It’s Not Just An Instagram Post

Over the past month, I have been interning at Red Tettemer O’Connell + Partners, an advertising agency in Philadelphia. The reason I chose to work here is because of their Wake and Make Studio, RTOP’s in-house production studio and team who work tirelessly to create exciting, cultivating media for clients. So far, this internship has been a dream. I have been able to have hands-on experience creating Instagram posts, Reels, and even commercials. The team has been extremely welcoming and has thrown me into every project they can.

I thought I knew the ins and outs of advertising agencies because of my two years of schooling. However, I learned the first day that there is much more that goes into creating work than I could have ever realized. How the system works is account managers and the creative team will put together a deck for the Makers, with details and mock-ups for a post the client has requested. From there, they make it.

What is left out of the fine print is how when a Maker creates this image, there are numerous steps that aren’t talked about, especially in the classroom. In between every shot it’s sent off, changed by art directors, reshot, changed by a creative director, reshot, changed by a client and the cycle continues. Even if the photo looks exactly like the mockup, it still could be wrong. Most times a single photo could take all day. For example, one time I spent hours helping to try to get a glare right using a prism so that the background of the photo had more depth to it.

What this process has taught me is how much this agency cares about making incredible work. While there are fake parts of advertising, the food (as featured below), the ice, the green screening, the people are not fake. They care.

My boss drives around a million places a day securing props for the next shoot. My co-worker paints the wall in the studio every other day to make sure that the background fits the vibe the client wants. One time he even put up wall paper! For one commercial shoot we had piece of wood that was being used as a desk and it started bubbling because the manufacturer made it wrong. One of my coworkers drove to New Jersey to get another. Yesterday at a shoot we realized we forgot gels for the lighting and I was sent in an Uber 20 minutes away to retrieve ours. There is so much thought and care that is put into each Instagram post, Reel, etc. While it might just look like a photo I will now appreciate every ad I see because I know that it took a team of planning, working, and creating to make it possible.

Fake “ice cream” I created using frosting and a ton of powdered sugar.
One of the locations we photographed at.
This wall that’s a different color every day.


  1. Hey Libby, your work is excellent!
    I love the power of food ads and how they look so realistic. I always wanted to work with an advertising agency with food prompts because they dedicated so much to making the food look appealing. Since my internship is in the restaurant industry dealing with advertising with food, I learn as well how important to take pictures to get the right visual because the food brings the customer to an establishment. Your internship at Red Tettemer O’Connell + Partners sounds like an incredible experience creating Instagram posts, commercials, and reels. It’s nice to know you work with a very helpful team and have participated in projects. What has been the most challenging project you have worked on at your internship?
    Keep up the excellent work, and good luck on your advertising adventure.

  2. Hi Libby! I remember you talking about beginning your internship at Red Tettemer and I am so happy it is going amazing for you. I loved the photos you added in your blog so I could actually see the intriciate process of creating amazing images. Wishing you all the best!

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