When I finished university, I was excited to try and get a creative internship or work as an assistant – it’s a really great way to see how real companies work, to learn from creatives who have advanced a lot in their field. I was lucky to find an internship that sounded cool quite quickly, after a couple of weeks of looking – and the best part, is that it was paid! I really needed a job at that point.
My internship was a photography/retouching/creative brand director assistant spot at two a nail and make up brands (they are sister brands and operate from the same office). The first brand is well known for their nail products and polishes, but at the time I worked there, they were about to release their make up line and so needed a lot more pictures – I was there to take some in house pictures for their social media and blog and to help out with all the retouching and image filing that was piling on for the upcoming releases.
The first week I felt like I was the luckiest – it all felt incredible and just the place for me. My first two days were accompanying the creative brand director to photo shoots – first a product, still life photo shoot, next – a campaign shoot with a model. I took some behind the scenes pictures, tried to arrange some of the new products for some pictures that could possibly go to
their instagram/other social media channels, helped out with prop/background holding. I wasn’t the one shooting the main pictures, but it felt great being there, seeing how they came up with styling, make up and mood for the campaign and how they were shooting it.
My usual day would mostly be around 9 hours of retouching of their product shots. Sometimes of things that I’ve shot myself for their social media, which I would do once or twice a week. I would spend a lot of time color matching the swatches/product imagery and I’d feel a bit blind after that, it gets hard to tell colors after hours of doing it. But I loved retouching, so if I can retouch all day and get paid for it, that sounds like a great deal to me!
Things that I learned:
- When shooting images for a company’s social media, blogs, website, to keep as collateral imagery – you always have to think if it’s on brand, that’s one of the most important things. You need to think about every setting – does it scream the brand’s name? Is it the ideal style, background, colors you could use? It’s okay to experiment, but if the answer to these questions is not a confident yes, it’s very likely that the images won’t be used, so you’re just wasting your time and in turn – the company’s money. I think I only really learned this at the very end of my internship, but to be fair, I felt like the main brand wasn’t as well defined at that time, and I was never totally sure which colors/textures/backgrounds is definitely fitting. As an intern, I was
never part of any meetings that would have helped me more with that, but I would definitely advise my past self now to have more in depth talks with the other creatives there about why something fits the brand well and why something isn’t working.
- I haven’t done such in depth product/nails/make up retouching before, and since I had to retouch a lot of that during the internship, I learned techniques I never knew about before or at least didn’t think of using because I didn’t find them very useful.
- Everyone from different departments were sitting nearby, so I’d hear a lot about what was going on in the company and I’d see how different parts of it work, which was really interesting as I didn’t really have a clue before. I saw how they choose shades, how they name them, we all participated in trying the new products/ nail polishes and would give feedback about it (so yes, sometimes I was just doing my nails at/for work…)
- When I started working there, we bought a few studio lights to have a small in house studio. I never worked much in a studio, except when I studied in the university, so during my internship I could experiment a lot and see what works best, I also worked a lot more with products and still life/flat lays, which I don’t really do normally.
- How to prepare, organize images and upload them to FTP servers. It might sound boring, but I didn’t mind it much and it’s useful to know.
- When I started, I didn’t know anything about make up or nails (I always only had the most basic beauty products and would only buy new ones once something ran out), but after dealing with make up each day, I became a lot more interested in it – I started to watch some youtube videos and started to care for my skin more, I use a bit more products now (though it’s still very basic).
Extra things that were awesome:
- The office was really cute and colourful, I was greeted through a big arch of flowery hedge (hedges were around the room everywhere). They had a London red phone box inside, their lunch area was a park – not a real one, but the fake grass, the wooden benches and tables made it feel like that.
- Almost everyone in the office was a girl around my age and they were the sort of people who would gather around to celebrate a dog’s birthday (meaning, there were some great people there).
- Each Friday we would have snacks and drinks at the end of the day, sometimes we would also go out and that was fun too.
- Free samples! I’m still using their lip products and nail polishes.
Things that weren’t that great:
- Sometimes I needed to re-do things multiple times until it was approved – an obvious annoying thing when you’re working for someone else, but I wasn’t used to it yet.
- My perfectionism is not that great when I’m working not just for myself. I would take longer than I needed working on something to make it perfect, when in any company it’s all about delivering results quickly. And I usually still wouldn’t like it in the end, which is probably because I still didn’t consider what I was working on there my area.
But I wouldn’t end on a negative note – it was great six months!
One of my favorite days was when the second brand was doing a takeover of Superdrug’s instagram, so I took a lot of images for that with the team:
And some behind the scenes images from campaign shoots:
Temporary tattoos shoot
Chalk Collection campaign behind the scenes:
One of the final shots: (I edited the colors on these)
Southbeach Socialite collection campaign shoot behind the scenes:
One of the final shots:
If you made it to the end of seriously the longest blog post that I’ve ever written, I can’t believe it – thank you! And if you have any questions, ask me below (or if you’d just like to let me know you found this interesting at all, that would be great to hear, as I don’t normally share things like that).1