Colin assisted all kinds of photographers in New York, learning his craft on the job. He was lucky enough to work with fashion photographer Enrique Badulescu for three years in the mid to late 1990s. Badulescu thought outside the box and did a lot of non-conventional things with photography – which showed Colin other possibilities rather than the conventional and relatively straight-laced methods used by the photographers he had been working with up until then.
Around 1998 he started getting work of his own and obtained an agent in London. He lived in London for a short time shooting for i-D and The Observer magazine but when he ran out of money he went back to NYC and to his then girlfriend. Lucky thing too because not long after he returned he took a shot of her when she came out of the shower that ended up as the iconic cover of the first Strokes album Is This It, which launched his career.