Magazine photo editor shares success tips with students

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Rebecca Simpson Steele ’02

No matter what the topic—health, travel or politics—Rebecca Simpson Steele has built a career conceptualizing and sharing stories through images.

Steele ’02 (applied photography), deputy photo editor at Prevention magazine, returned to her alma mater in January to speak on a panel along with other photography alumnae.

With the challenging job market, students sought advice on finding jobs and how to break into the business.

“I reminded them that you have to do a lot of internships,” says Steele. “Send out résumés. You definitely have to keep an eye out on job boards and know where to look. The rejection, though, can be hard to deal with.”

While a student, Steele, a native of Annapolis, Md., landed summer internships at the Maryland State House photographing the activities of the governor and lieutenant governor and then as a photo intern in the West Wing.

“It wasn’t a paid position, but I had the joy of being at the White House. It was a great internship to apply for. I met President Bill Clinton and Hillary and Chelsea. I got to know all the security staff in the West Wing. I remember we did a photograph of President Clinton’s Cabinet. The director of photography used a large format, 4x5 camera and the interns helped set up the shot. That was fun.”

Passionate too about the environment, she pursued a concentration in environmental studies.

“It was always my goal to marry photography and the environment,” she says. “I am excited to work at an environmentally aware company. Prevention is going through a redesign and becoming even more environmentally aware by adding a planet section.”

A typical day for Steele, who has worked at Prevention since 2007, consists of meetings with editors, art directing on-set photo shoots and pitching freelance photographers.

She was formerly senior photo editor and associate photo editor at Budget Travel magazine and photo editor for Kiplinger’s quarterly issue magazines.

Her goal is to become a director of photography.

She says that taking courses from various professors prepared her well for the working world.

“I took many different teachers. I think that’s a really good idea as you are going to have to work with people with different personalities,” she says. “It prepares you for life.”