August 13, 2015
As an anthropology major, Maxwell Heider '15 of Lancaster, thought he'd pursue some kind of career in museum studies. That is, until a few photography courses with Susquehanna professor Gordon Wenzel during his senior year reignited his creative side.
"Professor Wenzel sparked the creative drive in me again," Heider said.
When Heider came across an internship opportunity on Craigslist with world renowned photographer Steve McCurry, he thought it was too good to be true.
"I was actually searching on Craigslist for random photography gigs, and the internship was listed in that category," Heider said. "I thought, 'This isn't real. There's no way,'" he said. "The fact that I even landed an interview made me ecstatic."
But it was real. And Heider not only landed an interview, he landed the internship and now a part-time job, with McCurry, a photographer best known for his photograph "Afghan Girl," which originally appeared on the cover of National Geographic magazine in 1984.
Heider began his internship on July 14, and was quickly hired on a part-time basis to handle basic editing of McCurry's photographs before sending them off to his headquarters in New York City. He also reads and archives McCurry's journal entries during his overseas work in anticipation for book publication.
"I'm looking through hundreds of his photos a day, photos no one's ever seen before. It's amazing," Heider said. "I'll come home at the end of the day and feel like I'm in culture shock. It feels like I've been to the other side of the world."
Heider also credits his advisor John Bodinger de Uriarte, associate professor of anthropology, for guiding him to his current job.
"Dr. Bodinger's Visual Anthropology course allowed me to examine ethnographic film and photographs from production to post-production and look at how different cultures are represented," Heider said.
For Heider, his job with McCurry is the perfect blend of anthropology and photography. While a student, he interned at the North Museum of Natural History in Lancaster where he archived Native American artifacts. In browsing through McCurry's photographs, Heider says his anthropology education gives him an understanding of the different cultures he is viewing.
In his short time on the job, Heider said he is already learning.
"I recently listened to an interview with him and he explained that when he sees something that catches his eye, or someone with a story written all over their face, he's not shy in approaching someone," Heider said. "That's something I can carry over into my own work."