INTERVIEW: Katie Levine (BA '14), Commercial Photographer

Interviewed on July 20, 2015 by Jodi Hardee (MA ’04)

“Talent is common, ambition is rare.” Katie_Levine_headshot.jpg

Katie Levine’s ambition comes from finding her true passion in photography, leading her to an award-winning career behind the lens.

After studying art history and Latin for two years at Iowa State University, Katie Levine (BA ’14) transferred to Columbia to study commercial photography. A week after graduating, she moved to NYC and is currently a photo and production assistant at Annie Leibovitz's studio, as well as a freelance photographer.  Follow Katie on Instagram  @NomadictFashion and

What is your most memorable experience you had while attending Columbia?

Columbia is like family and I’m still involved with people that I met there. Some of my closest friends in NYC graduated from Columbia. We stick together and help each other out.

What is the most important thing you learned at Columbia?

Columbia is great because they teach you not just an artistic craft, but the business side as well. I learned how to conduct myself professionally and how to approach clients.

Tell me about your internships.

During my junior year, I interned at VOGUE magazine in Los Angeles. I was in the editorial department learning how to run a magazine and was assisting stylists. My biggest break was VOGUE magazine and working for photographer Annie Liebovitz doing photography and production. It was amazing to learn about lighting and different techniques.

Have you worked on any interesting campaigns?

I was a photo assistant on the Louis Vuitton spring 2015 campaign shot by Annie Liebovitz. The campaign was shot at a construction site at the top of what will be the world’s tallest residential building in NYC. I have also worked for Glamour, Woman’s Day, Women’s Wear Daily, and Condé Naste Bridal. I am currently working on a web series.

What advice would you give someone trying to gain experience in photography?

Talent is common, but ambition is rare. You have to be willing to put in the work that you need to do. As a photo assistant, I might have to carry 90 plus pounds of camera equipment on photo shoots. Not many people want to do that. I had to prove to myself and others that I could do it.

What advice would you give to current Columbia students?

Talk to your teachers and build relationships with them. I was constantly talking to my teachers outside of class. They have been there in the field and there is so much to learn from them.  I would even write them personal thank you notes!


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