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Alice Keith

Working in Fashion

Alice's Top 5 Tips

August 12, 2011 by Alice Keith, of The Advocates

Tip #4. Don't Let Your Weakness Be Your "Thing"

Although you may need to differentiate yourself to get hired (see #3), when it comes to actually doing the job, you'll be expected to be a well-rounded professional, prepared to handle a variety of demands that may come up.

Even if your weakness ultimately informs your strengths (i.e. "I suck at accessorizing, so I'll make clean androgyny style my thing"), don't be a moron about it and not work on your weaknesses anyway. I would especially direct that towards the self-taught school like myself who can miss important basics. You don't want to end up in a position where you're asked to do something that someone of your experience level should know how to do, and you choke.

An Embarrassing Story About Me For Your Amusement: I love natural light photography and got into the field thinking that rather than try to compete with the masters at studio photography, I'd just make natural light photography my "thing." I did practice with strobe studio lights here and there and could get by, sort of. However in my limited studio experience, one thing I hadn't happened to do is rig a seamless paper background (I always shot against a white wall in a loft I used to live in, or used set-up spaces).

As it goes, a few years ago, my biggest break yet in photography came in the form of a last minute referral to replace a photographer for a magazine editorial. It was to be shot in studio with two models, and the job would require me to provide a large, seamless paper backdrop. Setting up the backdrop seemed so straightforward to me that it didn't even rate as a concern for the shoot. Put the paper roll on stand, hoist it up, done.

While on set, I began hoisting up the bar that the paper roll sits on. To my horror and confusion, a "runaway toilet paper" effect started to occur the paper would not stop unrolling, building up a lot of momentum, until nearly all the paper was on the floor.

After stepping away from the clients for some frantic phone dialing, I found out (from the first photographer friend that I could get a hold of) that these seamless paper rolls need to be clipped (see below) at the desired stopping point. I didn't have any clips, though I did figure something out. Had I done some in studio photography assisting to buff up my studio skills (as I had always been meaning to do), this never would have happened.




Tip #5. It's Not Quite As Hard As Becoming A Rock Star (Or Is It?)

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