their interns is become it matters to them what people think about their work. Nachtwey is asking for talented people to subsidize his work. Whichever way you look at it that is not valuing people properly. There are many others like him in the industry. When you scratch beneath the surface its a cesspit of broken promises and egotistical fools. But there are plenty of good and great people too.

    Photojournalists take the high ground about ‘rights’. Both human rights and the rights of their photographs.

    Some people have come on here and on duckrabbitblog and abused Natchwey’s rights by some pretty offensive comments (we won’t approve them). That’s sad and says more about them then it does about Nachtwey.

    But it is a shame how people cannot get their heads round exploitation which is linked in inequality, otrin this instance a prostitute who doesn’t get paid but feels they need to pull tricks to get on in the world.

    These are not the actions of man at peace with himself but it is in keeping with much of the nihilism of his work.

  14. This is an easy problem to solve…..

    1. Mr. Natchwey please be nicer to people. Be humble, stop being a primadonna and balance out your coverage.

    2. Hire a professional writer to fix your ad so your not offending people.

    3. Hire two interns or reduce the work load to 2 or 3 days/ week @ 4 hrs. / day.

    4. Apologize. Mr. Natchwey you’re a media guy. When your caught….apologize. You know that. Duh!

    5. Prospective interns please realize that most people aren’t capable of working at the level required in professional photography. A lot of times interns aren’t a help, they create more work for the employer because they need training. This is why employers don’t want to pay you!!!!!!!! They want you to get experience. The long list of requirements is an attempt to weed out slackers. Welcome to the world.

    6. Please realize that Mr. Natchwey’s brain is fractured by war and he’s not always going to behave they way you want him to. He got a raw deal too.

    7. Run away! You’re not going have a happy life working in the photo industry. Most people you work for will cheat you. Obviously, this guy is not treating people well and it’s reflective of the overall climate of the business. The %^#$% have taken over.

    8. If you don’t want to run away. Your energy would be better spent fighting large media corporations and the government. They are responsible for destroying the photography industry. It is difficult but not impossible to change it.

  15. One of the things I hate about internet posting is that you can hurl abuse anonymously. It is cowardice

    I think the only question is can James Natchwey afford to pay his interns? I think that is only a question that James and those who know him well can answer.

    I did 4 internships while I was at college, including the Miami Herald and I was paid. I was offered several that did not pay and being from a working class background there is no way I could have afforded to do it. I was grateful to those that did pay. I grew as a photographer because I was allowed to shoot assignments and my work featured regularly alongside the regular staffers.

    I think if you wanted to do a career in post production digital workflow, Natchwey’s internship would be a great opportunity. I doubt that someone who wanted to be a shooter would grow that much unless Natchwey took a personal interest in making sure that you got as much out of the internship as he did.

    If you can afford to pay an intern you should and if you cant you should at the very least make sure that the intern gets as much out of it as possible. You need to make sure that the internship is a rewarding experience though that should also be the case even if you pay.

    Antonio Olmos

  16. @duckrabbit

    I do not know you nor JN personally. In fact, I have never met JN.

    I hope you can shed light on the following.

    (1) “The only way I can justify my role is to have respect for the other person’s predicament. The extent to which I do that is the extent to which I become accepted by the other; and to that extent, I can accept myself”.

    It seems to me that you have used this quote by JN to imply JN’s inconsistency with what he said and what he is (in your viewpoint, regarding the issue of unpaid internship here). Can you kindly elaborate the context underlying the above quote? If I am not mistaken, JN was concern about “exploiting” the suffering of the people he photographed. I think all photographers who photograph similar subjects should be equally concern about a possible exploitation of suffering as a photographic subject. In my opinion, at the very least, JN openly voiced his concern. And I feel that is honest. How he deals with that concern is his alone. At least he did not pretend that there was no moral issue in photographing suffering.

    Do you think that JN’s comments can be applied here? Who is suffering? The obviously highly motivated, intelligent, and talented photographer who willingly takes up the unpaid internship, if there is one indeed?

    (2) “There are others who go through bad things and because if happens to them they think that everyone should have to go through it”.

    I am assuming that you are referring to JN. I am really lost here. What bad things had JN gone through and which he thinks that everyone should go through? And what is the relevance to this issue of unpaid internship?

    (3) “But it is a shame how people cannot get their heads round exploitation which is linked in equality…….”

    I agree completely that exploitation is linked to inequality. When a big foreign photographer goes to the slums of whatever and photographs some really miserable people, do these people have a choice? Intimidation? Fear? Or resignation at their fate to be poor and miserable? Zoo specimens. Another catch by another photographer for his fortfolio. Inequality? Obvious, is it not? Do these people receive any benefit from the photographs? I don’t think so! Exploitation? You bet! Yes, indeed exploitation is linked to inequality. Big time!

    Now contrast the scene.

    A highly regarded photographer (obviously not everybody agrees! I think it is probably true to say that all photographers have their detractors) put up an advertisement to have an unpaid intern. Stringent qualifications spelt out. It is obvious that there is great inequality here, the stature of the acclaimed photographer versus the intern who might be willing to work unpaid in the hope of some non-financial gain (at least for the time being!)

    Inequality? Yes!


    If nobody chose to take up this offer, who was exploited? If nobody chose to walk into JN’s studio, where is the exploitation? If someone willingly chose, with full knowledge that he will not be paid, can that be construed as exploitation?

    Unlike the poor miserable people in the slums who have little choice to be photographed, the potential intern have complete control over the decision to take or reject the offer of an unpaid internship.

    I am not persuaded that given what is obviously free choice to take up this unpaid internship, that there is an issue of exploitation. But I agree that it would be really nice if JN could give some stipend to the hardworking intern. And more importantly, impart some tangible, albeit non-monetary benefits/rewards to the intern.

  17. @pn … we’ve just had a high level conference, and we have decided, that just this once, you, and you alone, can come to duckrabbit towers and work for us for three months, for sod all. How are your software skills? I hope you know your icc profiles from your bbc channels or else you’ll be out on your ear. We will not be extending this wonderful offer to anyone else, so please don’t ask.

    • @duckrabbitt

      (1) Thanks for the offer. Much appreciated. The way I look at it, (and of course it is purely my opinion) you will have to do much much much more than playing around with gimmicks to entice me to take up your offer.

      (2) And I notice that you deftly sidestepped my questions and requests for clarification. In my profession, we do not take kindly to quoting things out of context. Of course, even in my profession, there are many who do often quote things out of context, but we all know that these are the less enlightened ones.

    • damn……

      You are not serious? But there is no loss anyway!

      I am always interested in offers, but only if they are worthy of my considerations.

      Improve thy photography. Then maybe, just maybe if one day you are worth it……

    • Yes ….

      I will always consider ….

      But definitely and absolutely not to offers from people who are not worthy of the tinniest respect from my left little toe. Even if they pay me handsomely with their offers! I am not so daft to waste my time with the likes of these types.

      On a side note, I kinda like what duckrabbitsucks wrote. Very succinct. To the point. And which reminds me of what I had read in previous “confrontations” in lightstalkers.

  18. The people who do consider this internship will/should be (relatively) intelligent and have made choices in the past, albeit
    good or bad, and this scenario is no different.

    Personally, I have always liked James Nachtwey’s photos but I have never met him so, therefore, will leave no personal comments

  19. I’m rather shocked and surprised. This degree of outrage seems unwarranted.

    1. Life isn’t fair. It’s not JN’s duty nor responsibility to try to make it so. People of means ALWAYS have professional advantages.

    2. If i were at the appropriate stage in my life/career, i would have gladly welcomed the opportunity to be an unpaid intern for someone like Steven Meisel, Peter Lindbergh… or at Vogue magazine. You will find no shortage of people willing to ‘suffer’ for such opportunities.

    3. Whether or not you ‘like’ JN’s photography, there ought to be a certain amount of respect or appreciation, at least for his COMMITMENT to his work and craft. I doubt the vast majority of the respondents here could last a week in the situations in which JN seems to live.

    4. As for “exploitation,” i wonder what is the criteria? Is any photograph of a person in an unfortunate situation a matter of exploitation? What, then, becomes of photojournalism? How does the rest of the world EVER become aware of the deplorable conditions and suffering that exist outside of our internet hotspots? I own INFERNO, and i’ve seen the video documentary. I don’t seen anything other than respect for his subject matter. I don’t see anything other than a dedication to JOURNALISM.

    5. Who among us knows what JN’s compensation is? How much SHOULD he be able to pay an intern? Aren’t paid internships, by and large, a matter of minimal pay anyway? If you can’t afford this experience, do not apply. If you do not need this credit on your resume, do not apply. If you feel this opportunity is unfairly disposed to someone who does not need it, refer to item No. 1.

  20. “People of means ALWAYS have professional advantages.”

    So, obviously, it’s crucial that a photographer who has built his public image on social responsibility should enhance that disparity.

    Thanks, Derek, for illuminating your own ethical framework. Armed with this knowledge, I wouldn’t work for you, either. Ever.

  21. From where most of us unknown wannabes sit it is ironic that another member of VII photo steps up to the plate to defend an open bid to exploit a younger, less fortunate member of the community. You’ve already got your gig with TIME, and sure, you’ve paid your dues. You can also safely sign your name without having to worry about blowback from editors and established photographers. Unfortunately, if you think you are doing yourself any favors by defending this stupid bid for free labor, you are very, very wrong. Even your young, unknown colleagues matter in the big scheme of things, and without the admiration of the up and coming community (not just for your excellent photos, but also for your role as a respected elder), the slope will be slippery and lonely…who will pay to attend those VII workshops that no doubt make you all feel warm and fuzzy inside??

    The reaction of people on this board is fair. Everyone is already pissed about the lack of actual jobs and industry systematically ripping us off (your employer now charges freelancers to get paid on time…how completely fucked up is that!!??), so when someone who is supposed to be part of the worker side of the equation does this kind of bullshit, well, it stings twice as bad. When that someone has made their fame and fortune by photographing the less fortunate…well, it is infuriating and renders them as a hypocrite.

    The bid from Natchtwey (assuming it is real) is similar to the one from your other VII colleague some time ago, Lauren Greenfield. Specifically, it is an open pitch for free skilled labor. Maybe the TED money, all those commercial contracts, Canon sponsorship, and HBO deals don’t pay the bills…but imagine what it is like for people who never had any of them. Free labor to support a commercial enterprise is wrong. VII photographers know this and should end the practice of exploiting their own, and then trying to justify it.
    (Insert justification from VII here…cause you know it is coming…yadda, yadda, yadda, famous shit smells like flowers and you’ll love the daily floggings.)

    Perhaps the concerned photographers at VII might consider the VERY REAL perceptions of their peers (even the ones who are not famous) before posting the next plea for freebies?? Defending against a justified reaction only makes you and your colleagues appear cold and detached…which might not be the the case, but the perception is there so deal with it.

    A good start would be an apology from JN, and re-posting the position with a modest stipend or hourly wage. A good finish would be a requirement that all VII photographers and affiliates embrace a model of fair wages and labor practices.

    • You didn’t understand my post…. Was not defending free labor.. I was miffed by the tone of some of the vile words used against Jim. And was appalled at that fact that most of you could use such words, without identifying yourself… your true cowards.. And I stick by that…

      one of you wrote:
      “Go fuck yourself Mr. Nachtwey. You’re a scary freak monster. And you’re arid in every sense.”

      Most of you…. that are writing here seem to be clueless on the industry and how it works..
      You write that “(your employer now charges freelancers to get paid on time…how completely fucked up is that!!??),” What you think I get paid any faster than any other freelancer… What you think I’m a staff photographer… I’m a freelancer like yourself.

      Another point from the earlier post that got under my skin. “You exploit people who dream of being a photojournalist knowing how hard is this business… and you leave them with nothing in their hands, but a signed print.”

      From any generation in the history of photography.. To have the opportunity to work for a Atget, Stieglitz, Capa, or a Smith. These are all internships to die for… To have a few months of an education… To try and better yourself and your craft… To be a part of something rare and special. And to be left with nothing in your hands buy a signed print…
      And a little knowledge of working with a master…

      Christopher Morris

      • Thanks for your response. I disagree with some of what you say, but appreciate that you said it. It is totally reasonable to be mad at the personal attacks against your friend and colleague. I’d also stick up for a friend getting this level of muck directed at them. I disagree about the idea that the people hurling the muck are all cowards because they choose to remain anon though…it is unfortunate that they can’t have the conversation from the same level, but sometimes people who protest wear masks. It protects them from being attacked by more powerful people. Unfortunate, but sometimes necessary and true. The specifics of what people are saying, and how they are saying it is worth paying attention to though, and it is beyond me why it wasn’t addressed by the person who wrote the ad in the first place.

        I agree that the chance to work with anyone at the top of their field is something to seek out. That is part of why so many people posting here are so angry. The likelihood of an aspiring photographer from a working class or poor background being able to participate is next to impossible. The fact that the industry is so screwed up only adds to the anger and resentment, especially when you add the terrible economy to the mix.

        The fact that the ad is coming from one of the few people in the field who is probably in a position (maybe he isn’t, but it would sure seem he is) to offer some sort of compensation, and to open this opportunity up for people without trust funds is really upsetting people. It is probably also true that because of the long, profound history of representing the less fortunate in his work, that people expected much more from Mr. Nachtwey. It might be a simple oversight, but this could have been fixed easily by reposting the ad with reasonable terms.

        I didn’t suggest you are staff at TIME, just that you’ve have a running gig with them for a long time, and that you’ve paid your dues and established yourself as someone who a lot of photographers look up to. You might be freelance, but you are operating a level that is very different from the vast majority of the rest of the field. My point is that for someone at your level to defend this, I don’t think it will do anyone any good. If you try viewing it from the perspective of people at the bottom, it sucks. If someone with your history, status, and talent is struggling, imagine what it is like for a kid in their 20s. Since this is the second ad from a VII photographer in the last year or so that asks for free labor (not for the experience to work WITH Mr. Natcheway, but to bring actual skills to work for him…very similar to the one for Lauren Greenfield studio), people are getting a little pissed. VII is is one of the few relatively independent groups of ‘concerned’ documentary photographers who have figured out a business model that seems to work, but if that model relies of taking advantage of people at the bottom of the field, we are all in trouble.

        The way you describe the internship is very different than the ad…if that is what the internship is about, Mr. Natcheway should have just chimed in early on and said so. Even if that were the case, he should have also offered the opportunity in a way that makes it accessible to a much broader range of people, and made it so that you don’t have to be rich to pursue it. As far as I can tell he hasn’t changed a word, and it looks like it is doing more damage than good.

        I also still stick to what I wrote in my last post…

        A good start would be an apology from JN, and re-posting the position with a modest stipend or hourly wage. A good finish would be a requirement that all VII photographers and affiliates embrace a model of fair wages and labor practices.

      • To the bloggers condemning Jim,
        Well what can I say other than, this is the way things go.
        The business is in the toilet, those photographers that are working, are doing so because they put in what they get out of it. I’ve been in the business since I was 18, and have barely made a scratch, but have had the opportunity to meet the likes of the VII crew, and have actually had compliments on my own work from the very same Jim, that all these people are insulting. I have never known him to be anything but humble and gracious. Now to get to the point, you don’t get to the top without being really good, and perhaps cut-throat to the extreme. But that is the way it is. You work hard, very hard, and you suffer. As if those who shoot the type of work that Chris or Jim does, are not affected, instead only exploiting. Get lost, you clearly do not know what you are talking about. As for internships, I needed one at some time ago, could not afford to pay a person, but did get help from a university student, willing to work long hours and learn. I gave that person what knowledge I had, given to me by others, like Chris for example, and that person is now working full time for an agency. I say bravo to him. Also, there are top photographers, award winning photographers that are not getting work. So, give the guy a break, and if you don’t like the add, you don’t need to respond to it. If I were in a position to work in such a situation, I would jump at it. To see and experience what he knows, would be a gold mine, a wealth of knowledge that only comes from experience, no matter how screwy the business…this is a fact…in another way, how about working with Don Cullen, Philip Jones Griffiths…Catherine Leroy, Etienne Montes…the list goes on…
        Staton Winter

      • To the those condemning Jim,
        Well what can I say other than, this is the way things go.
        The business is in the toilet, those photographers that are working, are doing so because they put in what they get out of it. I’ve been in the business since I was 18, and have barely made a scratch, but have had the opportunity to meet the likes of the VII crew, and have actually had compliments on my own work from the very same Jim, that all these people are insulting. I have never known him to be anything but humble and gracious. Now to get to the point, you don’t get to the top without being really good, and perhaps cut-throat to the extreme. But that is the way it is. You work hard, very hard, and you suffer. As if those who shoot the type of work that Chris or Jim does, are not affected, instead only exploiting. Get lost, you clearly do not know what you are talking about. As for internships, I needed one at some time ago, could not afford to pay a person, but did get help from a university student, willing to work long hours and learn. I gave that person what knowledge I had, given to me by others, like Chris for example, and that person is now working full time for an agency. I say bravo to him. Also, there are top photographers, award winning photographers that are not getting work. So, give the guy a break, and if you don’t like the add, you don’t need to respond to it. If I were in a position to work in such a situation, I would jump at it. To see and experience what he knows, would be a gold mine, a wealth of knowledge that only comes from experience, no matter how screwy the business…this is a fact…in another way, how about working with Don Cullen, Philip Jones Griffiths…Catherine Leroy, Etienne Montes…the list goes on…
        Staton Winter

  22. mr nachtwey cant pay the people who are doing work for him? the obvious thought is he is not earning anything with his pictures. otherwise he would pay the workers, right?

    if not – well, another role-model down the drain and the social aspect of his work gets a very bitter taste.

