In Department of Design, Experiential Learning

Design student Megan Matheson works on a 70’s-themed photoshoot as part of an internship with Nicolle Clemetson. Photo courtesy of Megan Matheson.

Design student Megan Matheson had the skills and just needed to put them into practice. Through her summer internship with a noted female photographer, Matheson got first-hand experience discovering how to thrive in the commercial photo industry.

Matheson has spent the summer interning in Portland with award-winning photographer Nicolle Clemetson. Clemetson has worked with high-profile clients like Nike, Teavana and Adidas.

Matheson said the skills and insight she has gained from working with Clemeston have been invaluable. It has been a chance to put what she learned in the classroom into practice.

“Doing an internship is a real-life application of what you learn. It shows you all the options that are available to you,” said Matheson. “When you’re just doing classroom work you don’t get the same breadth of experience.”

One of the things Matheson is most grateful to have learned is the business side of commercial photography and what it is like to work with clients.

“I feel more confident working with clients,” said Matheson. “When you’re starting out as a photographer you have no idea how much to charge for things and you end up undercharging. Now I know how to price my work.”

Matheson is also grateful for the female mentorship she has received this summer. Even though she feels supported and respected by the nearly all-male photography faculty at BYU, it was nice to have a female point of view.

“I never felt like being a female at BYU was ever a bad thing. I definitely felt like our professors there are kind and considerate,” said Matheson. “But it’s been interesting to learn from Nicolle here in Portland.”

Matheson said she sought out an internship that would give her the opportunity to work with a woman in the industry.

“I definitely think everyone has valuable information to share, but I knew that working with a woman would give me a perspective that working with a male would not,” said Matheson.

Matheson said that in a male-dominated industry, Clemeston’s mentorship has been priceless. She hopes to learn from the sexism that Clemetson has experienced so she can be prepared to be a professional in the industry.

“Nicolle has given me a new perspective on how to be a woman in the industry – how to work harder and smarter and how to run my own business,” said Matheson.

According to Matheson, Clemetson has worked hard to make her feel like they are on the same level and that there are “no stupid questions.”

“Commercial photography is a really competitive field. A lot of older, more experienced photographers are often not as obliging or willing to sit down and tell you their tips or tricks,” said Matheson, adding that this has not been the case with Clemetson. “It’s been beyond cool to work with a woman in the industry.”

Matheson’s favorite part of her internship was 70’s-themed photoshoot. This photo is one of many Matheson will add to her portfolio. (Megan Matheson)

Throughout the summer, Matheson said she has had numerous chances to expand her portfolio. She has worked with Clemetson on test photoshoots, where they can simply try out an idea instead of completing work for a client.

Matheson said her favorite shoot was a ‘70’s-themed fashion photoshoot. Matheson said Clemetson turned over most of the logistics to her. Everything from contacting a modeling agency and a makeup artist to coming up with a color scheme and purchasing clothes for the shoot fell onto Matheson’s shoulders.

Matheson hopes experiences like these have prepared her to work in the commercial photography industry after she graduates in August.

“I’m hoping that I can work hard and make good work, so there are no biases with any of my future clients,” said Matheson.

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