When I first met Yvonne Song before our big plate of Olio e Più’s spaghetti carbonara, she apologized frantically for looking horrible and having no makeup on — she was wearing fake eyelashes and looked amazing — because she had spent all day shooting for the brand PrettyLittleThing and had no time to get ready.
Completely confused and in awe, I asked her to explain and encouraged her not to leave out any details. We hustled through Greenwich Village to our reservation and she explained to me that she was an assistant to fashion photographer Tomás Herold, who shoots for some pretty well-known celebrities.
She agreed to discuss her internship with me as long as I went to lunch at NYU’s Torch Club with her after. A sushi burrito in exchange for an exclusive interview seemed like a fair deal to me.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
WSN: Can you describe your internship?
Yvonne Song: I’m currently working for Tomás Herold, a freelance photographer here in New York City, and the internship essentially revolves around magazines, fashion, editorial and music video shoots.
WSN: How did you get the position?
YS: It’s a funny story, because Tomás found me on the street. I was outside of the ramen shop next to Weinstein Hall and he came up to me while I was holding my camera and lying on the street for my final project. He asked me if I was a photographer and we shared our Instagram Reels and portfolios. I basically got the job after that.
WSN: What’s a typical working day like?
YS: Usually I start off by setting up the life — the props and background — in the studio for the shoot, then I help with the lighting and set up the flash all while assisting the photographer.
WSN: What are the ups and downs of the job?
YS: It’s definitely fun being around the city and shooting for different people. However, it can be tiring at times because I’m always running around. I’ll go uptown and then downtown and even to Brooklyn. Sometimes I have to pick up equipment for the photographer, so that can be hard lugging it place to place.
WSN: Who have you shot for before?
YS: I helped assist Tomás on one of Offset’s new music videos. I also assisted recently with the Versace x Cardi B shoot.
WSN: How has it been interacting with celebrities?
YS: I mean, it’s definitely intimidating to start to see celebrities but I think you just have to keep your career face on while shooting for them. So, you have to make yourself professional and treat them as normal people.
WSN: How have you grown from this and did you imagine yourself in this position initially?
YS: I didn’t expect to find an internship like this in the first term, especially outside of a ramen restaurant; but, it’s definitely helpful for me because I want to become a creative director in the future. Immersing myself in practical work now and physically being in the industry is a great experience.
WSN: What type of person should seek this experience out and what kind of traits would one need to have to succeed?
YS: You have to be passionate because it can be exhausting, and you just have to keep going. You also need to have curiosity because it’s important to explore this industry and be open to learning while shooting for different people.
WSN: What other doors can this internship lead to? Does it have the potential to become a full-time job?
YS: I think this internship right now is an amazing learning experience to see what the industry is like. However, I don’t see this becoming a full-time job, as I eventually want to have my own position as a creative director and be in charge of photoshoots myself. I’m hoping to explore different areas in the entertainment industry like art and creative direction, so I need to have experience and skills in different areas.
WSN: Last question. What has been your favorite part about your internship so far?
YS: Oh, definitely meeting celebrities. I mean, it’s definitely fun to shoot around people that are famous online. But at the same time, I think that it’s just fun to talk to them in person and realize that they’re actually really normal people who are passionate about what they’re doing too. It makes me feel inspired and is a good reminder of exactly why I love photography and why I continue to pursue this career.
Contact Olivia Liu at [email protected]