  23. I’m a teacher, not a photographer; however, I do arrange un-paid internships for my international students, who can not work for wages because of thier visa restrictions. For some, coming here to study English and get a professional internship is something they and their families have saved up for for many years. They are trained and eager. Watch out, they’re coming or they’re already here….Sorry guys, I know this is a bit like throwing salt into wounds, but it’s the truth.

  24. 1. Mr. Natchwey is an incredible photojournalist. Period.

    2. If you’re not interested in the internship, shut your mouth.

    3. Shut your mouth and go make pictures.

    4. Stop blaming the “industry” and the Natchweys of the world for your lack of “success”. Are you making pictures for fame or to make the world a better place?

    5. Read Howard Chapnick’s Truth Needs No Ally.

    6. Shut your mouth and go make pictures.

  25. There’s some really ridiculous comments flying around here… the most absurd of which being this whole injustice towards a poor young photographer thing… all of us sitting and arguing on the internet from our macbook pros with thousands of dollars worth of equipment on the shelf, and probably a university degree (maybe two). You really truly feel sorry for yourself?

  26. In my business it’s pretty common that internships are unpaid and you get crapped on.
    Welcome to the big city, Timmy.

    Interning for free and getting shit on is seen by a lot of people as paying the price of entry. A lot of people also see it as a way of weeding out the ‘milky’ ones. It’s a little like boot camp.

    Never meet your heros, because you will always be disappointed. Why? Because they are people, just like the rest of us, warts and all. Read about Eugene Smith meeting Albert Schweitzer.

    I don’t know JN from a hole in the wall. I met him twice for a few minutes and on both occasions I got to observe him from a distance for a while. My impression is that he’s a very complex person and that decades of working in some of the worst places on the planet have left him with a lot of baggage. He may be a jerk of epic proportions or the nicest guy on the planet. I don’t have the slightest clue, because I don’t know the man and therefore can’t judge him. I’m also pretty sure that the vast majority of people posting here don’t know JN any better than Abraham Lincoln.

    I’ve worked with big names like JN and it’s not always easy, but I’d rather go home with an ulcer from working for someone like that, than from some talentless hack. Megalomania is a lot more tolerable, when the person
    in question can not only talk the talk, but walk the walk. Solution? Work for yourself.

    To me the whole point of doing an internship is being able to take a peek in the kitchen to see how the sausage is made.
    The big question of course is if you have the stomach for it.

    Personally I wouldn’t care if the person I’m interning for was a jackass of the first order or treated me like a son.

    It wouldn’t make much of a difference to me, because you can learn as much or maybe even more from an unpleasant experience, as from a good one. It’s a cliche, but there is a certain amount of truth to the saying: “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.” I’m still learning from the many times I’ve been screwed during my career. Sometimes the answers or certain aspects do not become clear or apparent until years later.

    Interning for Nachtwey isn’t about learning another cool trick in PS. It’s not about getting him to look at your pictures.
    It’s not even about going on a shoot with him, although that is pretty valuable, but a different sort of lesson. It’s about
    learning about life and experiencing what goes on behind the scenes; getting to see what the ‘civilians’ don’t get to see.
    It’s about seeing the big picture and learning how a person like JN operates. Getting shit on for 3 months without pay
    to learn that lesson is a bargain. Hell, I’d take the damn internship myself, if I wasn’t tied up for the next few months on the other side of the planet.

  27. Oh why is this an issue?

    Well I’ve got an open assistant position. You can call it internship if you wish so. Minimum 12 months, no pay. You do have to be willing to work 12 hr + days, be committed and demonstrate proactiveness by finding your own way of relocating to northern Europe including funding your own travel & lodging. But then again you’ll be exposed to Chemical Oil & Gas business and multi billion dollar CAPEX invetments environment on EMEA level, lots and lots of challenges an maybe, maybe if you are the right person and crude is high enough we’ll hire you. Candidate should have or be pursuing an MBA or at least M.A. and the ability to speak min. 3 european languages not including english.

    At the moment I’m overloaded myself and my employer is on heavy savings program mode so why not?

    BS, I say.

  28. It should be obvious that this is not an internship and it violates fair labor laws..

    The standard for making this determination is whether the “educational or training programs are designed to provide students with professional experience in furtherance of the education and the training is academically oriented for the benefit of the students.” See U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division, Opinion Letter, FLSA2004-5NA (May 17, 2004).

    This, the most recent opinion letter, explains that all of the following six criteria must be met in order to exclude an “intern or student” from minimum wage and overtime requirements:

    * The training, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to that which would be given in a vocational school;

    * The training is for the benefit of the trainees or students;

    * The trainees or students do not displace regular employees, but work under their close observation;

    * The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantages from the activities of the trainees or students and, on occasion, its operations may actually be impeded;

    * The trainees or students are not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the training period; and

    * The employer and the trainees or students understand that the trainees or students are not entitled to wages for the time spent in training.

  29. If you’re not interested in applying for it, why bitch about it?

    I’m not seeing anyone putting up their own website to show that they’re too good to need such an insulting offer.

    Since there are so many experienced “mini” Nachtwey types posting here, post the internships you’re offering to your studio so we can all see what Nachtwey should be offering.

    Perhaps a visit to the real world is in order.

  30. This is a good example of why it’s necessary for legal reform of the internship system. Obviously big companies will abuse the system by whatever means they can. That a respected, supposedly “concerned” photographer would do the same speaks to the need for a more level playing field between labor and capital.

  31. I see no indication in the “ad” that James Nachtwey himself is responsible for the terms of the internship.

    Is it not possible James T. or Rebecca have overstepped their responsibilities in putting this request out there on behalf of Mr. Nachtwey?

    The vilification is aimed squarely at him, but there really is no proof that he is advocating such a position be filled with an intern.

    Maybe there is a financial incentive for this 3 months of work to be achieved at the lowest cost possible. Maybe that incentive goes to James T. and/or Rebecca.

    Just saying. We don’t have all the facts.


    Lorne Chesal

    • As they say in Politics, ‘The Buck stops here.” He is the man in chargse so he must take responsibility for what his company is oing. I can’t see it being a huge amount of people that work for him as it doesn’t appear that he would pay much.

  32. To be frank, the qualifications are amateur. Note the keywords – “Knowledge”, “Proficiency”, “Understanding”, “Experience”, “Must be able”. There is no professional experience required for this un-paid internship. If you can’t afford, nor work a second job while doing the internship, then don’t apply and stop bitching. Move on with your life and career. From the sounds of it, this forum is full of amateur photographers that dream of being an established photojournalist. Honestly, at this rate, for those that are complaining, you will remain amateur photographers struggling to put dinner on your table.

    With that said, I do believe that some internships should be paid. From what I have read, this one is so simple and requires hardly anything from the intern. I have interned not only in the U.S. but also out of the country. All of my internships were within the photojournalism industry, and some were paid, and some were not. The later of the internships I did were paid, because the internships required more professional experience, as well as, the distance (out of the country). If you feel that you are WORTH more than what the requirements are asking, then MOVE on and look for something else. (if there is anything else out there!) This internship would be perfect for someone that is in high school or starting off in college that is in the area of the internship. If you had to travel and move in order to do this, then obviously it would be a WASTE of TIME and MONEY!

    – M & M

  33. No, it isn’t.

    Its a real world-real time photo by Gilles Peress.

    It is always safe and cosy to launch points of view sitting on your lovely couch, ignoring historical and evaluative facts about a significant issue or subject.

    It is the style of our times.

    I know that James Nachtwey’s ad may sound unrighteous and exploiting.
    Maybe it is, for someone who doesn’t interested for the position at all.

    But as long as there are a lot of people out there who need to add to their biography the fact that they worked for James Nachtwey, you must evaluate differently the facts before create your point of view.

    Nachtwey, like it or not, belongs to the top level of the photojournalism industry and is extremely advantageous for someone to involved at anyway with his name.

    If you think that spending your time working for him, without payment but gaining the credentials for your biography, is exploitation, then you must reset your mind system and make an overall update.

  34. Just saw War Photographer almost a decade since it was made. He may pitch his efforts as humanitarian, but he comes across as cold. Why is that? A guy who seeks to better the world through exposing the inhumanity of man should come across as sympathetic, but he doesn’t.

    I would not do an internship with him paid or unpaid without evidence to the contrary that he’s just a photog/art guy looking to further his career on the backs of the world’s fucked.

  35. It’s one thing to criticize the man’s ad, controversial as it may be, but it’s a completely different thing to slander.

    Sure, you can question Nachwey’s motivations for taking photographs if you feel compelled to, but:

    1. it’s off topic in this discussion (unpaid internships)
    2. back it up with proof

    Baseless anonymous shit throwing is pathetic.

  36. I probably shouldn’t say this but I’m going to anyway. Are you looking for a creative or someone with rich parents? I’m sorry but that is a selfish thing to ask for.

  37. Mr. Morris,

    I’ve been around long enough to have had interns, both paid and unpaid. Unpaid when I truly couldn’t afford even a stipend, and paid when I could. The payment was never great, but it was something. It was acknowledgment that the intern’s time was worth something and more importantly, it was acknowledgment that they more than likely needed a bit of income to survive. I once had to turn down an unpaid internship I wanted badly because I was desperately low on money. It was my loss and his. But for someone with Nachtwey’s stature and apparent income to put the squeeze on some kid, from some antiquated principle of apprenticeship is self-serving at best. This is 2009 and not 1909, and living is expensive or haven’t you and Mr. Nachtwey noticed as you trot the globe in search of photographic fame and truth?. And BTW, who’s kidding who when it comes “teaching” photojournalism via distant personal interaction? Give me a break. I’ll bet you say “jim” in a hushed, reverential tone.

  38. I just took another look at this site and some of the things that people have posted here are truly despicable. You people need to get a clue and stop acting like a bunch of coddled cry babies.

    If you don’t want to intern for free, then don’t apply. End of story.

    Most internships are not paid. It’s always been like that. If you do not understand the value of interning for someone like JN, even under less than ideal circumstances, then you still got a lot to learn.

    If you want to bitch about social injustice and workers rights, go protest outside Goldman Sachs or any large corporation of your choice. Or even better, get off your ass and shoot a story about it, instead of bitching about JN’s unpaid internship.

    If you want to apply for the internship, but claim you can’t do it, because it doesn’t pay them maybe you should consider another profession aside from photojournalism. If you’re not resourceful enough to figure out how to live in or near NY for three months on a tight budget, then how on earth are you going to overcome a truly serious obstacle in the field?

    I left home 20 years ago to start my career. I had $2000 in the bank and a full tank of gas in my beat up old car. I drove cross country, crashed with friends, begged, borrowed, stole and lived on ham and eggs for half a year. Somehow I made it, mainly because I didn’t sit around and bitch and moan that life wasn’t fair, because everything wasn’t handed to me on a silver platter.

  39. Harry, good for you that you made it and all that, but for an experienced person to do a job for free for three months in one of the most expensive cities to live in the world and hope to be paid is not being handed anything on a silver platter.

  40. You know what? Call me a sucker, but I’m applying. Yeah, money’s nice, but working a crappy job next semester and all summer to save up for a couple months in New York seems like a pretty small price to pay for the chance to work with someone like James Nachtwey.

  41. Thirty five years ago, passing through Tokyo on my way back to Vietnam, I was offered a chance to go hang out and ‘intern’ with Gene Smith in a little town called Minimata. I had been working for TIME and LIFE for a couple of years, and had I not had an assignment already waiting for me in Saigon, I would have gone (and certainly been yelled at, cursed at, and otherwise had a fantastic time, no doubt an immense learning experience.) I have often had regret that I didn’t just drop my own work and go work for Smith for a couple of months. I’m not sure there was even any money involved, but the whole experience would have been far beyond a question of money. By far the greatest intangibles in the business (and I suppose we have to be constantly reminded that it IS a business) are the things which you pick up in those non-school areas. Whether its an unpaid internship, schlepping strobes for a friend one day when he has a job and you don’t, or just paying attention to what others say at a stake out, those are the things which eventually unlock the little cells in your own brain which will let you excel. While there might have been a better way of phrasing the job description in the ad, there is no question that anyone hanging around in the environment of Jim’s studio would come away (assuming you are smart and observant) a more interesting photographer. A generation ago many people started their careers by filing contact sheets at Gamma and Magnum — and if you think you can’t learn by looking at great contact sheets — you have another think coming. In today’s digital / analog studio the skills are different, but to a perceptive mind there is much to learn. It’s easy to complain — and Chris Morris is right — perhaps there is a bigger discussion to be had about the whole concept of internships and apprenticeships. My experience has been that you often end up spending as much time looking after interns as you might have gained by having them there. But if you are in the business of learning, then jump in, in whatever way seems to make sense. This is photography. It’s not the International Equal Talent games, nor is it the Just Cause I Don’t Have 4 DigiCams, I Deserve More-a-Thon. The only thing that matters anymore is talent and insight. Some of the best photographers I know today work with a single camera and a 50mm lens. So there is just no more question about success being a have / have not issue.. Just take great pictures, and you too, shall be in a place where you can be trashed online. And please… proof read your posts first. They are really hard to comprehend when they are so illegible.

    • Dave, no disrespect, But you were already a pretty good photographer (I’m assuming you were the photographer?) and knew what you were doing if you already had assignments for Time and Life. It would be far less an internship and running around after him changing spools than hanging out and getting pissed and enjoying the experience.

      From what this guy is looking for, it appears to me that the interns would be better off taking the pics themselves. The pictures that he takes are good, no denying that, but they are more about ‘right place at the right time’ and luck than being technically good.

      Only thing I can see that can be taught is, don’t be so gullible, if a person can afford it get paid and it’s a tough industry so don’t bother.

    • Mr. Burnett,

      I am a fan of your work, both as a photographer and as a filmmaker.

      As a business owner I don’t use free labor for anything I think is important. If a person does a good job they get paid. The guy taking out the trash does a good job – he gets paid. Unpaid 3 month+ internship, 3 days a week, and no explanation of what you can expect to get out of the experience – requiring skills with wacom tablets, photo manipulation, and layer masks; that is taking advantage of the young and energetic. Even if the person is only scanning in images and spotting dust – if the work is valuable, pay them.

      If the interns aren’t adding anything to the business – don’t use interns. Hire part-time workers. Set the expectations higher and pay what the work is worth.

      I admire Nachtwey from afar. I’ve see the photos, the movie, the TED conference. But how you treat the people you don’t need to treat well is what defines you as a person. I am offended by the idea of unpaid labor. Don’t take advantage of the young by having them do work under the pretense of “a learning experience” for 3 months, 3 days a week, and more on demand.

      In college I volunteered my time at a laboratory. I volunteered my time at a non-profit. I volunteered and I got to work around my schedule. But, when my work became something of value to them, they paid me – because it is the right thing to do.

    • Oh, and Dave, before you mention proof reading. your sentence, “you have another think coming”, think should be thing.

      No-one is perfect and no-one should think that they are. As the old sayng goes, “Everyday is a school day”.

      • John, that’s not correct, the phrase really IS “…you’ve got another THINK coming.” That’s because the entire old saying is “If you think I’m going to (ask that nasty girl out, work for free, walk all the way home, whatever) then you’ve got another think coming.” Makes perfect sense when you say the whole phrase.

        It’s not an uncommon substitution, and then Judas Priest famously misspoke “think” into “thing” on a well-known song and the rest is history.

        Actually, this is one of those sayings in which the substituted word not only sounds almost exactly the same, but pretty much makes sense, too. Sort of like “Bringing the facts to LIFE” (wrong but understandably substitution) vs. “Bringing the facts to LIGHT” (traditional correct) or “Coming down the PIPE”(wrong but understandable substitution) vs. “Coming down the PIKE” (traditional correct).

        There are many others, too.

      • >Anthony…I believe in the context used, you are correct and I stand corrected and I apologise to Dave for that. I believe if it was used in a physical context then it is possible to use ‘thing’. I question the origins of Judas Priest as being a possible source of change though. Just the same as using Jade Goodie as a source of the word, ‘minger’ as Scot’s have been using the word for decades, maybe centuries but as she was the first to make the English public aware, she gets credit.

    • Brilliant post, David. I hope that some of you will calm down enough to actually read what David has said, because his post is loaded with clues to success. David is one of the finest photographers I’ve ever had the pleasure to know. That he still regrets the a missed opportunity to spend time with another legendary photographer Eugene Smith speaks volumes about the value of such opportunities. Make the most of your opportunities for they all pay off in many ways.

