Internship advice for a commercial/fashion agency


TPF Noob!
Nov 20, 2007
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Coney Island in Brooklyn, US
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Happy to announce that I landed an internship with a commercial/fashion/advertising studio in Chelsea! I am hoping that this will provide me with a good chance to learn the very basics of the commercial business while I look into an education.

I fully expect to be doing the very boring work for a good while (painting, cleaning, copies, etc) so I don't have any unreasonable ideas of being able to assist with the photo shoots or anything. But, I still want to pay my dues and at the same time get as much out of it as I can.

If you've entered this field through an internship, can you offer me any advice/stories/etc. about your experiences? I start thursday and want to show them that I intend to work hard and fully take advantage of this opportunity. I've worked with interns in other jobs before and know how they can often feel neglected and then slack off, not impressing anyone, and that's not me. I'll be respectful of course, meaning I won't waste people's time asking a ton of questions while they are busy, but I don't want to miss any chances to learn as much as possible either.

...can you offer me any advice...


I've not worked as an intern or had anyone intern with me. I have, however, had some entry level assistants over the years, and the one thing I do expect without fail is that person should always be ready... engaged in what I'm doing at all times. I'm especially annoyed if I have to go looking for him/her.

I was always impressed when someone could anticipate my wants.

Good luck!

Thanks Pete, it's great advice, luckily I've learned those lessons through bartending gigs where simply doing what needs to get done is viewed as going "above and beyond"'s always surprising to me when people ignore these simple, but respectful and necessary ethics. How do people like that expect to keep jobs?! Another positive is the fact that I don't smoke and never disappear on those 15 minute smoke breaks!
I think the secret is to sustain enthusiasm over the time period of the internship, if you feel neglected taken advantage of, never ever show it. Enthusiasm all the way.

If you can anticipate needs you will do extremely well, remember details, if you have to get coffee for key people, remember how they take it, so you don't have to keep asking things.

Congrats on the internship, I hope it's all you want it to be.
Just thought I'd update:

Going good! I am with Kenneth Willardt (, working directly with his first assistant, Todd Williams ( The studio has been undergoing major renovations, and I have had the chance to go through all of the equipment and supplies and reorganize them, as well as get a very clear idea of the kind of inventory this type of business uses. Plus, now I can find anything for anyone, and that always makes people happy.

The various shoots have been good learning experiences, of course, but one thing that really helps is being able to do the shoot notes. Drawing diagrams of lighting layouts is a big help in understanding the styles that works great for fashion and glamor. I have also found a book that has helped me to learn more about lighting, by using their own diagrams of layouts. It's "Photographing People - Portraits, fashion, glamor" published by Rotovision.

Another thing that really helped me was Youtube, I looked up studio photography and wasn't surprised when I found a whole series of videos that introduced me to just about everything I now work with, and helped explained how to use it.

As for being on set, I think having worked in the restaurant business has given me the proper attitude for dealing with the various people around. It also seems like Todd was almost surprised that I knew how to act. Basically I didn't expect or attempt to have a conversation with anyone except my boss, I tried to make sure the environment was clean and accommodating, I stayed out of the way when everything was fine. When the shoot was over, I was quick to focus and help clear the set with minimal interruption to ask "where does this go?".

In return, I have been able to learn firsthand what goes into high-end fashion shoots for clients including Cosmo, Maybelline, A Magazine, In Touch, etc...I am watching how Kenneth works while at the same time getting a great understanding of what goes on in the background, I get to help test the lighting and become familiarized with Hassleblad cameras and lenses, etc conclusion it's been a great experience so far and one I would definitely recommend to any beginner.

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