Meet The Pros!

One of the best things, besides awesome professors, about being in the advertising major at Citytech is the Meet The Pros series. I’ve made an effort to go to as many as I can. Some of the most memorable ones were when Tony DiSpigna and Gail Anderson came. They are very famous in the industry and it was great to see them come to our school! It’s hard to miss the Meet The Pros because the awareness posters are literally on every wall in the school. Last week before walking in to a class, I noticed the poster and decided to go since 1) The speaker was a photographer 2) It fit into my schedule 3) Saw your blogpost on openlab.


The speaker was Christine Blackburne. I wasn’t familiar with her so I quickly checked her portfolio site out and I was very impressed! She is mainly a still life photographer who does shoots for a lot of famous magazines like Elle, Essence, Health, PopPhoto and many more. Her work is very clean, crisp, colorful and obviously creative.


The talk started around 6:40pm. She spoke for about 25-30 minutes and then there were Q&A for 30 mins. She was very well spoken and we could hear her clearly. She started off by giving a brief background, stating that she graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology, 10 years ago. After that, she started giving advise to students who are graduating soon and what they should do in order to succeed. She mentioned that you should always be in touch with your professors, even after you graduate. “Professors have a wealth of information.” Other than professors, you should also connect with all your classmates, because they are the ones you will hire or get hired by after you graduate.

Book Cover

Book Cover

She did a lot of assistant work after she graduated. This is where she gained a lot of experience and that gave her the confidence to start her own business. She said, in order to succeed as an assistant, you have to be one step ahead of the photographer. You should know what the photographer needs, before the photographer. Also, you shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions to the photographer. If the photographer doesn’t like you asking them questions, then you shouldn’t work for them in the first place. These were some of the tips she gave for an assistant.

Created this with nail polish

Created this with nail polish

She mentioned something interesting about finding a job. If you know someone who can get you a job, keep “bugging” them. Keep emailing and remind them. Sometimes people just don’t reply because they are so busy, but the moment they know that they need an assistant, they would contact you. She said she would hire someone who is passionate and excited. When she was looking for a job, she would constantly email people because that would show her passion and excitement and eventually she found one.

Passion projects are a lot of fun and Ms. Blackburne said that she tries to do a lot of them. One of them she worked on was with Professor Eli. And this project was picked up by Vogue Germany, and a few other famous magazines, which was pretty cool!

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Professor Eli created this and Ms. Blackburne photographed it.

Professor Eli created this and Ms. Blackburne photographed it.

Professor Eli created this and Ms. Blackburne photographed it.

She said she spends more then 50% of the time not photographing during shoots. Mainly, its fixing the light or the prop, or speaking about it with the art director. So not a lot of time is spent on actually photographing. Also, besides photographing, she spends time organizing files, retouching, doing billings etc. She mentioned something very important, “If you can’t manage time and stay organized you will not succeed as a photographer.” And I agree with this fully. Not just photography, but in any field, time management and staying organized is very critical.

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She also does a lot of jewelry photography which was great to see because I can relate to it. She said this above photograph was a composite of 30 photos. That’s incredible.

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 9.40.28 PMAfter the shoot was done, she just put all of the rings on her fingers and took a photo for her Instagram. She showed the photo to the art director of that shoot and she quickly said lets get a hand model and take it in proper lighting, and the image above emerged. So sometimes you publish what you don’t plan at all, and it’s all impromptu.

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The above image took her almost a day to retouch because the powder splash were composites of a bunch of photos.

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They went through 30 cartons of strawberries to find the “perfect” strawberry, and the above image resulted in that.

She also emphasized about using Instagram regularly and also allocating a time to market your work.

In conclusion, she gave some amazing tips for being a photographer. I will certainly try to imbibe them in my career and be a successful creative.