  42. I am really surprised that Jim would ask someone to work for him for free so that he can make more money. Lots of photographers unfortunately exploit people in this way because they can. I am very disappointed that this “concerned photographer” isn’t any better than them and my respect for him as a MAN is greatly diminished. This reality does not correspond to the reputation, or is it the myth?

  43. JN can’t afford to pay anything or don’t want to pay anything?

    I would apply immediately if I didn’t have to PAY for doing work for free. Cover the living costs and I’ll work for free.

  44. JN has been, at one point or another, an inspiration to many or all of the people who have posted in this forum. He was an inspiration for me as well, and although my career route has taken a different direction, I still maintain a great interest in his and other people’s work.

    And it is disappointing to read what many of you have to say.

    A few observations.

    1. Internships are either paid or unpaid. If you can’t take an unpaid internship then don’t complain about it. Or if it is really important to you, and you really want it – then you will make it work. If you really want something, you can get it.

    This is also not the only industry doing unpaid internships. How about this –

    Seth Godin, the “God of Marketing”, put together a 6 month unpaid program in NY. And yes, I’m quite positive Mr. Godin and his multiple NYT Bestsellers, consulting company and god knows what else have plenty of money to pay somebody to do that. So did people walk around slandering him? Saying how much of a douchebag he is? By the number of people applying for the position(s), I guess not.

    In his final point, he explains – who is benefitting from what?

    “Should I pay people who do this? After all, the projects we’re doing together are things I’m working on, things that might turn a profit.

    On the other hand, should you pay a lot to do this? After all, it’s an education and the group and I are helping you develop your skills and ideas–something you’d have a hard time buying at any price. It’s a huge time commitment for me (and you.)

    I can’t figure out the right balance between the two, so I decided to make it simple. Free.”

    Or how about the people at Vice magazine worldwide – basically physically abusing and humiliating their interns before being allowed to work. And they’re not even ashamed of it. (Oh yes, somebody I knew refused the restaurant-laxative challenge and gave up their opportunity to work at Vice)

    People make sacrifices for things they really want, especially moving forward in an industry you love.

    If you want a paid job that bad, go work at Starbucks. You’ll get paid. But good luck moving ahead in the industry.

    2. Just because somebody has “made it” doesn’t necessarily mean they owe anybody anything. Decades of hard work have put James, Seth and the other “leaders” of their industries at the point that they are at right now. Does that mean they can start handing out things on silver platters to anyone else? No, they shouldn’t. In fact, they really should be doing the opposite. Why should someone like that spread their wealth and own victories with people who don’t deserve it?

    Isn’t something that much more rewarding when you work for it?

    Here’s another example from another industry –

    “She has often been described as a perfectionist who routinely makes impossible, arbitrary demands of those who work for or under her, and treats them unkindly: “kitchen scissors at work,” in the words of one commentator. She once made a junior staffer look through a photographer’s trash to find a picture he had refused to give her. A longtime assistant says, “She throws you in the water and you’ll either sink or swim.””

    I can guarantee you that if Ms. Wintour ever put forward an unpaid position to be her assistant, people would line up in droves.

    Here is an opportunity to get thrown in the water, and if you sink, you sink. If you swim, you have a jumpstart to your dream.

    3. The only person who can craft your opportunity/position in the business is you. Here is an opportunity to work for/with one of the greatest influences in the business, somebody who will be remembered for bringing light to the plight of thousands of underprivileged worldwide. Here is a 3 month window of time where you can learn how to work in the industry, learn techniques, workflow, whatever – but best of all, 3 month access to probably one of the most influential/important rolodexes and contacts you will ever have the chance to even set your eyes on.

    One thing is certain, in this day and age of helicopter parenting, and children

    Fact is – if you don’t like it/can’t afford it you have two choices

    1. Move on and find something else
    2. Figure out a way to make it worth it.

    Or maybe just do this – Paying for your internship. Where’s the furor with this? I guess there are either paid, unpaid or bought internships.

    Apologies for the long-windedness, but the fact of the matter is that this personal attack is truly unnecessary. JN’s private life is his private life and next time you reach for your Xanax prescribed from the fact that your mother didn’t love you and make comments about somebody else’s personality, think about the true death, despair and tragedy that this man has seen, and documented for all the rest of us. It’s easy to judge people on hardships they don’t speak of, and until you have had the chance to stand in his shoes, see what he sees – but most importantly hear what he hears and smell what he smells then you have absolutely no reason to judge.

    Your life is in your hands, if you aren’t willing to make the sacrifice you want/need – then you should have nothing to say .

  45. Wow, there’s a lot of emotional turmoil out there. Nachtwey is a great photographer, and his work has had positive benefits (look at his stuff on Somalia). Much of his older Black and White work is fantastic, and I remember sitting around the table in the back of the Magnum office when he was going over the printing of some of it. I did an internship at Magnum, and I was paid. Not much, but I was paid. And I bring this up because it was an unpaid internship when I first came in, but after a while, I told them I needed at least some money to cover the cost of commuting and lunch, etc., and I suppose I had proved I had some value and they gave it to me. Now, those checks didn’t do much for my bank account, but I really did learn a lot, not so much from Jim Nachtwey, but from Leonard Freed, Paul Fusco, Gilles Peress, my immediate boss, David Strettel, from many other members of the staff (some of whom are still friends, 10 years on), and I also learned immeasurable amounts from getting the chance to go through the contact sheets of Robert Capa, HCB, and many other amazing photographers. I think internships are a good thing, generally, if you work with the right people, and I think (based on my own experience) that if you show that you’re worth having around, that some money can often be found for you. Don’t be afraid to ask. Otherwise, much of what you really learn is not from the person you’re assisting, but rather from contact with the industry itself. And I should remind some of you, if you freelance, which I sometimes still do, it is often the case that if you decide to tell a story that is not yet sold, you will have to pony up your expenses yourself, until you sell it, if you do. If you are confident in your skills, think you know how to sell, and have the energy and diplomacy to try to sell stories by yourself, go forth and think up a project, shoot it, and set about selling it. That really is the ultimate unpaid internship.

    • John, what you say about freelancing is true but at least at the end of the day, the work you are putting in is for your own work and not someone elses who will profit from it.

  46. To expect someone to work for free so that James N. can make more money for himself is clearly unfair. Added to that he expects a highly skilled person. What does the unpaid employee gain from this job? – Clearly N. gets free labour but surely part of the deal should be what the unpaid intern ‘learns’ This job description doesn’t offer much.- Anyone thinking of applying should consider that.

  47. David Burnett good points.

    However, You are a decent guy. Many of these old guys are not. They are arrogant pricks (shall we say 80% of Magnum).

    Let’s get real. It seems like Jim and other people have been rubbing some of these young bucks the wrong way. They want to teach him a lesson. Is it really about pay vs. not pay? partially but a lot of it has to do with being decent.

    Are people writing nasty things about you online? No. Why is that?

    Maybe the mean comments are good way getting people to shape up. I don’t know.

    • Hey, Anonymous, don’t be arrogant here… It’s not because someone is an egomaniacal prick that you can’t learn from ’em. ;)

      Speaking of rubbing young bucks the wrong way, I was told a Jim story a few years back. He was photographing a demonstration in New York, and some punk started abusing a fat old geezer with a beat FM2 (something to do about real photographers not using shitty old cameras, iirc). Jim took the kid aside, and told him to stop messing with Antonin Kratochvil (very likely saving the kid’s sorry ass from an epic beating in doing so, I may ad). Another apocryphal story was something that the boss of Imapress liked to remind his photographers of : “if i need a photographer, i’ll walk down the street, kick a thrashcan, and a few will fall out” – this was in the 80’s…

      As a sidenote, i’m as struck as Chris is by the lack of testicular fortitude many commenters here are displaying. Cut the anonymous cowardice, and come out. You’ve got something to say about Jim’s studio making qualified people work for free ? Well, say it to his face – or do you really think he’s so powerful he’ll make a vodoo doll and burn you ? What lesson are you teaching Jim by anonymously bitching on a website ? That you can bitch anonymously on a website ?

      While you’re at it, step back a bit, and go whine at the people who run, and teach, in every single photography program (you know, the ones where you pay tens of thousands a year to attend, talk about affirmative action for the already-privileged…) – if there’s an over-supply of qualified, eager young photographers in a saturated market, it’s probably their fault as well, right ?

  48. I think Christopher Morris makes a good point about people posting their names with their comments. One of the most irritating parts of the internet is the way that its de facto promise of anonymity can cheapen the level of discourse all over the world.

    How many people who have posted such personal attacks on James Nachtwey would say those things to his face? How would you like it if this same number of people said such things about you? Really, imagine it what it would feel like. Such vitriol. People have made some fairly wild assumptions about what this small, relatively insignificant ad says about a man’s entire character. Do you believe the posts you’ve written here should stand for who you ultimately are? Maybe you do.

    Yeah, we could debate the merits of unpaid internships. For instance, you could come to work for me. I would pay you something because I don’t think I could sleep at night if I paid you nothing, but I can promise you that if you had very many skills I couldn’t pay you close to what you would be worth to me. I don’t get very many assignments and I don’t make very much money at all. For most of us, these are pretty hard times.

    You could learn some things working with me. I’m a decent photographer and I’ve had to survive some things that have made me a more thoughtful person sometimes. But what would you or someone else actually be looking to learn? Would you be better off with the little money that I could offer you (which wouldn’t be fair compensation) or would you be better off taking a completely unpaid job with Jim Nachtwey? Because I can promise you that I couldn’t offer you the kind of glimpse into the business that he could. Not even close. How many photographers could?

    Just for starters, whether you think he’s a great photographer or not, Jim Nachtwey has very likely seen more wars than any person living on the planet. Maybe more than anyone else in human history. I mean, someone might feel that that alone might be worth a few months of his/her time. If you had any aspirations to be a conflict photographer, wouldn’t you imagine you could pick up a valuable thing or two? You might be able to learn something that would keep you from getting killed someday in some lonely hellhole, far from home.

    Really, it’s clear to any reasonable person that working with James Nachtwey would be a one of a kind job and that he definitely has some pretty valuable things to offer in return. I would say that it’s also clear that he was mistaken not to have stated some of those things in the ad, but at the same time I’m not sure it would have made a difference to some of you whether he had or not.

    As someone who was once almost beaten to death by a mob for being a photographer, I’ll tell you that the lynch mob mentality I’ve seen here is pretty disturbing to me. Please, people, aren’t we above that?

  49. I find it difficult to understand the intensity of the personal attacks on JN. You might not like what he is doing, but separate that from his art. Surely it’s possible to debate these issues withut being so viscious in attacking someone, using foul language in what is nothing less than character assasination of the worst order. But that’s the beauty of the internet, no so? The ability to hide behind the mask of anonymity and hurl out every possible insult in the most primitive, dark, animal way possible.

    I’m South African, thousands of miles from JN, and have never met, nor probably will meet JN. I can only judge his work. But at 53 years old, I’d do this internship willingly because I still have so much to learn, and one can learn from any experience, good or bad.

  50. I, too, think unpaid internships don’t make a whole lot of sense. However, I also don’t think hanging around in New York is ever the best way to break into this profession. Better to go off and do a project you are passionate about, move with stealth and create a niche for oneself in another part of the world.

  51. Like his work or not you’d be mistaken to deny that he is one of the most significant photographers alive. So some photoshop experience means you’re above working for him? ( Can the personal attacks end please?) Most of us, at one time or another, have PAID other photographers to go to their workshops, classes, photo schools, etc. . Yes or no? Ah…. going to school,SVA, Pratt, ICP, etc.. in NYC doesn’t come cheap. Apparently Stephen Wilkes, ( this is second hand so correct if necessary) began in business with Jay Maisel who took a high % of his proceeds from assignments.( for extended period of time!!.) You could look at that as highway robbery or as a springboard to a hugely successful career. This too is an opportunity. Take a shot or walk away. PS: Never met the guy. Think he should pay but it ain’t up to me to tell him how to run his biz. Happy Holidays!

  52. @Dalen

    I note that you wrote that “Apparently there is no benefit in using this internship as a stepping stone”.

    Are you sure there is no benefit? Can you be so sure that the intern will have no benefit? Or that “benefit” is nothing more than a “stepping stone”?

    You do not seem too sure, and yet you are so dogmatic?!

    I like what John Trotter wrote. And I may add that only those full of themselves, unteachable, and bigoted cannot learn something useful from spending 3 months with a photographer like JN, paid or unpaid, or even paying to work for JN!

    • pn,
      Of course if you want to broadly use the word benefit it can apply to anything. I benefited from having $20,000 withheld from me on a bad business relationship. I learned some lessons on what not to do in trusting so-called friends. So one can benefit from just about anything. I think it’s obvious I was referring to those complaining about their experience with Mr. Nachtwey and the benefits I was talking about was the direct benefit of having one you intern for giving you a recommendation and good word for you in the industry. If in fact this rarely happens with Nachtwey then I personally wouldn’t waste my time. I know that there are always two sides to a story, and have been around enough politics to know that it’s impossible to judge without knowing both sides. That’s why I used words like “if”, and “apparently”. Nachtwey could be very just to his interns and treat them according to their production. Whichever the truth is no one without first hand experience really knows, and I sure Nachtwey doesn’t care what people here write about him, as well he shouldn’t. I’m still enjoying these insulting rants from both sides.

  53. Terrible and senseless comments. In these hard times we should at least respect each other.

    Hiding behind the internet’s anonymity is a tremendous act of cowardice.

    If you ask many photojournalists how they started out I am sure lots will tell you that it was through some form of unpaid commitment. I certainly have.

    If you cant find a way to survive in this industry then don’t bother with it. It’s not for you.

    James Nachtwey is one of the reasons why I am doing this job. He has been and always will be an inspiration for so many in this industry.

    I would find it an honor to be able to see first hand how is studio is run.

    • That’s pathetic Guy.

      You have a bizarre understanding of the word ‘respect’.

      Outside of the tiny bubble of your existence it’s not earned by the photos you take, but by how one human treats another.

      Yes a few of the comments here are equally as nasty as your own, but how (for example) is this a terrible, senseless or anonymous comment?

      John (

      ‘I teach at a university, and talk to a lot of students about internships. It’s clear to me that unpaid internships function as affirmative action programs for the already privileged. You may as well hang out a sign that reads “Poor Kids Need Not Apply.” They simply can’t afford to.

      Nachtwey is far from the only offender and photography by no means the only industry to rely on unpaid internships. They’re all over the show — business, government, non-profits, NGOs….

      They’re especially shameful when they’re attached to individuals — such as Nachtwey — and institutions that claim to be working in the interest of social justice.’

  54. No one deserves attacks upon their character like the ones written in this comments section.

    If you agree or disagree with his ad for an intern, the man deserves respect for what he has done and photographed.

    He may or may not be the perfect human, but the man has created a tremendous body of work that has made a significant contribution to our understanding of problems in our world.

  55. I’d have a lot more respect for Canon if they revoked VII’s sponsorship. I’m sure many young PJs would too. This fiasco makes Canon look very bad and irresponsible for supporting businesses that shamelessly exploit people without remorse.

    • James Leonard, Your saying that VII shamelessly exploit people without remorse. What are you claiming here. State some facts. I can produce a long line of people inside and outside the industry that VII has directly helped.

      Through this blog all of you are becoming judge and jury, without any facts.

      Is this the true face of our industry.

      Yours Truly.

      Christopher Morris

  56. I absolutely cannot believe the vulgar and ignorant know- nothings who commented on James Nachwey’s request… If I were a young artist I would crawl to the top of a mountain on my knees to work for him. It is an opportunity of a lifetime for a young artist. Being, in essence, an apprenticeship is a privilege that we rarely have nowadays. Mr. Nachwey is today’s Goya and for those whose unkind comments are on this site who do not know who Goya is, well, I would not be too surprised. You might think that photographers make big money but war and poverty does not sell as well as you might presume. I cannot speak for anyone’s income but as an artist I know no good ones that are rich from their work and I have seen plenty of crappy ones who live a lot better than they deserve. James Nachwey has more guts and courage in doing what he does to bring the dark part of this world, war, poverty and heroism to all of us. By the way to the peasants who have denigrated him, the scary incredible pictures from beneath the WTC collapse were taken by this bravest of artists. You who have trashed this man ought to look at his great work and apologise.
    Professor Neil Fiertel
    University of Alberta
    Edmonton, Ab, Canada

    • a reply to Prof. Emeritus…
      as a former photo student who’s worked in the industry for 5 years, first i have to clarify that I’m *not* against the whole idea of internship and apprenticeship. i support all the mentorship programs around, however, this specific ad from the famous James Nachtwey is quite outrageous in a few ways:
      – the requirement of a minimum of at least 3-unpaid-month period (does it mean the intern shouldn’t look for any possible job opportunity in the industry during the time? what if he does get hired by someone else before the 3 months are done?)
      – the demand of 3 days of work each week or MORE if needed (i have to wonder if it’s possible at all for this intern to get any other part-time job to make a living during the 3-month period)
      – the long list of SKILLS required for this ‘opportunity’ sounds like they need an experienced professional who’s been soaked in the industry for years, in that case, he/she should get paid for the skills/experiences he/she possesses
      Been through such ‘opportunity vs exploitation’ dilemma so many times and willingly being taken advantages of for more than a few times, it’s not easy to say if this is going to be beneficial or not…

  57. Unpaid internships are for the rich … in any industry. Goya of photography or not, Prof. Fiertel, only a small number of people will have the wherewithal to do this one. But it’s always like this. The rich have the advantage because they can afford a better education, better mentors, and can self sponsor their efforts to be successful.

