Student learns from nationally recognized photographer

A University of Arkansas at Little Rock art major from Bryant has spent her spring semester viewing life through a lens – and is loving every minute of it.

Mandy Schrader, UALR studentMandy Schrader, a senior minoring in studio photography, is an intern for Dero Sanford, a Little Rock-based photographer with a growing list of high-profile clients across the state and nation.

Schrader recently returned from an all-expenses paid trip to New Orleans where she worked with Sanford and his crew doing photo shoots for a multinational food services management company.

Schrader helped with the lighting equipment, setting up the camera, switching out the lenses and even stepping in as a model on all three of the shoots.

“Dero did an awesome job at teaching me throughout the shoots,” she said. “He would stop in the middle of photographing and show me what he was trying to capture and how to bounce the lights to get the perfect shot.”

Schrader said she was pleased with the opportunity to have a “true work experience,” where she not only participated in the photo shoots, but also experienced the business side, as well.

In addition, she had the chance to network with representatives from several ad agencies.

Schrader was even made the producer of the final stage of the shoot when she returned to Little Rock, so she decided to use the UALR campus and its resources, gaining access to the fitness center, library, and cafe.

“I also had to make a table layout of each shot we needed,” she said. “Dero told me this on Wednesday and we shot the very next day, so I had a limited time to get everything together.”

Schrader received some help from students on campus who agreed to be “models” for the shoot.

“It was awesome seeing it all come together,” Schrader said.

Sanford took Schrader under his wing after she e-mailed him about the possibility of doing an internship to learn more about the creative and business aspects of photography.

Schrader said she first heard of Sanford through a friend and fellow UALR student, Robin Widmer, who highly recommended him as a photographer and teacher.

“She told me to look at his website,, and so I checked it out and knew that I wanted to get in touch with him,” said Schrader.

Schrader also had a conversation with UALR Interim Chair and Professor of Art Tom Clifton about the internship.

“As soon as I mentioned Dero’s name, he got so excited because he knew of him and his work,” said Schrader.

After that, Schrader said, “It felt like everything just started falling into place.” For the internship, she will receive college credit. The UALR Art Department is subsidizing the course in lieu of Schrader receiving payment from Sanford for services rendered.

“I don’t get paid for the internship but having the course paid for is just as great,” said Schrader.

The internship concludes May 9.

Schrader said she plans to expand her budding photography career following graduation from UALR this May and has been building a client list for the past year.

And, just a few weeks ago, she started building her photography studio with help from her family. Schrader said she envisions eventually earning her master’s degree and teaching photography.

“This campus is full of amazing hardworking professors and, as a student, you need to just get involved. They will help you accomplish your goals,” she said.

Read more about her internship at Schrader’s blog.

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