  58. There are about 500 to 1000 photographers as talented as jn. I suggest you try to work with them. the only reason people know about jn is he’s worked a lot for TIME Magazine and he is a good self promoter. if you really want to learn about photography I suggest you study the other 1000 photographer’s work. go to the library. jn not that important. he didn’t even create the best work out of bosnia or iraq. call up yuri kosyrev, gilles peres, emmanuel ortiz, etc., etc. not everyone is so corporate.

  59. Hmmm. Several people have noted the anonymity thing. It is annoying. Maybe more of you should fess up, and let the rest of us see your stuff. (I’ve been looking at John Trotter’s stuff, it’s great, especially the “No Agua…” beautiful. ) What about the rest of ya? If you think Nachtwey is over rated, what are you doing? I’m no HCB, but even if I think somebody sucks, I give ’em the chance to tell me the same.

  60. Interesting stuff, duckrabbit. Will look further when I have a faster connection. MSF is a great organization, not known nearly as well as it should be here in the USA. Have you seen Ed Kashi’s multimedia piece on Niger Delta?

    • Yep … have featured it … funny Ed’s work resonates much more for me than Nachtwey. I have lived in Africa and I find Ed’s work much more accurate and with greater depth. I think he has a stronger feel for people and place.

  61. I have been reading the above comments and I think that it is a shame that so many are taking cheap shots via the anonymity of the web.

    Lets try to stick to the facts at hand – does anyone with legal qualifications know whether this unpaid internship he is advertising is infact illegal? If so, then he should be duly prosecuted under the labor act. Or alternatively the ad post should be removed.

    If not, then all of his detractors should come forward in person and apologize, with real names. To make it in this industry you need dedication, intuition and guts. Plain and simple. Perhaps an unpaid internship is what is needed so you can toughen up with paid factory work to cover living costs or something of that ilk.

    HOWEVER, there would be no chance in hell that I would take that position – not because it is morally wrong/unjust or is taking advantage of the poetential candidate as most have argued above.

    And the reason that I wouldn’t take that position is because Nachtwey is without a shadow of a doubt the most overrated photographer working today, next to Martin Parr.

    His photographs lack soul, plain and simple. He relies on shock value through distressing images to transmit his message to his audience and the result is a lack of poetry in the printed image. I am still yet to see any of his images that capture a vignette of life that doesn’t involve chaos, war or disorder.

    Next to legends like Eugene Smith, Davidson, Bresson, Erwitt, Rene Burri, Koudelka and more younger contemporary photographers like Richard Kalvar, Sanguinetti, Sobol and Sarfati – Nachtwey’s work lacks soul. Those photographers mentioned above were and are true photographers because they manage/d to capture the soul of their subject without relying on the subjects to be distressed through the chaos of their environment before their hidden subconcious emerges. Trying to capture the unguarded moment in a peaceful environment is one of the greatest challenges facing a photographer.

    Nachtwey’s wayward lack of poetic imagery is highly evident in that monstrosity he decided to publish, ‘Inferno’. Besides it being overly large, it is riddled with images that are just their for shock value. The intuition required to produce these images is certainly dispropotionate to the skill level required to take photos like a W Eugene Smith or Erwitt. They possess/ed intuition, Nachtwey does not, period. Critics beside myself have been screaming this for years. The photography public and curators are slowly emerging from their self imposed cocoon and starting to question the relevance and skill level required to produce images from the book ‘Inferno’.

    Also, the publishing decision to produce a book that large with a redundant style of imagery is arrogant to say the least. Most photographers produce a larger retrospective style book towards the end of their career or it is published after they are dead. That subsequent book will then highlight a shift in styles and imagery that was pertinent to their career. However Inferno has the same imagery repeated over and over like a travelling out of date circus.

    It was no surprise that there was a massive sigh of relief when he moved across to VII. He had outstayed his welcome at Magnum and many members that I know on a personal level were incredulous of the attention he was garnering while he was there. Still are.

    So, I don’t see anything wrong with an unpaid internship – as long as its not illegal and YES this needs to be varified. If it is illegal Nachtwey has a lot to answer for in court.

    However, I wouldn’t work for Nachtwey in a million years, paid or unpaid and not because it is morally or legally wrong, instead just because he doesn’t have that rare gift of intuition that the other gifted photographers were given.

    So, I would travel continents and mountains for those other photographers that I mentioned, all for the sake of the opportunity to work alongside legends.

  62. Maybe he is trying to cut down his Carbon footprint (commendable) and wants to create poverty closer to home so he doesn’t have to travel so far anymore (enterprising)?

    “I have been a witness, and these comments are

    our testimony. The events we have recorded should

    not be forgotten and must not be repeated.”

  63. Huh. Dunno, Henri. Nachtwey’s images are pretty immediate, and have impact. Modern people in the west are attracted to these traits. You could be criticizing the whole western zeitgeist. I like Luc DeLehay for his sense of color and Alex Webb for his visual puzzles, but I wonder if really looking at images isn’t too much work for some people these days. Nachtwey has punch. It’s not the way I see, but it touches people, and it sells. (Duckrabbit: like your site, will bookmark you guys)

  64. What’s quite clear from the ad is that the photographer in question (of whom, I’m afraid, I have never heard) requires the services of someone who is already in possession of fairly high levels of skill. In which case there is, I think, an obligation to remunerate, even if not at equivalently high levels. It’s called courtesy, if not generosity.

    To require the “intern” (this concept doesn’t seem very prevalent in Europe; we’re just backward I guess) to work at exacting tasks in the commercial domain, for no wages at all, is outrageous IMHO. Of course it takes two to tango and the person who accepts such a contract is almost invariably going to be someone who doesn’t need money very much. Which, as others have noted, is discriminatory against poorer people, no matter how talented. And some poor people, it’s worth noting, have talent; of course it’s frequently strangled by economic and social oppression. This is probably worse in the USA where social mobility has been steadily declining over a long period now, despite the widely propogated illusion that the reverse is true.

    There was a government sponsored equivalent “intern” program during the Thatcher regime in the UK, known as the “Youth Opportunities Scheme”. It was a miserable failure.

    I hope Mr N. is smarting from the negative comments he has certainly received, but I doubt that he cares; anyone with a degree of sensitivity wouldn’t have placed the ad in the first place. As for the ad hominem comments being inappropriate, I’m afraid that his high-handed requirements richly deserve a measure of insult. His ad is insulting and arrogant – whether he’s talented and successful or not.

  65. John, after reading your comments it is blatantly obvious that you under estimate the audience. For you to assume that the a large portion of the west, critiques images with the same criteria and motivations is foolhardy.

    Yes Nachtwey’s images are immediate and impart impact through their mere shock value. Yes, some photography viewers are seduced by these cheap tricks of westerners taking third world tours under the pretence of photo-journalists and leaving with black and white stills inside of souvenirs. But, no we don’t all succumb to this stereotype.

    I don’t know where you have been for the last 5 years, but in galleries and on the internet among other places there has been something of a revolt against this type of photography. Despite the difficult travelling conditions in third world countries and the inherent dangers associated with that, it doesn’t present the challenge of acquiring photos as they already tinged with that flavor of exotic. No, the real challenge like I mentioned in my above post, is to produce magical in the everyday. A talent Nachtwey does not possess in his arsenal or bag of tricks. He is out. Done.

    Believe it or not, it takes more than third world poverty stricken photos to appeal to the more discerning viewers in the photography world, aka critics, gallery owners, publishers, print buyers. This group of people is constantly in the hunt for that little bit of magic that passes by the large majority of us.

  66. Duckrabbit: I like Ed’s work too. more humane, and more human, less sensationalistic. And he’s a decent guy, too, interesting, insightful, intelligent. A good conversationalist, likes big issues, not one for small talk, cares about what he’s doing. He’s worth meeting, I’ve talked with him a couple of times. Maybe there should be a discussion of what’s going on with people like him, and less worrying about whether Nachtwey is a nice guy or not.

      • duckrabbit

        you’re an asshole. why don’t you take one more opportunity to promote yourself on this blog, you self-righteous degenerate.

  67. O.K., Henri, calm down. Let me try again. I think that many people are, well, sort of lazy in their reading of photographs, and that the mass market media encourages this. I worry that people only want to see the punchy, impact obsessed stuff. Appreciating great work of any kind requires attention, which is something people seem not to have enough of these days. Photographers spend less time on assignment than they used to, and photo editors seem to prize “quick reading” (high impact) images for every shot in a layout. It reminds me of modern action movies or video games, and maybe that’s where they are coming from, I don’t know. I agree with you, empathy, the ability to convey calm, are among the most important things in human perception, but the mass market seems at times to be beating those things out of the mass of people. Just look at the world. I’ve shown photographs of kids in school and farmers bringing rice to market in Lao, to American college kids, and they seem astonished that people in other cultures have regular lives! Why? Because every photo they seem to remember of other societies seems to be of war or someone starving to death. I think sometimes media rarely shows more detailed, contemplative stuff because they fear to bore their audience and loose “eyeballs” to a competitor. Complexity, compassion, and deeper understanding lose out to an all embracing desire to simplify the world down to it’s basest elements. I’m not a curator, or an art critic, and I know that such people, and many connoiseurs of photography have refined tastes and a better understanding of images than most ordinary consumers of images. My hat’s off to them, they know more than I will ever find out. My issue is that most people only see stuff which is calculated to shock, and sell, and that only. For lots of people, that’s all they see. I would like to see more photography that allows the people of the world to see the humanity in each other. people should see that, and we should give it to them.

  68. Hey Jamie,

    Are you the svengali behind all this????? how about setting some ground rules for your blog, i.e. no profanity, mean comments, etc. and having a delete button so everything isn’t etched in stone.

    Are you the one fanning the flames on lightstalkers so people come to your blog and know about you? Or is it your business partner David Allen Harvey, another old mean guy. What a dirty old man. He only pays attention to his female students.

    • I was wondering the same!

      I had seen a contributor in this thread sparring with another VII photographer in Lightstalkers.

      This thread was mentioned also in The Online Photographer. Unlike this thread, the comments in The Online Photographer were civilised. Opinions were given, but without the venomous and childish vitriolics.

  69. Harvey has chimed in over on Burn:


    yesterday for our Burn meeting we simply were not getting a good net signal…the few skype calls we did make to some of you were garbled, so we just gave up…and some of you were just not available when we did try to call…

    regarding the Nachtwey free internship controversy…first , i was shocked at the vitriol that came out of that job want ad….i never read anything like that in my life….the net can obviously be really ugly …

    a few thoughts…first of all, i paid hard cash for a grad school education experience which in retrospect i might have been much better off in a free internship environment..a less expensive education and perhaps a better one…. it would depend of course on who you are interning for and expectations and what one makes out of it…most interns here in new york have a paying job somewhere else or are going to NYU or ICP and the internship is simply in addition to whatever else they may be doing…

    the other thought about this is that i am quite sure Jim had no clue the ad was placed…i am sure his well paid studio manager and regular paid staff placed the ad seeking additional help for a show or something that was coming up…were i a new photographer in new york i might see this as an opportunity to make a good impression, learn a few things, and hope that i was doing such a good job, making myself valuable etc., that if a paid opening came up , i would be in line for it…the number of phone calls and emails that i receive monthly at my studio at at Magnum as well from young photographers requesting to be unpaid interns is overwhelming…i am sure Jim’s studio manager put in the requirements for this unpaid job just to eliminate the dozens of calls and requests and get it down to those who were very serious and very qualified…unpaid internships are common in new york in all businesses, particularly the fashion business..the aim of the intern of course is to get a leg in the door…Alex Webb started as an unpaid intern at Magnum as a 20 year old student…there must be dozens of stories similar…

    having said of of this, i do pay my staff…i even take it one step further and i have them on commissions whenever possible…if i get a good ad job for example, whoever is working for me gets a “piece of the pie”…i also encourage anyone who is thinking about working for me to create their own job…take a look at my studio, my archive, my messy closet, and figure out a job for yourself …this really works…and anyone who decides on their own to just come and help us out a bit, i make sure that i look at their portfolios, give them a project to think about, help them edit, etc etc…trade out works too…i do have volunteers who ask me if they can please please help us at workshops…they know they will learn a lot by making coffee for us all week long and helping just keep things tidy…anyone who makes a good impression on me, will undoubtedly benefit somehow some way in the long run….

    i have watched James Nachtwey walk down the streets of Bangkok…he will drop money in every beggars hand….i know for a fact that he supports a couple of young Thai photographers with their college education…quietly and without fanfare….it is a shame that the ad was not placed with at least some wording regarding the fact that i am sure Jim, if in new york, would give this person some of his time…i am sure he would because i have seen the care he takes when viewing a photographer’s portfolio…neither Jim nor any of us can see every single email that goes out from people who work for us..again, i doubt he even knew of this ad placement….and whoever does get this voluntary internship, if they have any sense at all, will indeed make the most of it and use it for their next step in the best possible way…

    cheers, david”

  70. This is the first time I had ever heard of the guy. Googled him, and what I saw was a cheap rip off of the Vietnam war era photographers. Pretentious, and desperate to stir emotions. Overly exploitive.

    As far as internship…further proves this guy is nothing but a hack

    • With all due respect that’s an ignorant assessment. The fact that you didn’t know who he was until you Googled confirms that.

  71. Jamie from the List chiming in…

    Well, well, well. My blog has created quite a firestorm to say the least…

    While the commentary on this post came at an unexpected and surprising level, I believe this speaks to greater industry issues that need to be addressed directly.

    Therefore, I have decided to invite industry leaders in a series of postings over the next week to write posts that deal specifically with the issues you all have discussed. I have invited the heads of major publications, professional organizations and independent photographers to respond to this topic is a formal and educational discourse.

    I have also contacted Jim Natchwey’s studios to ask if they would like to respond to this on a separate posting.

    Please keep checking the post to see the responses and add your own commentary in as well. I look forward to a formal and rational dialogue on this timely and important topic for the industry.

    And on a personal note, I’d like to ask you all to keep the cursing and defamatory comments confined to a barstool with your friends and leave it off my blog.

    -Jamie Rose
    Photographer & Director of Workshops for Momenta |

    • To all readers of Jamie’s List:

      To clarify the nature of this blog and hopefully manage the overwhelming commentary, I would like to address the following.

      I have been out of town and off email for the weekend since this flurry began. I didn’t even know it had happened until this morning. I have not commented until now because I frankly was completely unaware of this.

      My blog is solely independent and I receive no compensation from advertisements nor do people pay me to post things here. People submit content to me directly via email or Facebook and ask me to post it. Likewise, I will post interesting tidbits I find on open sources for the general interest. I do not post confidential emails or internal documents. The posts you read here were either given to me directly or in the public domain.

      I do not use nor support the use of anonymous sock puppets in open internet forums. If I decide to weigh in on other people’s blogs (which I have not done about this post yet), I will weigh in as “Jamie Rose” and take ownership of my commentary. I would like to ask that the same respect is given to my blog.

      David Alan Harvey has his own blog and his own business. He was an instructor for Momenta Workshops and that is all. Whatever commentary he makes on this topic or any other is solely his own.

      I believe in free speech and the ability of photographers to be able to dialogue about our business without censorship. If someone feels the need to curse, make personal attacks or behave in a juvenile fashion, it is their business. If they choose to misrepresent themselves as someone else, I will delete it. I would like to ask that you be respectful and conduct yourselves in a professional manner when commenting on this or any other blog posting. Other than that, I will allow people to discuss their opinions and thoughts free of censorship in the spirit of open discourse.

      This could be the start of a great conversation about our business and the state of the industry. I hope you will be patient while I access other industry professionals to add to this dialogue so we can move forward in a positive, educational manner.


  72. Please stop fighting.

    The overall market for imagery is $7 to 8 billion dollars. There’s enough money in the photography business for people to earn a fair living. The problem is most of the money is going to “middle men” not the photographers. The government has consistently supported this with laws that favor big businesses over small businesses. This resulted in the consolidation of the photography and other businesses.

    Jim, Nachtwey is really a bit player in the grand scheme of things. Getty, Corbis, Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Time, Inc., royalty free image companies and the government, etc. are the problem. Please focus your energies on attacking these entities. Go after Bill Gates. Go after Jonathan Klein, the CEO of Getty. Go after Warren Hellman and Tully Friedman of Hellman and Friedman, the private equity firm that owns Getty Images. Contact your Member of Congress (MOC).

    I admire the passion of the people exhibited here but PLEASE DIRECT it toward the right people. They want us to bicker. They want there to be only one or two stars they pay a lot so the rest have to fight over crumbs.

    And Jim you MUST be a leader and help these young people. You and VII should hire 10 interns just to work on these issues. Magnum, Contact, NOOR, Aurora, Redux, etc. should do the same. If you don’t, you all will be out of business in a few years.

    Enough already.

  73. When I went to the interview for my first photo-job, 23 years ago, I offered to do it for free for 3 months, just to get in there. It was a simple catalogue studio in the North West UK….. (not even London).
    As it was I was given the job over hundreds of other applicants (and I had missed the deadline date, so had to beg to even see the studio manager) and worked my ass off for the equivalent of $5000 a year. I lived in a small attic room and ate beans and toast and cycled to the studio every day. I sold my cameras to pay my rent knowing I could use ones from the studio in my spare time – like there was ever any! I would have done it for nothing and would have worked nights or done whatever I had to be there. I did get loans and cards to survive – but what’s new…..students get loans and pay good money to get degrees whilst still working out of college time.

    There appears to be a level of arrogance amongst a lot younger people wishing to get into the business these days that is overwhelming. I lecture part-time on a few degree courses now and the poison-chalice of digital imaging seems to make every tardy and emotionally and aesthetically-lazy ne’er -do-well think they are owed a living in one of the most over-subscribed professions on the planet.

    Get some humility and get some respect for people who have already trodden the path, or shut up and go and work at MacD’s.


    PS Whether or not you like or dislike Mr. Nachtwey’s work, he is owed common decency – regarding the level of vitriol I see here.

  74. True, Mr. Murray. When you freelance, you are working for yourself (It makes it much easier to tell people that your boss sucks). Nevertheless, you are producing a commodity, and you need to sell it through middlemen, one way or another, either through an agent, a distributor, a buyer for a magazine company or even, potentially, as a non-member of a cooperative like Magnum or VII. Everybody will get their cut. (photo agents always seem better dressed than photographers) Magnum started to give photographers some control of this process, while allowing them to retain their copyright. Perhaps we need a new kind of cooperative, a variation on the Magnum theme, but more a loose organization of freelancers who can pool resources to pay attorneys and back office staff. Some things have been tried, but dead little agencies would fill a pretty large graveyard. It may be, as some have predicted, that a whole new age of electronic distribution and pubishing is coming, where cheap electronic distribution will undercut monsters like Getty / Corbis, but the crystal ball remains cloudy, and the average freelancer is still at the mercy of a system that favors big players.

  75. I’ve neglected to get involved in the continual debate about the appropriateness of compensation regarding Interns for a number of reasons.

    The most important reason is that I started as an intern at VII studios, and over the course of the last few year I’ve developed both personal and professional relationships with many of the members of VII photo agency.

    Strangely the extended experience that I’ve had with VII makes me reluctant to weight in, but as both Chris and David have pointed out, the line between personal and professional critiques has blurred. It doesn’t seem right to allow this kind of conversation to continue without my offering at least my professional response.

    Let me be clear, I’m not an unbiased observer. There’s not a member, associate or VII mentor, former or present, that I don’t have tremendous professional respect for.

    Additionally my experience is a particular one. Many of the people I count as friends in the photography world started in positions not dissimilar the one Jim advertised for. I’m proud to stay that in the intervening years, they have gone on to form agencies, shoot for the NYT, TIME, Newsweek, Vanity Fair, Stern etc. Some have realized with increased exposure to the news industry that photojournalism wasn’t for them. They’ve traded time and energy for the opportunity to learn. In some cases those same interns later competed and successfully took paying jobs directly from the photographers they used to intern for. That also is the reality of the photojournalism world.

    The debate about reimbursement is a valid one and one that needs to happen in an format that allows for honest reasoned conversation. Our industry is going thru another massive transition. This time the transition will be larger and more monumental then the conversion from film to digital. It an uncertain time that may require different approaches. Perhaps the internship/mentorship model is no longer valid.

    On a personal note I’m not completely sure that is a vaild argument. My experience in initially working hard for little or no pay worked so well for me in photojournalism, that I took a unpaid research position as a graduate student. In both cases, I’m finding a relatively small amount of hardship at the beginning has provided me the opportunity to meet and work with people that I didn’t have the initially credentials to work for or with. I profited greatly both in experience but also finically from my initial photojournalism internships, and it looks like my graduate experience will be similar.

    Unfortunately I’ll be traveling for the holidays and unable to monitor either Jamies List or Lightstalker’s to follow the conversation as it develops. Please don’t misread, my lack of response. I’m simply consumed with other topics.

    Jamie, I applaud you for encouraging a reasoned conversation on this issue. Our industry has many contentious aspects, which inspire strong reactions. To the extent that I can assist you in that, please let me know.

    Chris, I concur. Stating a strongly worded position without taking authorship does nothing to increase its authority. These kinds of anonymous posts more closely resemble liable then intelligent debate.

    David, I second your thoughts on how ultimately influential seemingly mindless task can be. It is that process of discovery that ultimately makes photography an interesting pursuit.

    Matt B, I love your use of language.

    PS. I’ve posted this both on Lighstalkers and Jamie’s list.

  76. In South Africa we have a term in the Afrikaans language called Voetstoets – Willing buyer, willing seller…meaning in this sense that if someone is willing to work for free to gain the experience of working with a Master for a few months, then that is up to that person.
    So who are you going to sue and for what?

      • What if I chose to do the work for them in order to gain experience?

        I think a real-life hands-on experience is an excellent proposition to gain experience!

      • “There’s a difference between working for someone to gain experience and doing the work for them.”

        Explain this. Too sophisticated for me.

      • You can makes cups of tea, move lights about the way he wants,watch what the photographer is doing, hand him backs thats working for him.

        Doing the work for him is taking the pics, doing the lighting yourself without being told,doing all or some of the editing while he gets credit.

  77. There is only one thing true here. The person who fills the intern position will gain an enormous amount of experience and knowledge and will have the added benefit on his/her resume – while all of you sit around and complain while gaining nothing at all.

  78. The internship add has a list of things ‘what we want’, but not a single thing ‘what you get from us’.

    They need at least an intern who will have the time to prepare a decent add when they are seeking for the next intern.

  79. Wow, I can believe the ramifications due to an unpaid internship listing. I have had to delete (close to) a 100 email notifications to my “In-box” :o

  80. Jesus Mary and Joseph people. I can’t believe this.
    I cannot believe how many people are not willing to work, actually work to learn from one of the best photographers of our time. That he is overrated, not that good, a prima donna while traveling the globe. You people are a joke. Clearly, very clearly you have never done anything remotely like what JM and colleagues have done. Clearly, you have never been shot at, shit on, fucked for hours waiting to get the picture you need, risking life and limb…but oh yeah exploiting victims of horrible things. If you don’t want to LEARN something, why go to school, hmmm? Do you get paid to go to school? Hmmmmm? No I didn’t think so. That he requires an intern is really interesting…clearly JN did not write the add. And that he is looking for an intern says to me that he is willing to let someone capable enter his world.. I’d do it.
    So people, stop complaining about how unfair and wrong this is, pull your finger out, and get to work, WORK, work as hard as JN does…then check yourself. Are you up to snuff? Hmmmm? Oh and by the way, I’m a freelancer, have been for years, and I have worked along side some of the people you knuckleheads are so quick to condemn for their affiliations etc…you don’t know what you are talking about, because I know, have experienced, and seen what these people have to go through to get the photos. Enough said.

  81. I know I shouldn’t keep responding, but all of this has really moved me to keep responding.

    Ms. Brown wrote earlier plus a few others in response to my supposed support of Jim. And now with direct attacks on the agency that I belong and love, an agency that is a family. It would be a sad statement I feel…. if I didn’t step up and defend what we have created.

    “Tina Brown
    Mr. Morris, has it ever occurred to you that ‘the way the industry works’ is corrupt and stupid and generally fucked-up? Nobody likes ‘the way the industry works’ except for those on the top of it.”

    Why not make it better?

    Ms. Brown why not ask some of the below photographers, who VII has stepped up and tried to help. They are not members they are not in our Network……. they are in our mentor program. A program to help young, start up photographers. Help them get a foot in the door.

    They are all young photographers who are not sitting around complaining and whining about how bad the industry is and how photographers on the top of the profession are trying to exploit them. They are trying to better themselves by getting out there and taking meaningful pictures… These are the photographers I’m proud of.

    Agnes Dherbeys
    Giulio Di Sturco
    Adam Ferguson
    Benedicte Kurzen
    Don McNeill Healy
    Maciek Nabrdalik
    Anastasia Taylor-Lind

    • Chris…so many people just don’t get it…keep the faith, keep doing what you do…from what I’ve seen, the work of Benedicte, Adam, Agnes….wonderful. Let the rant’s rant, this is what they do, it’s all they can do.

  82. Will the intern actually get to work one-on-one “with a Master for a few months”? That would be worth the trade. I doubt this is the case.

  83. A little compensation would be nice for such a set of required skills. I doubt it would put a dent in Nachtwey’s bank roll.

    From Wikipedia: “In 2006, Nachtwey was awarded the 12th Annual Heinz Award in Arts and Humanities from the Heinz Family Foundation for his body of work[3], an honor that includes a monetary prize of US $250,000. Nachtwey is one of three winners of the 2007 TED Prize. Each recipient was granted $100,000 and one “world-changing wish” to be revealed at the 2007 TED conference, in Monterey, California.”

  84. “I have watched James Nachtwey walk down the streets of Bangkok…he will drop money in every beggars hand….i know for a fact that he supports a couple of young Thai photographers with their college education…quietly and without fanfare….”

    Pardon me if I vomit. I hadn’t realised he was a saint.

    Interesting that so much of the response is keen on discussing Mr N.’s talent. Which is irrelevant I’m afraid. Interesting too that nobody seems interested in the fact that this sort of patronising “offer” discriminates in favour of the affluent. Interesting, but not surprising. Maybe he’s just trying to achieve a balance with his charitable activities in, ahem, Bangkok…

  85. just a quick note on the JN uproar…

    over the years, i’ve written extensively (mostly at LS) in defense of ‘internships’: at Magnum, VII and individual places, because an internship, if the intent of the ’employer’ (in this case Jim) is right, this could be an extraordinarily enriching learning/educational experience. I have tried to make the argument that corporate internships, like Magnum, VII, VU, Blackstar (when it was around), Time, etc, NEED/MUST create a relationship with an educational institution as well,with would serve to add/aid academic credit,just fully cutting off the argument that it is ‘unpaid work/exploitation.’ For those who seek this work out, and are not in school, it still serves as invaluable experience, not only for one’s photographic future (a letter from Jim, for example, as reference) but MORE importantly (to me), a real opportunity to observe, discuss and learn from someone who has the knowledge/experience/acument to teach someone with less experience. when i was in university, i served 3 internships (1 in a paper, 2 in big businesses), none of which were paid, all of which (good or ill) contributed to my maturity (? ;) ) and ideas as a writer/photographer.

    I also have given tirelessly to others FOR FREE. I worked my ass of for Burn/David for the first couple of months Burn went live, as editor-at-large (meaning: finding essays/photographers/work, talking with folk, not to be misconstrued as making editorial decisions, that was/is/always will be David’s role), as a writer/commentator here, as coordinator, as email writer/encourager. I spent a lot of time writing emails, talking on the phone and meeting with photogrphers/editors to help bring steam to burn, sometimes canceling family plans or putting them on hold (to get Mustafah’s Obama essay, one early saturday morning).I have also helped edit and/or write statements/commentary for at least 7 essays that have appeared here. I still meet with photographers to help edit ther work/discuss ideas. I have never been paid, and never asked for anything. I did all this (even at times the expense of my family relationship) because i believed in David and Burn. Sometimes people give NOT for aggrandisement but because they recongize we are all inthis meat-mess together. Not everything that we do or everything that others give us requires monitary value…

    in fact, one can make the argument that someone should pay me ;)))…someone should pay JIM or in the case of Burn pay David because of the invaluable sevice, experience and ideas that they bring to bare when working collaboratively. And yet, the photoworld doesn’t get all up in arms when photographers dont asked to be paid for their time. Ask a lawyer for his time, or a doctor??…free??….

    i do believe that there is a lot of exploitive behavior in the photoworld… have seen it first hand and have, in truth, argued about it and voiced my own frustration with it: at the expense of both career opportunity and friendship. However, the behavior of the photographers on Jaime’slist is so infantile and so depressing that I was left frankly stunned at the level of vitriol and inanity. these guys have never even met Jim, let alone understand the more nuanced ideas of this situation.

    Exploitive work should be faught at all costs and it continues to this day, but giving photographers an opportunity to actually learn from someone, to actually get down inthe mud to undestand what the life and the learning of being a photographer is is an invaluable opportunity. My biggest lament about this practice is that it again separates/discriminates by wealth. Which photographers can afford to help/wrok for free?…who have the time/opportunity? Weekly, marina and i assess our own financial life as photographers (it is a struggle) and we’ve had success/been successful: imagine a young phtoographer who just would love the opportunity but did not have the freedom to have the time to commit without pay because they had to work for money elsewhere?…that is a critical area that the photoworld still has not wholly addressed….

    but like all skills, i see the world of photography as guild-like…one learns through both apprenticeship and through exprience. it is INCUMBENT upon all of us to help one another, it is incumbent upon the elder/experience to help and give back to the younge/less fortunate. I know, personally, that Jim does this in many many ways, none of which were elaborated upon in that blog argument….

    As i have written extensively about this issue before, it is not (at this point) terribly interesting or productive to re-hash my thoughts. However, what IS the most profoundly discouraging thing about the ‘discussion’ (more like full frontal vindictive attack) on Jamieslist is the shameful, cowardly and vindictive nature of most of the comments, including lots of personal attacks and just-simply wrong ideas (vis-a-vis Noor, for example).

    Like the all contentious issues which each of us face, nothing gets resolved without honest, full-disclosure, frank conversation. the level of the ‘discussion’ there is an embarrassment, frankly. I have met Nachtwey and have spoken with him and while there are some things I disagree with him profoundly (and surely respect him profoundly as a photographer) about, Jim like all others is a human being and should be treated as such as well. In order to engage Jim (or any other person), vituperative, pointless, foul name-calling invective does not service at all to the tenent of the conversation.

    Collaborative problem solving (The net) can yield extraordinary results, resources (eg, read today’s NYTimes Magazine “year in ideas’ about collaborative math solving) and networking. However, it also tends to lead to a gut of genuine compassion and honor through which more insight, even in disagreement, can be won.

    There is much that I both loathe and lament about our profession (as a collective mentality) and much that I adore, but the fact that the relationship to ‘unpaid internships’ vis-a-vis education hasnt even come up (again) is another example of how too often herd charging yields nothing but, ummm, a stampede.

    This is also dismaying and yet the good majority of the people there have yet to countenance that.

    is this a sociological inevitability of our age, the net, youth, ease (it’s easy to say horrid things about someone through the veil of protection that the anonymity of the web provides) or just our collective uncorking….

    as much as i try to champion the web as an essential goodness (it is) especially to our profession, it’s profoundly saddening to see this kind of ‘dialog’ surface, continually…

    in the end, i was left saddened by the temper and enmity and nonsense spit out. There are legitimate ideas to be discussed on this whole idea of ‘unpaid’ work and wise and kind and thoughtful people can disagree. but turning this issue into a witch hunt serves not only no purpose but ruins any chance of real dialog.

    I know, personally, that David gives back to those who help him. I say this not because i have helped or because i know david (lord knows we’ve had enough disagreements ;)), but because he does believe in helping because he has been blessed enough to have had fortune (of life) bestowed upon him and I know he relishes and cherishes that and shares it with those around him.

    I know, for a fact, Jim does s well. It is a shame that so many (younger, older photographers?) have turned this issue into hate-filled, blind enmity. It is a shame….

    for in the end, we are, none of us, anything without one another, young and old, experienced or callow, wealthy or impoverished, recongized or unknown. we are all joined and the sooner we understand that the richer our awareness shall become….

    but maybe, it will never become that. in the mean time, I would countenance others to concentrate on the importance of what really makes equitable work:

    the sharing and giving of yourself.

    “Woe to the land that’s governed by a child.”
    —from Richard III

    all the best

  86. After reading the back and forth for the last several days it seems the sentiment that its all about money and nothing else is the dominant focus. Aside from the pointless incredible vile diatribes about Jim’s work, personality and personal wealth all anyone seems to think is that a sum of money will make all equal in relationship to a temporary part time arrangement.

    Having started my career as an unpaid intern for a number of organizations and having had numerous interns work with me via educational institutions and on their own I am now considering a new conclusion about my own working relationships with interns. This is something for myself and is not from VII or Jim.

    In the past I have explained to incoming interns what I felt the relationship could do for them and for myself. An exchange of knowledge, the ability to learn how I do things that would save them time for themselves, lifetime portfolio reviews, hours of talking to them about how to work in the field and what they need to do to succeed, social and professional introductions, letters of recommendation, paid assisting jobs for clients and other photographers amongst many things. In exchange I would receive a part time worker that I would spend a few weeks training and then have a short amount of time for them to help with various things many of which were listed on Jim’s request.

    Over the years I have worked with my former interns in the field helping them where and when I could. Competing directly with them for sales and assignments, I was happy that I was able to contribute just a little bit to their success. All of my former interns that have chosen to work as pjs are successful in what they are doing today and I take great pride in that and remain in contact with all of them.

    But it appears that it would have been better just to have paid them. One because according to many of you all I did was exploit them. Two because all I really did was create more competition for myself in field that is overly crowded already.

    So I will offer the next interns the choice-I will pay you and you will work. I will not engage in your photography nor care/help or do anything to further your career. In the end your colleagues deem this the most fair proposal. So let the individual decide what he or she wants to do.

    I simply can’t afford to do both.

    • Don’t be so precious Ron!

      Who accused you of exploiting anyone, and if they did why would you take them seriously?

      What so many people seem to miss is the fact that just because someone will get a lot out of an experience doesn’t mean its alright not to pay them for it (if its work as opposed to training), or that by making it unpaid exclude others less socially mobile from that experience. Apart from that the legality of the ad is highly dubious.

      I’m sure you’ve learned a lot from your shoots over the years, but that hasn’t meant you’ve handed the check back at the end has it? The fact that you’ve learned something surely doesn’t negate what you yourself contributed?

      The problem of having stuff like the advert below taken from your site is that it excludes vast numbers of people who just cant afford to come and get that no doubt invaluable experience. To me that contradicts the values you so passionately set out above.

      Maybe its time an agency whose photography points the finger so often at a cruel world does a bit of soul searching themselves on this matter and set the standard?

      VII Photo Agency – New York and Paris

      The New York and Paris internships provide unique exposure to the archive and sales sides of the agency,
      with some level of interaction with the photographers themselves.

      Candidates should have or be pursuing a degree in photography, plus possess comparable photography work experience. The intern position requires knowledge of scanning, Photoshop and Macintosh systems.

      Requirements: 4-month commitment, full-time availability, reliable transportation and accommodation.
      This is an unpaid internship, so please be financially prepared to participate in this program.

  87. After the very heated discussion occurred on my posting last weekend, I have decided to use my blog (for the first time ever really) to host an internet discussion forum on this topic which will perhaps lead to other discussions in the future.

    I have invited colleagues from our field to comment on the issues brought up during the discussion and will be posting their replies here. At the end of the week, I will be adding my own personal thoughts but I wanted to let other industry leaders speak their piece first in an attempt to turn this dialogue into an educational discussion.

    Today’s postings come from John Harrington and Brian Smith. I have cut and pasted their exact words here:

    -Jamie Rose
    Administrator of Jamie’s List
    Director of Workshops for Momenta |

  88. These postings were sent to me yesterday and I have to say I am horrified by the responses of colleagues turning a posting for an unpaid internship (which is a valid discussion point) into an attack on Jim’s character.

    I will write that I, like John, am not an unbiased observer. Like John, there’s not a member, associate or VII mentor, former or present, that I don’t have tremendous professional respect for.

    I am a former Jim employee. I wear my badge well. We had many interns through the office who all took the position with the knowledge there was no monetary compensation. They all wanted the experience. We had individuals who held jobs outside of the studio so they could pay their bills. In my experience, the studio was flexible with scheduling and honest with the applicants.

    I have also, like many of you, gained experience from unpaid internship positions I held during college. These jobs gave me a chance to test the waters of niches of photography. It allowed me to make better decisions for my professional career. I knew what was for me and what was not.

    Don’t make someone a martyr for a bigger issue. If you have personal issue with someone that is fine. We all have issues with people.

    We are not the only industry were the unpaid internship battle is being fought.

    Walk into the any Congressional Office, Senate Office, Non-Profit. There is a very good chance you will find unpaid interns.

    There are slews of people who would probably love to hold an internship position but cannot because they would not be able to support themselves financially. That is the real issue. Are people entitled to experience? Is the system unfair to those who cannot pay their way while they hold these jobs? Should the hours be cut so people have the ability to work another job? What is fair?

    I may sound like I am condoning unpaid internships. It is not a practice I believe in. I see the pros and cons. But, if a battle is to be waged (no pun intended) we will have to be organized.

    Maybe we are at a crossroads. Possibly the tides are changing. But, as long as there are people who value the experience over the money, these types of positions will exist. I can vouch from experience that there was always tremendous response from these ads from people all willing to accept a 3 month unpaid internship to work for a photographer/company/cause whose work they respect. Battle intelligently. As a collective refuse to take similar positions. When you have an opportunity as an employer decide to pay all your interns and employees.

    Jamie, I also support you in encouraging a conversation on this issue. It is one that needs to be had. We could even stretch it out to compensation for projects when we are past the internship phase of our careers. Those outstanding invoices hurt. Keep me updated. I want in.

    Chris & John, I agree. John, you put it perfectly. These kinds of anonymous posts more closely resemble liable then intelligent debate.

    Sarah Baker
    Washington, DC

  89. I personally doubt its about the money.

    I have no problem about the concept of unpaid internship in exchange for experience when both the intern and the ’employer’ have more or less equal benefits from each other.

    For me, the thing about this particular ad is that there’s something in it that cause me to think that the intern-’employer’ relationship is a bit unbalanced.

    I would choose experience/guidance over money.

  90. I am loathe to comment on such vitriolic ramblings, but I have to because I love Jim. When I first started in the photography business, I moved to New York City from Hawthorne, Florida with nothing more than two suitcases and an old beatup Volkswagen. I interned (paid) at Time Magazine, and slept on the floors of friends’ apartments because I was so broke. I helped Jim prepare his contest entries that year, 1983, and he was so happy with my work that he asked me what he could do for me. I said, let me stay in your apartment while you are traveling. He gave me a key the next day. Jim is one of the most generous people on the planet. He has dedicated his entire life to documenting the suffering of others. He is only a man, but he is a great man. Leave him alone.

    MaryAnne Golon

  91. Although it might be a great chance to work for such a talented man I reckon nowadays, and specially people like James Nachtwey, should be much more considered towards interns.
    We are talking, in many of the cases, about young-unexperienced-willing to learn and improve-professionals who would die to have an opportunity in their careers, and the big shots know that.

    It is nonsense to say that if they want to that internship is ok, because this way of thinking is and has been the base of explotation for decades. Immigrants are used to do cheap labor, is that ok? Well, if they want to do it, why it should be bad? Peter that Southafrican expression of yours suck in this case, I am sorry.

    Supporting this kind of internships we are reinforcing the fact that photography will be just available for rich people and that is a shame, within the field of journalism and the field of art.
    I am sure that James Nachtwey, who helps Thai photographers could use some spare dollars to also help his interns. Don’t you think so?

  92. With all the fall out over the issue of VII exploiting young photographers. And the accusations that we give nothing back to the industry.

    Here is a prime example of a young photographer that I have NEVER met personally. But he is someone that took a workshop with Gary Knight, then Interned in our Paris office. When finished with this… he was faced with the decision of what to do next. With the knowledge and the experience he gained from being directly involved with VII. He did what all of us at VII had to do with our lives at the beginning of our careers. He got of his ass and went out there and did it.

    He didn’t sit back and complain about our dying industry, he didn’t sit and write nonsense on blogs and the internet how he was exploited by VII. For all you whiners out there.
    Adam Ferguson is a prime example of how to make it in our industry. He’s someone I’m very proud of. He’s someone that has a bright future ahead of him. He has already TWO of the best covers of Time Magazine that I have seen in a decade. Not bad for an unpaid Intern.

    Christopher Morris/VII,32187,1927405,00.html,29307,1890204,00.html

    Here are Adam’s two covers and a Time blog.,16641,20090420,00.html,16641,20091012,00.html

  93. Reading through these posts, I have to agree with one major criticism of the Internship system; that unpaid internships are a problem for aspiring photographers of limited means. Aside from all of the bile directed at one person or another here, this is a real problem and maybe it does need some consideration. As I said earlier, I have worked as a photojournalist (admittedly in a very minor way compared to many of you out there) , and I did have an internship at Magnum a long time ago. In my case, the people at Magnum were generous (and probably fortunate enough financially) that they were able to provide me with a small paycheck during the time I was there. Without it, I probably would have had to quit, and though I did have other jobs, commuting to, and buying lunch in, the city was just a little beyond my means. Now, after the time I was at Magnum, an opportunity came up for me to pursue the other big interests of my life, archaeology and anthropology, and so, I have spent much of the last 10 years teaching, working on excavations, assisting other archaeologists, and doing my own research, in addition to doing photography. In archaeology, there is a similar problem; young, talented people who would like to explore the profession, but who cannot afford to volunteer on an excavation, and are not yet qualified to be employed. It used to be the case that some excavations sponsored by large universities and museums would allow people to join excavations by paying to do so (If you guys are so pissed at being unpaid, imagine actually paying to go dig square holes in a desert somewhere, often in primitive conditions and far from civilization). Talented students (and sometimes non-students) who were qualified but not able to pay their own way were sometimes allowed to apply for an “assistant” position, which was I suppose was something like a scholarship. If the people in charge of the excavation considered a person useful, or knew that a person could do the work and help with directing volunteers, then a position could be created to allow that person to participate. Perhaps this shows a way forward. Agencies could set aside a little money (enough to pay a few hundred a week, perhaps) and have a competitive scholarship for people of limited means or with skills intermediate between raw interns and professional staff. There might be several potential benefits to such a scheme. The competition would attract some talented students who might otherwise give up on the profession entirely, it would be good public relations, since it would show public spirit and could raise the public profile of the agencies and the profession, it could improve connections between the agencies and schools, and it would mean that applicants would be that much more motivated to get involved, since as we all know (in such financially challenging professions as archaeology and photography)that the prospect of money does have an effect of sharpening one’s edge. And the money may not even need to be the agencies own. Professional organizations and others in the industry, like media companies or publishers, may be able to handle the fundraising and even the competition to award it. I realize that it is possible to raise lots of objections to such an approach, but I thought it was worth a mention.

    To go back to the original Nachtwey ad, and other similar ads I have seen, one significant suggestion has already been raised by several folks out there, and that is to spell out what you get. Portfolio reviews, recommendations, possible limited contributor contracts, etc., maybe such things should be spelled out more clearly. If the Nachtwey ad had offered some valuable consideration rather than only demanding things, would we be having this conversation at all?

  94. This is such sad testimony of the state of our industry. I’ve always said we only have ourselves to blame, and the attitude and behavior of many of the posters here really show that.

    I, like many others, see Jim not only as a great and inspiring photographer, but also as one of the true pillars of our profession.
    Jim is one of the few people who inspired me to go deeper into photojournalism and pursue under-reported stories (when i can afford it).

    I didn’t start my career with an unpaid internship, and I understand how the less fortunate will have a harder time accessing this internship. But just like any school (and probably much better in value) there’s a price to pay in order to gain knowledge. I worked during my school years like many other people, and nothing is stopping you from giving yourself 3 days a week with Jim and working part time the rest of the time.

    There is absolutely no room for the type of language used here, and if i was Jim, I would sue you cowards. IP addresses are recorded on the server and are easily traceable, so hiding behind a fake name isn’t going to protect you very far. I really hope some legal action is taken here, or at least, “jamie’s list” should delete or monitor this abominable page. They way I see it, you’re just a bunch of jealous kids. Maybe, if you spend more time taking photos than trashing people online you’d get somewhere in your career and wouldn’t have so much anger and envy.

    Fortunately, I’m sure there are dozens if not hundreds of young and deserving photographers who realize the opportunity that is offered here and they will be lining up to get this.

    Yes, there is a real and urgent need for the leaders of our industry to take a more active and positive role and be our voice in the ears of editors, publishers and other picture buyers.
    Jim and many other people like him take an active role in shaping the future generation of photographers. If you feel they should do more, you have the right to say so. but attacking Jim on a personal level? that’s just fucked up.

  95. Dear all,

    I am reluctant to chime in here given the malicious posts about professionals who have dedicated their lives to telling stories, but having started my career as an unpaid intern with VII Photo Agency I feel I should comment.

    Over 2005 and 2006 I spent twelve months cleaning boats to be able to afford to intern with VII in Paris, and if I had my time again I wouldn’t do anything differently. Actually, if it had of taken me two years of manual labour to be able to afford my internship it would of been worth it. VII gave me a brilliant grounding in the professional world of photojournalism. It was my chance to engage with great photographers, be privy to the workings of an international photo agency, meet photo editors, and learn how to do some of the most basic things, but things I had never had to do, like apply for visas, send out story pitches, archiving, and I could go on. Yes, there was laborious days of ‘wax on wax off’, but that was all part of it, and should be part of it.

    Yes, VII advertises for interns that have certain qualifications, there has to be some level of proficiency. Posts above have criticized VII for asking for these pre-requisites as if they are just looking for free labour. But lets not forget the exchange of knowledge that takes place in an internship, that is after all why we have them. I left VII having gained much more than I gave.

    Post internship I set off to start my own career, and in doing this I have received nothing but support from many of the VII photographers. They have continually offered advice, helped me edit my work, have allowed me to travel with them, lent me equipment and introduced me to people in the field.

    I think for a young photographer an internship at any photo agency is an incredibly valuable learning curve and insight into the path they wish to travel.



  96. To be honest Christopher I am speechless after reading your post (which indicates that you also write on blogs).

    I am very happy that Adam had the balls to work in something else while doing the free internship. Believe me, he is not a hero for that, there are many people out there who had done that before and who will.
    However, we are not talking about how far a person is ready to go to pursue his/her dream but about those in power who exploid people with the lame excuse of “giving them the experience of their life”.

    Do you really think that Adam wouldn’t be as good professional as he is nowadays if VII had paid him some cash?

    No one is whining here, we are denouncing an unfair situation. Others, careless, prefer to say that it is ok.

    • Antonio, Good morning… I’m trying to point out that an internship is an EDUCATION. It’s to… open the student up to real world situations in the business. To see first hand what one needs to do, to be a successful photographer. How an agency or studio works, what sells or does not sell. Trains them on how to be a true professional.
      Like I said in one of my original post, this is exactly how I started. It was priceless for me and as the case with Adam Ferguson, it’s been priceless for him also…
      The industry that we are in is so small and so competitive, that for anyone starting out. It’s a real advantage to be schooled in a hands on… real world situation. Your pay as an intern is just that.. It’s an education that you are paying for with you time and energy…. Just as any student does who attends school.
      Granted unpaid internships are not for everyone.. But for the ones that want to continue their education… Let them make that choice for themselves.

  97. I need to make a correction (pointed out by a friend at the NY Times):
    “Most NY Times internships are paid. The summer interns are paid quite well. Only the one day a week internships for current college or graduate students are unpaid. They must get school credit and must be getting educational value out of it.”

    I do know of some photographers who might have worked out other deals there, post-school, unpaid, in order to have this internship during the year.

    There are so many ways to make these things work. Night jobs, looking for sponsorship from groups in your country, city, town…A cheap room to stay in.

    Free lunch should be a given… and there are many other perks as have been listed. Trades are welcome by most interns. We usually have gear we are updating and many young photographers, starting out, would love to have a slightly used Canon 5D in exchange for photoshop work, filing, and so forth.

    It’s a difficult time for our industry, it might be that working at an agency like VII- with the kind of access they can offer to many people/places related to the industry-is something to consider. As far as paid or unpaid…it’s never going to be enough to live in NYC. But if you are going to make it in this world of photography you have to think of ways to make things happen– perhaps one can work out some type of agreement. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. But rude uncalled for statements won’t get you anywhere.

    I will bow out of this now.



  98. Rarely do I have the time to read blogs, Lightstalker chats and whatnot. Having been sucked into, the language used and the vitriol spirit by many has done a greater injustice by driving those of us away from what may have been an interesting discussions.

    After much angst I am compelled to enter this vile commentary on behalf of a friend and colleague.

    It’s appalling and contemptible the commentary being flung to someone such as Jim, let alone any human being. Those commenting in such a demeaning way know Jim about as much as they know the surface of Uranus.

    This ad, placed not by Jim (he’s working right now and rarely checks nor writes emails — let alone pens or places such a basic advert himself), has clearly been extrapolated well beyond anyone’s wildest imagination. Normally such discussions could be beneficial. Unfortunately it has turned into some of the lowest level of human behavior many of us have witnessed in our professional industry, astonishingly directed to someone who has done so much for educating others, dedicating his life towards making monumental change, as well as inspired so many on this forum for nearly three decades.

    What would have been inspiring could have been a discussion (which thankfully now somewhat is happening) directed towards enlightenment of the issues rather than character slinging prose penned by those so inane they sign their names in initials or catchy monikers.

    Equally disturbing is how insults and accusations have flung on this blog towards others in this profession, spiraling as well as to photographers utterly disconnected, written once again by people who know not a droplet of what they were writing nor willing to come out from under the shield of anonymity.

    Let’s not forget the origins of this dialogue: A request for an internship. Moreso, a rare and unique opportunity to learn at one of the highest level possible in photojournalism, something no J school eduction can offer. About three days a week. Calling for the knowledge of certain tools which have become basic instruments within our trade in this digital age (tantamount to sorting slides in file cabinets, organizes negatives, print spotting or basic darkroom knowledge of only 10-20 years ago). Anyone with even the slightest knowledge would know that this wasn’t a job. Moreso, it was an opportunity for a free education which would benefit them far more than Jim. No demands nor requests for a “master photoshop with 20 years experience” were made. And all was presented with one very simple piece of reality clearly overlooked…those uninterested need not apply.

    For those of you who do not realize the tide changing in this discussion, enjoy banging your heads together when you could be using your time and energy for a far greater purpose, which is what those who really inspire and create in this profession actually do.

    • Well said John – but this attitude, prevalent here, comes as no surprise to me.
      As I mentioned in my earlier post, I have been lecturing part-time on degree courses and have been physically and verbally abused on more occasions than I can remember – and I am (was) about the most laid back photographer I can think of.
      The prevailing attitude these days is to get everything for nothing – okay, a degree costs real money, but here in the UK at least, there is a lot of financial support for those from under-privileged backgrounds.
      They all (90%) profess to aspire to work for Vogue etc. but can barely write in their native tongue and have little knowledge of techniques past or present, that many of us (still) research and practice ad-infinitum.

      In summary, my blood boils often and I resent passing my hard earned and self-taught knowledge onto these feckless layabouts (1 in 20 seriously).
      Perhaps this is due to Universities admissions policies – letting in anybody who has ever taken a photo with a phone or compact-cam, some even never having owned a camera of any sort.

      Those who knuckle down and get on with it will reap the rewards, but the squeaky wheels who screech so loudly and vitriolically will run out of oil soon enough and we won’t be able to enjoy the schadenfraude because they are too cowardly to operate under their real names.


    • “No demands nor requests for a “master photoshop with 20 years experience” were made”

      Advanced CS3/CS4 Photoshop, really?

      “(tantamount to sorting slides in file cabinets, organizes negatives, print spotting or basic darkroom knowledge of only 10-20 years ago).”

      Again, advanced photoshop and scanning plus retouching equals sorting slides?

      You my friend, should put down that kool-aid.

    • Well said John!

      I have and always will stand beside, behind or in front of James Nachtwey – regardless!

      It is the example and legacy that James Nachtwey has left behind, that allows people like myself to become, who we are and eventually – who we will become!

      While people here are busy trying to be heard rather than observe – one important point cannot be denied.

      Whoever, Jim’s new intern may be, whether(paid/unpaid/skilled/underskilled), they will walk away with a wealth of life changing, career building knowledge and experience that none of us may ever have the opportunity to gain.

      I am sure the he/she will not share the same concerns as everyone else as to whether he/she is being treated fairly. I truly believe that they will be switched on and motivated enough to do nothing but to learn and absorb every minute of the entire experience!

      I also doubt very much that this person will ever feel sorry for themselves because of the “apparently” unfair arrangement they have gotten themselves into! Not for one minute!…………..

      I think we should all be out shooting rather than shouting – yeh

  99. After taking time to read every comment from the last post, there is a very valid discussion to be had. Unfortunately for some their freedom of speech has taken this a bit off context.

    If you take away the name attached, would you do THIS internship for no pay? That is the question. Most would not, simply for the fact that the posting was more towards a professional with talents to share, rather than a student seeking to learn. Post production is serious business and this is clearly set up for a very qualified applicant. Furthermore, if the only way to succeed in life is by spending
    posting is not a true “internship”. Post production is serious business and this is clearly set up for a very qualified applicant. Furthermore, if the only way to succeed in life is by spending several years learning the craft of good post production, only to give it away then there is a larger problem with our industry.

    The days of working for free have past.

    No photographer with over 30 years of experience would give away his craft, so why is it expected in return?

    In the end you get what pay for. If you buy a crappy lens you will probably get less than stellar images. However, if you invest in a good lens you will not only cherish it, but the results will be amazing.
    The lesson = photographers need to learn to invest in good results.

  100. When I was a college student it was generally assumed that internships (of any industry) were unpaid and for school credit. Any that paid were considered gravy. At least they are being up front about it. If you would rather have minimum wage and not learn from a legend then that’s your choice. What’s the big deal?

    He doesn’t have to teach you anything.

  101. The man is deservedly recognized for his wonderful photographs and his obvious commitment.

    That doesn’t mean he is immune from mistakes. Letting his office attempt to hire skilled post prod technicians for free on the basis of his rep is shabby.

    In fact being a part of VII is probably a mistake. It is an outfit high on self mythologysing and marketing. Just check out their advertising for the Nikon G10. Its nauseating. One of the photographers doesn’t even understand the basics of the camera. How do you translate “Not good over 400 asa” to Russian? Photojournalism is dying on its feet and VII is essentially a carpetbagging outfit. With the exception of Natchwey and Stanmeyer (who are deservedly held in exceptionally high regard) what you have is a collection of perfectly adequate, working professional photographers. Nothing special. The conjuring trick of VII is all in the marketing and the fact that they got Natchwey to hitch his wagon to their Toyota Camry. Samnang l’or bong Gary. It is symptomatic of an industry where opportunists create things that thrive on style and are thin on substance.

    Having said that, Natchywey is repeatedly proven. He may make mistakes in business and marketing, but his pictures speak for themselves and will continue to do after this little thunderstorm is long passed.

    • amazing – canon sponsor vii man, not nikon – this post and all the others are so full of shit they should be archived as an example of what happened when chimps came out of the tress and discovered the internet.

      don’t want to do an internship with someone, don’t do it. don’t like someones work, don’t look at it. don’t think vii are any good – do better yourself. i doubt anyone on here could stand up to anyone of the photographers at vii, noor or magnum who get abused on these pages – but we’ll never know because they are all losers who hide behind anonymity

  102. Just catching wind of this entire conversation.

    As a former Nachtwey intern-turned-studio-manager, I’m shocked at the level of discourse published here. I mean really, people.

    Jim is a person. Treat him with respect. Many of the comments here are absolutely ridiculous.

    If you think interning is terrible, don’t do it.

    If someone has questions about the merit of working for Jim in particular, by all means, do your homework and talk to the people who came before you.

    Erin Siegal

  103. “It is an outfit high on self mythologysing and marketing. Just check out their advertising for the Nikon G10”

    er – its Canon

  104. Well, Jesus. Where to even start?

    It’s depressing to see so many gutless wonders getting their cheap shots in like little high school girls, bitchy and anonymous. Then again, blogging is sort of the digital equivalent of writing on the bathroom wall. I’m just glad this an online debate or you’d probably be pulling hair and clawing at eyeballs.

    Anyway, there are unpaid internships in all kinds of fields in the US, often at companies that make millions if not billions: advertising, publishing, finance, whatever. Any of you anonymous posters ever see the movie Pursuit of Happyness? Will Smith’s character wasn’t getting paid and he was sleeping on the street! So what. You do what you have to if you want to learn.

    The attacks on Jim’s character and work are just ridiculous, so I won’t even bother responding to those comments.

    But a good point to make is that this is a position at his studio, and I am sure the interns will probably learn a lot from whoever is in charge there, even if Jim isn’t around much. The guy works. Shooting stories. And he’s supposed to. He’s a photographer. One of our best.

    Will Baxter

  105. (I was asked to post this by Manuello Paganelli since his computer wasn’t working correctly)

    Right off the bat I totally agree if you are going to throws punches below the belt then do the walk too and write your name.

    That said, folks chill out… Why all of these arrows been tossed to Nachtwey in such an evil way.

    Is your life in such a terrible way that writing a few nasty comments behind a cyber mask will make you feel better or make you a better photographer? Do you also need to be condescending towards his work? The folks who counts are those who pay his bills and usually those are the top magazines. Folks his work is BRILLIANT!!

    So either you take the internship or you dont. Our field has got plenty of bigger issues than free internship.

    My interns dont get pay either and that is clear. At any given day I allow interns to some of my shoots for they want to learn and to give a hand to my first and second assistants (paying jobs).

    In return interns get treated with respect, get free food, plenty of knowledge, get to use any of my strobes, gears, and a biz sense on how to treat the clients/subjects and plenty of learning negotiating skills. Many of these privy and pertinent details they may not learn at an art/photo school. To that you cant put a price tag. But once they go out on their own hopefully some of that knowledge will make them a better photographer, a person and make it easier for them to pay their mortgage.

    Hell, I even have a couple of guys who came from Europe, at their own penny, just to learn a few things from me. There is a person from Israel who is putting some money together so is able to come and intern for me. To the two guys from Europe I told them that it was a long ways to come just for that. Just the same they came.

    Perhaps Natchwey’s ad could have been versed differently with a different tone and aimed at “those willing to learn and work hard..” I am sure that is what his studio manager meant to write. Still not need for all the vicious negativity been posted here.

    When I got into the biz, in the mid 80’s, it wasnt easy but instead of bad mouthing other folks I made it my goal to shoot as good or better than the names on the photo credit line of the magazines. I one point I thought I wanted to be a PJ so I would emulate the work of the iconic David Burnett, who is a dear friend of mine, and that would give me a push. If it wasnt him them I would check out someone else work that would move me and would use that as launching pad. It doesnt matter how you do it as long as you believe in yourself.

    And for me, a person who never took a class in photography or who had any connections with any other folks in the editorial world, watching other photographers’ work and knowing that one day I too could be shooting for top magazines was my motivation.

    In 1987 I got my very first photo gig from Forbes magazine. I clearly remember when they asked me, “How much do you charge for an assistant?” I almost freak out for I didnt know what the hell that word meant. The PE kindly told me what that was and still hired me. The point is that I skipped all of that but make not mistake, assisting top shooters for many is the best and only way to learn.

    Not only do you get pay but you also learn. Interning is another way to honed your knowledge and skills which is usually reserve for college kids or out of college folks. Obviously it doesn’t work for everybody. Heck, you want to become a page boy/girl in DC? Then be willing to do it for free for they dont pay either. At least that was the case when I lived in DC in the 90s.

    I dont shoot for VII and I dont have too. I dont even know them. My only recollection was briefly meeting, I think was him, Christopher Morris while covering the Pope’s arrival at the airport in Havana in 1998. Morris was standing next to me when I yelled at Fidel Castro “Commandante you look great in a suit” which Fidel acknowledge with a wave and a smile.

    Folks, I am very happy with my career and my life is very relaxed. So please use all of this vile energy and transform it into something positive. Anything beyond that will only created unneeded resentment and wasted words. Be creative and be positive.

    Manuello Paganelli
    Los Angeles California

  106. In a world where pro photographers face constant pressure in terms of down pricing, rabbid amateurs, recently cyber and and digitally empowered, happy to be published for a by-line, NGOs and those ritually intoning ‘we don’t have a budget for that’ trying to get pictures for free (its for a good cause!)…… The last thing we need is a senior professional in our own field reinforcing the ‘for free’ mantra in advertising for a highly skilled mac guy to (you got it!)….. Work for free?

    Thanks a bunch Jim.

  107. “i doubt anyone on here could stand up to anyone of the photographers at vii, noor or magnum who get abused on these pages”


  108. Oh god, look at all the strange worms coming out of the woodwork in support of and claiming some long lost affiliation with Nachtwey. This whole thread is starting to read like a circus.

    The indisputable fact remains that Nachtwey procures souvenirs/images in third world countries, then imports his misdirected attitude to the States: ‘what are you complaining about? you think your doing it tough with an unpaid internship in my studio – you should see how hard the people have it where I just came from”. Unfortunately, the difference being that this particular internship asks for professional qualified candidates WITH skills. This position is not calling for some unqualified hack to wash coffee cups. That is why the whole ad stinks. Is he a cheap skate? Let viewers decide.

    Nachtwey’s premise permeates and sullies all arenas of his operation, ask some of his former VII interns for the real ‘scoop’ on his attitude and demeanour in the studio. From someone who has been in the New York art game for a long time, Nachtwey’s most vocal supporters in this thread have provided some real comical entertainment.

    Like I said before, in my younger days I would not have worked for Nachtwey – not because his actions are morally wrong, instead because his images lack magic. Placed next to Salgado, Nachtwey isn’t even in the same room.

    And John Louis Perry – yes ‘dude’ I am calm. But you are a liar. Different to you, I DO have contacts in Magnum and just recently checked on your story – there was NOONE by your name who did an internship there. So, instead of blowing your own horn, why don’t you come clean and tell other people in this thread your real affiliations? My guess is that your connections to Magnum are limited to your onsite ogling of the all the great photographers on their… Hmmm.

    Also, I found your stereotype of the whole of the western audience looking only for immediacy in an image somewhat condescending. This line is often uttered by a European intellectual audience who admonish everything that North American critiques look for in a photograph. Did it ever occur to you in all of your short-sightedness, that perhaps viewers in the States operate on various levels, the lowest common denominator being smooth digitally retouched gossip magazines and moving up from there?

    At Magnum there is whole eclectic choice of styles for viewers to explore – that is wherein the beauty lies. Everthing from street, photo-journalist, documentary, personal documentary, panaromic landscape to fine art. Do all of these genres incorporate impact punchy values? This points to the foolhardy nature of your comments.

    So, my question to you pumpkin: after all of your onsite ogling over at Magnum and following your stereotyped line of thinking, do you think that the members whose style incorporates and ‘focuses’ on (in your words) “punchy, impact stuff”, sell the most prints? OR, is it alternatively the members who let the poetry rise through the image, without the need for shock value who provide the bulk of online print sales? This is a critical question.

    I will let you dwell on that so you can perhaps contact your ‘imaginary’ Magnum mentors to provide you with the answer. The results will run contrary to everthing that you argued…

  109. Wow, cool, Henri. You are really caught up in it all. Checking “employment records” and all. Have you got a job? Astounding. Like the pack rat I am, I bet I still have the yellow pay stubs from that time somewhere, and if you really like, send me an e-mail address and I’ll forward you a file. I was there in 1999, if I’m not mistaken, and worked largely on tearsheet portfolios for David Strettel (unless he never worked there either) among other things. I also contributed, along with other people I know, to the “Here is New York” project (though Magnum had nothing to do with that, my name appears next to Gilles Peress in the index to the published book). Also, I think that the problem is that people are presented with simplistic images, not that that’s all they want. I believe they want more, but they just don’t see enough of them to cultivate a more sophisticated sense for it. Having partly grown up in England and Denmark, I would have to agree that America has a problem in this regard, compared with Europe and some other parts of the world. Don’t get me wrong, you seem a smart guy, but you’re being hot-headed, and if I prove that I am being truthful about what I say, you run a risk of looking uncredible. Kiss of Death to an Intellectual. Google me, it’s easy to get in touch with me. What about you?

  110. Hi All,

    I appreciate everyone’s opinions (although some have been down right rude). I just wanted to say, having been a fan of Jim’s most of my (short) career – I always said if given the opportunity to work with or beside him, I would do it in a heart beat.

    Last summer, I had the amazing opportunity to show my work at the Look3 Festival of the Photograph. The day after my slideshow, a photo editor had introduced me to Jim while I was looking at his pictures hanging in a gallery space. He was genuinely interested in my project and my work. We talked for several minutes before someone grabbed him away to sign his book and take his picture. But for those few minutes he was engaged and interested in my work (a young aspiring photojournalist). I walked away thrilled and excited! Ready to take on a new challenge.

    For all you who wrote such terrible comments, shame on yourself. I am sure you probably are the same people that grab and interrupt him to get pictures and autographs at various events.

    Based on my experience alone – I would take the opportunity, and if I couldn’t afford it – I would find a way. Am I a sell out? Maybe. But I don’t really care what everyone else thinks. I just know I want to be the best I can be – so that I can share stories with everyone. Does money make the world go round. Maybe, I don’t know but college put me in debt as well.

    The world’s greatest photojournalists care about people and humanity – clearly, from reading the comments, many people just care themselves. Your comments are disappointing.

    Jessica A. Woolf

  111. I haven’t seen many comments from student photographers such as myself. This seems odd, because we’re the ones that should be concerned about this subject matter.
    I understand unpaid internships. Newspapers especially can’t afford to pay staffers, let alone interns. This also applies to photographers in general. If JN can pay, I think he probably should, but I haven’t talked to him so I don’t know his stance.
    I worked an internship last summer for two full days a week in a town two hours away. I didn’t have the money for it so I camped in a tent overnight every week. Not paying me was part of the contract I entered into with the paper and it was understood on both ends. They were a small paper and couldn’t afford to pay me. They could, however, teach me. And that’s what I wanted and that’s what I got. I also got a recommendation which just landed me a six month paid internship at another paper. The first internship was needed for the second and I assume the second will be need for a third or a job, whichever comes next.
    I understand wanting to work for JN. Regardless of what he’s like as a person, I find his work to be incredible and have always thought so. I don’t find it explotive, and I think anyone that thinks so needs to dig a bit deeper into who JN is and what his work stands for.
    On that note, I wouldn’t apply to the internship. From what I’ve gathered about the internship from the interview @duckrabbit did and from the info @workingforadouche presented I would only learn a very limited amount of things. It seems to me from the note that the program is looking for a skilled worker in very specific areas, not an intern who needs improvement in those areas, but that might just be there wording of the call for applications.
    As long as they are up front about wanting an unpaid, skilled worker, I’m cool with it. The term “intern”seems to carry the connotation that I will emerge from the program with more knowledge than I came in with and hopefully a good recommendation.
    I think if JN can pay, he should, but he doesn’t have to. If I want to work for him (and am willing to work for him for free), that is between me and him. Hopefully I would come out ahead. For me personally, I don’t want to learn about running a studio, dealing with clients, etc. I could learn that in a much less stressful environment. Assuming I am as qualified as JN wants me to be, I think I could also get paid for that. I want to learn about shooting. And thus the internship is not for me. More power to whoever lands it. It is a golden opportunity if you are up to the task.

  112. I’ve seen this ad before and have always thought whomever was selected for this internship would be quite lucky. Anyone who really knows Jim will concur. He’s a gem and his work has inspired me to become a kinder person, and I’ve often wondered how many people around the world have been affected in a positive way by his images. Having been in a war zone, I know first-hand how difficult it is to make good pictures while seeing such destruction of and by mankind. But that’s war — which I was witnessing, not creating. But so many of you — why be so destructive and petty online about what many would consider an opportunity? While I have not worked directly with Jim, I’ve known him for quite some time and recently participated in a Master workshop with Jim and David Alan Harvey. It was the hardest yet most amazing week of my year — priceless experience. The skills in the advertised internship are pretty basic in exchange for being part of a top notch team while learning how people work at the top of their photojournalism game. Interacting in this kind of successful workflow is invaluable. In 3 months you will know whether pj is for you and you for it. No student loans to pay back, no exams… I had been pre-med in university and during my last semester I wheeled patients to surgery in an unpaid internship. That hospital internship enlightened me to know the reality of medicine was not for me. And when a film internship landed in my lap, I changed my life path. You get what you give. And what goes around comes around. For all who have chosen to throw such negative energy at a man who has dedicated his energy to fight against XDR TB, Aids, Poverty, Victims of War — maybe try to use your energy for the greater good and go out there and get in the game instead of bad blogging. Life is short. Make it meaningful and positive. Make good pictures.
    Linda O.

  113. I guess I’m a little bit late to the party but I too am pretty shocked at the level of personal and derogatory commentary here.

    I interned in Jim’s studio in 2007. I was very fortunate in that I had a very willing friend who let me occupy her couch for the summer without fee, but I’m no means some rich kid or anything close to that to be honest. I made it through the summer for like $1,000 that I’d saved up from a previous newspaper internship, and if I were in worse straits I know I could have pounded the streets for a part time job, but I took the rest of the time to shoot pictures and catch up with people.

    If you are considering it and want to know more without being publicly lambasted please get in touch with me as I’d be happy to give an honest assessment of my experience to anyone personally curious.

    Bottom line is, if I could re make the decision I made to take that internship, I would do it again. No one is saying you must apply, most things I did were things an unskilled person could do, I got hours to myself to look through his old contact sheets and work prints, and that alone was enough to justify it. No, I never met him, he was abroad the whole time. Do I think that would have helped if I did, honestly? No, at least not enough to change my opinion of the overall experience. He’s a busy man with life and work to worry about. Don’t go in there expecting to meet him, have him take you under his wing and push you to editors. That’s not what this is. If you don’t like it, don’t apply, but from someone who went through it, believe me, though it’s not a perfect experience, you will take more than you give, and you will learn. Maybe you will learn things you didn’t expect to, but you will come out of it having grown in some way.

    I sometimes wonder if all this energy were just directed towards improving things or just making pictures, how things might be.

  114. I don’t think this conversation is just about the internship they’re a lot of issues surrounding Nitwich and his “photo cabal.”

    The founding members of the agency XI (Eleven) are branding themselves into the credits of Marcus Bleasdale, Joachim Ladefoged, Franco Pagetti, Stephanie Sinclair, Eric Bouvet, Donald Weber, Seamus Murphy, Lynsey Addario, Jessica Dimmock, Tlvadar Domaniczky, Zlyah Gafic, Balazs Gardi, Ashley Gilbertson, Jocelyn Bain Hogg, and Benjamin Lowy. Every time they have something published there’s a little bit of Nitwich, Krackvil, in their byline etc. This is disrespectful. You must insecure. You have a created a two tier system within the agency. David Burnett founded Contact. Is he branding himself into the other photographer’s bylines? No, he’s not because he has some class and common sense.

    The new people in XI (Eleven) are being discriminated against. You make them look weak or not as talented as you. Many of these photographers are more talented than the founders. They don’t like being #8, #9, #10, #11, etc. You’re dissing them. This is why people don’t like you anymore. You’re arrogant.

  115. Wow, not that I don’t agree/disagree with some of the above and in fact totally agree with Christopher Morris and I am proud to let you know that I am John Patrick Naughton. I first read this post on Lightstalkers, and thought to myself, “… well that’s just crazy”. It is as crazy as it is self serving and decadent, qualities that don’t become any man or woman.
    A while back, a freelance assistant that I often hired took on one of these free-by jobs for Mary Ellen Mark, when I asked him what he was doing or learning from her he said: “… we paint the studio and move file cabinets, then paint again”. It’s not only not fair, it is against my own moral code.
    I have known many great photographers, however they did not have this decadent quality, at the same time one must also question the young photographer and why are you doing this, what do you hope to learn from painting walls white or scanning images. You already know how to do this, what is the gain. The vanity of this is on both sides, however James will be remembered the most. John Patrick Naughton

  116. I am Bip Mistry a photographer based in Brighton, England. The term ‘intern’ is not commonly used in the UK by photographers.
    I have a guy assisting me ad hoc at the moment. He joins in to gain experience. He says he learns a lot. I pay him when we do a commercial job together.
    He comes along to help and learn when I am doing test shoots.
    I can’t pay him a regular fee. If I could he would have to be doing a lot of filing, scanning, and editing as well as helping on shoots.

    I have heard of occasions when assistants have told me that on approaching photographers, the photographers have suggested the assistant pay them because they’re going to be learning commercial skills.

    Dog eat dog!

  117. I think a lot (if not most of you) completely missed the point.

    He’s actually looking for a free retoucher under the guise of an intern.

    Advanced Photoshop CS3/CS4 (Advanced?!!)
    Must be proficient working in adjustment layers and layer masks.
    Proficiency with a Wacom tablet.
    An understanding of film scanning preferably on Imacon scanners.
    Experience with Adobe Light Room and Apple Aperture a plus.

    Really? What kind of intern are we talking about here?

    Coming from someone that has made SUCH a big deal about social injustice and inequality and yet is comfortable in perpetuating it is really low.

    If anything JN has only completely undercut any credibility that he might of gained over the years.

  118. Yes, a lot of people are missing the point…..these types of “internships” violate some of the few labor laws we have in this country.
    It is purely asking for uncompensated labor. You know slavery, but with a hope for personal advancement. Forty acres and a canon.

    The thing that is upsetting as hell is that this is not specific to James, it has become of late a new standard in a readjusting industry.

    U.S. Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Field Operations Manual establishes six criteria for distinguishing interns from employees:

    1. Interns may be trained using equipment and procedures specific to the employer, but internship experiences must be akin to experiences that they would be able to gain in a vocational school.
    2. Regular employees cannot be displaced by interns, who should be closely supervised.
    3. Interns are not guaranteed jobs at the completion of their internship.
    4. Both employer and intern need to understand that training time does not entitle interns to wages.
    5. Training should be primarily for the benefit of the intern.
    6. Companies providing training to interns must derive no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern…. Although an internship program will benefit your business over the long term by providing a pool of trained applicants with familiar work habits, it’s not meant to be a source of free labor.

    • “Training should be primarily for the benefit of the intern”

      I think this is really what the whole point of the outrage is.

      Very well said.

  119. By the by this isn’t outrageous because it is Jim, it is outrageous because of the nature of the ad, skills required etc. Bruce is right…..No defending it, past any personal attacks on JN’s character.

  120. Unpaid internships are exploitive. They favor people with financial means. What about all the talented individuals who cannot afford to work w/o being compensated.
    If you do not have a budget to pay interns how about offering free lunch, or a gas card, train pass.

  121. I said I would bow out of this but one last thing!
    As far as the wording and level of expertise goes. When I had my first (unpaid) internship, I was printing fine art black/white prints for the photographer, spotting, filing, lugging gear, and so forth. had I not had the printing expertise, I would not have gotten the job. What I gained was a working knowledge of the business (seems many interns today have no idea how to submit an invoice, among other things that for some reason they are not picking up at school). I also find that internships (short-term ones) can lead to paying work with the photographer…


  122. Bruce Weber hits the nail squarely on the head. How reassuring to read that there is one sane voice in all of this. Almost everyone else is missing the point. READ THE AD and decide yourself. It’s like the blind leading the blind.

  123. Hahaha… All this thread just shows how much the photojournalism world is **** up…

    Seriously, guys, I have to say that I am amazed and scared by how all the VII photographers support the same position. Is not anyone in VII who have a different opinion? That’s really weird!

    Also, it’s not a choice between either “I pay the interns and I don’t care about their career or I don’t pay them and help them to be succesful photographers”, like Ron Haviv says. I am sorry, Ron, but that says very little good things about you. First, I don’t like the term “succesful”, but leaving this apart, I would think: “why not paying them and help them at the same time”? We are not talking about giving them 5000 dollars a month but a small amount to dignify and show respect for their work.

    Then, because many of you “succesful photographers” started with no paid interships it doesn’t mean that this cannot change. I bet you would had preferred to have being paid in your internships, so please, don’t be hypocrites.

    I can’t believe as well how you, “succesful photographers”, are trying “to sell us the motorcycle”. Basically, according you, all those talented young photographers wouldn’t do anything without your help. Some of them, as you know, were already well known and I am sure they would have achieved great things in photojournalism without your help. What I am concerned about is the possibility that these young guys end up thinking the same way as you do. I hope some of them in the future will think different and will pay their interns and help them in their careers as well…

    @Bruce Weber
    You are 100% right. Obviously, looking at his requeriments, JN is looking for a retoucher for free.

    Last but not least, all the VII photographers who wrote in this post are right in one thing: there is no need to insult a person as many of you did about JN. I am not such a big fun of his work and didn’t like what he showed of himself in “war photographer” but I don’t know him personally and even if I did, I think is not nice to bitch about anyone like many of you have done.

    Anyway, happy new year to everyone and hope 2010 will be the year of the “paid internships”, thanks to debates like this one.

  124. Btw, forgot something: What will be the next step? Charging a few thousands of USD for doing an intership with such a “succesful photographers”? That’s why I think the “unpaid internship” is a dangerous path…


  125. Having recently just completed an unpaid internship at VII, I must weigh in. Like most other interns, I solicited the agency for a slot within their organization. I entered into the agreement knowing full-well that it was unpaid and found other sources of revenue to get me by while in New York. The decision was mine and mine alone. Many of these posts/responses make internships seem like indentured servitude periods; they are not!
    While VII received work from me, I received and was able to acquire skills that I did not have prior to the internship. Usually one must pay for these skills at an academic institution or muddle through figuring out for themselves. Through my internship, I was taught for FREE. There is a quid-pro-quo and what I saw as an equitable bargain!!
    Furthermore, the internship marked a turning point in my career as a photographer and has allowed me to move forward. The advice that I still get from the photographers at VII (even after the conclusion of my internship) continues to propel my career in a positive direction. So, please, stop with the hatred and let free people make free choices and receive educations from the industry’s best.

  126. Last year I was lucky to have jim agree to work with me for 15 weeks as my mentor. I had to pay my school for it in order to get the credits to graduate from my master program. That aside, this was an amazing experience. If you have never heard the man talk about photography and his process, you are missing something. To experience him critiquing my work personally—helping me develop my style in a one-on-one environment is worth its weight in gold. What I learned from Jim in 15 weeks could have easily replaced half my grad school education.
    In response to some of the snide comments about what he does and how he does it, you’re entitled to your opinion, but the good things he has accomplished for people in need through his images are amazing.
    Finally, internships are a time-honored & and in some cases coveted institution in our field. They give students a great opportunity to work with people they look up to. Even if it is only as a gopher for the photographer, the opportunity to even ask the photographer a question, gaining from their knowledge is priceless.

  127. I think the internship posting aroused ire because its tone is high-handed, not because critics don’t appreciate mentoring and training as implied by some respondents. The sentence, “Please, qualified applicants only!,” means the internship offers no training. The fact that some interns don’t even meet Nachtwey (as stated by Peter Hoffman) means the internship offers no mentoring. To me, critics are rightly riled by JN Studio’s poor business etiquette. Successful business people make sure that all parties benefit from a business deal. I think the problem has an easy fix. The new posting should add a sentence mentioning the benefits: “In exchange for your high-level skills and hard work, you will receive job referrals, a recommendation letter and for the duration of the internship a free stay in Nachtwey’s apartment (great idea, MaryAnne Golon).
    –Elizabeth Nakahara

  128. I admire Nachtway’s work till this day and i also admire him as a person for all the causes he was involved but it’s very disappointing to see that he takes for granted young photographers like me and don’t recognize them for their hard work. It’s a really shame!

  129. I did an unpaid internship my last semester of College. It was with a well known national studio, I learned more there in 4 months than I ever did in school. After my internship, I was hired by the studio as a 2nd assistant, then moved to 1st asst and then to studio manager, then to 2nd photographer. Within a few years I opened my own studio and and was shooting national ads.

    None of this would have been possible without being given the opportunity to do an internship with great photographers. Not to mention the contacts you make with industry people. Stylists, talent, clients, vendors… and so on.

    The studio that I interned for did not need me in anyway, in fact I was a hindrance to them until I learned enough not to screw stuff up. This was back in the old days of shooting film. I worked on shoots that had budgets that exceeded $75,000, no they did not need a free intern. It was a way to give back to the school and the photo program.

    I have been working as a photog since I got out of school in “93” and if the right guy called I would work for free just to be around them.

    It is funny, nobody bags on schools for charging crazy amounts for tuition, yet are upset because in-experienced photographers are not being compensated by $$$ for learning from a master for free. Clueless.

  130. U.S. Labor Department Releases New Rules for ‘Educational’ Internships

    Take away? As written, Mr. Natchwey’s ‘internship’ is most likely in violation of #1, 3, 4, and maybe #2.

    Here’s a blurb:
    1) “the internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment.”

    Interpretations have differed over the wording in federal labor regulations of that requirement, which says “vocational school” instead of the new “educational environment.” Many employers have insisted that students receiving academic credit for unpaid internships, in part to try to show compliance with legal standards. And colleges have developed a range of approaches to the credit question, offering internship-based courses, independent studies, or no-credit transcript notations to satisfy employers without altering academic philosophies or making students pay tuition to work free.

    The Labor Department’s statement further clarifies the “educational environment” test by noting, “the more an internship program is structured around a classroom or academic experience as opposed to the employer’s actual operations, the more likely the internship will be viewed as an extension of the individual’s educational experience.”

    “This often occurs,” the statement says, “where a college or university exercises oversight over the internship program and provides educational credit.”

    Other conditions must also be met for unpaid internships at for-profit companies to be legal, the Labor Department says:

    2) The internship is for the benefit of the intern.
    3) The intern works under close staff supervision and does not displace regular employees.
    4) The employer derives no immediate advantage from and may in fact be impeded by the intern.
    5) The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job after the internship.
    6) The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wage.

  131. A chosen intern with advanced Photoshop and printing skills, even for JamesNachtwey Studio, should receive at least the state’s minum wage for for the assigned hours instudio.
    Unless the studio is a non-profit organization producing photos for non-profit publications, even beginning interns should not be unpaid.
    A beginning intern to be chosen for such a prestigious name studio, would probably be highly skilled, personable, hardworking, a social activist, dedicated. She/he should receive at least the minimum wage, as any other part-time temporary employee would receive at a legitimate organization.

  132. Is this really so awful? Take the whole business of academic photography. In the UK, for example, there are a wide range of MA courses in photography that will cost you 3K GBP per annum in fees, plus your living expenses. Masters degrees in the UK are a profit-making part of a university department. By doing the Masters you are helping sustain the photographers on the staff who provide your tuition.

    Frankly, I wouldn’t see a problem with Natchwey charging fees for an internship with him given the sort of boost in profile that the candidate would likely enjoy.

    I can see that having worked for him would give a leg up to an aspiring photographer, in an industry with far too many people chasing the same opportunities.

  133. Being an intern for J.Nachtwey’s studio is a very valuable learning and career opportunity, but, he isn’t looking for high school co-op students, and his studio isn’t not-for-profit. Are interns at commercial media companies (ex. TV networks) unpaid? Is minimum wage for forty hours per week, too much for his studio to afford? — considering the time he can save with an intern doing a bulk of the tedious tasks. He’s seeking the most skilled and best applicants; he’s not running a public education program at some not-for-profit gallery or public library.

  134. I’d gladly pay thousands to be an intern for the right experience and education. To be honest I don’t know why other long term professionals aren’t enterprising the idea further. Particularly those coming into retirement, it’s a win win.

  135. if the internship is not for you because you get that problem? and follow not the point. And do not waste time debating it line by line. On the other hand, have the opportunity to work with JN does not happen every day, so there’s your payment … or you can go to your ICP and pay the 36mil a year and if you want you keep complaining.

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