The Photography Assistant

For all the young photographers wanting to become a full time commercial, fashion or advertising photographer the first step to contemplate is often becoming a photography assistant. Most people decide that a photography school may help and often engage in the process of studying photography. To become a photographer often means learning the job from a professional. This step will get you closer to understanding the many parts one will have to master before going on his own. Few people have become successful photographers without the training assisting gives you. Often these peoples were very business oriented and excellent at figuring things out quickly. Being an assistant is, I believe the best training. It teaches you how one deals with client, how to deliver what the client is looking for etc. In this brief excerpt from “The Photography Assistant handbook,” I described some of the responsibilities a photography assistant has to deal with.

“To Assist: To give aid, to support.

The basic duty of an Assistant is to “assist” the photographer in the execution and creation of an image or photograph at the request of a client. It is a pretty simple idea until one shows up at a photographer’s door not knowing where anything is located, what the photographer is like, what he/she will expect the assistant to do, what is the first thing that needs to be done etc. Once experienced, the assistant will be able to walk into any situation and be fine. This person will know what needs to be prioritized and will move smoothly through the day without any problems. New assistants will struggle and require a lot of coaching and directing. The key for any new assistant is to constantly wonder, ” How can I help the photographer right now?” Common sense will help greatly.”

“The role of the assistant is extremely important. For a young assistant it is more difficult when he/she doesn’t really know what is expected and when no one takes the time to explain what kind of help is required. It is pretty clear that an assistant will help the photographer with the shoot but the details of how to best accomplish that job may be missing. The photographer’s preferences, the specific way he/she will want things done, how things are packed etc. The assistant must make an effort to communicate with the photographer and/or the first assistant to have a really clear idea of what specific role he/she will fill.

Photographers and photography studios believe that an assistant is going through a step in his/her education that will allow that person to grow and become a photographer. A learning period during which the studying is done on the job. Most photographers are happy to answer any questions as to what will be photographed, how and why etc, always know that questions are welcomed when asked at the right time. To simplify the process think of an assisting job in various parts:

o The Introduction: Getting to speak with the photographer, confirming the job, what is expected, what kind of shoot etc.
o Travel or time with Photographer: Getting to know each other, review equipment, getting a feel for what the day may be like.
o The Set-up: Making sure that you know all the equipment that will be used, its location, what the photographer wants, that everything is set up properly.
o The Shoot: Focus on the Photographer, his/her needs during the shoot. Keep track of the files, the clients, other assistants, and all the people involved in the shoot etc.
o The Break down: Pay attention to not break anything, or lose anything and put everything away in the same place as they were upon arrival.”…

Assistant’s “must do” list on a Digital Shoot

1/ Know and understand the photographer’s “Back-up” system.
2/ Set one up if the Photographer does not have one. If Photographer decides there is no time for it. Then any problem will be his/her responsibility
3/ Always back-up Files in the proper manner.( Same files in multiple Locations)
4/ Read the Histogram of a file and check it during the photo shoot.
5/ Make sure that the photographs are captured in the appropriate Format.
6/ Check to make sure that photographs are “Sharp” (in Focus).
7/ Never, ever delete files unless you are absolutely sure files are backed-up.
8/ Never empty trash on computer unless everything is backed up, and you are positive all files in trash are in at least 2 different locations.
9/ Set up a “Naming” system that works, so files do not have the same name and may overwrite each other.
10/ Feel silly because you are not sure??? Create a folder named “Not sure”. Review the folder when time allows it with photographer.
11/ Check F-stop, Shutter speed during shoot to make sure they have not changed accidentally!

If shipping images from jobs on Hard Drives, ship separately! Maybe two exact copy of the same content on 2 different hard drives and sent at 2 different times.”

I hope that you enjoyed this brief intro to what a photo assistant must know and do during photo shoots.

Bruno Debas

How to Start a Digital Photography Business

So you took a lot of pictures and a lot of your friends are saying that you are good at it. However, you’re tired of just receiving a lot of praise because what you really wanted is to make money out of your talent. You then keep on thinking on how to start a photography business.

Well I’m glad you think that way my friend. Unless you’re really have a high paying job that gives you a lot of extra time, making photography for just a hobby is not practical at all. Think of how expensive the camera is and its equipment. Companies are also upgrading brand new models every now and then so you need also to catch up or else you’ll be left behind. Therefore, you really need to know how to start a photography business for you to have some resources for buying your gears and sooner, it might be your bread and butter.

Here are things that you need to know on how to start a photography business:

1. Choose an area that generates money in your situation

There are various areas in photography and it’s really up to you to choose where you can fit yourself in. However, since you wanted to know how to start a photography business, you must also place yourself in an area that gives you income. You might love taking abstract pictures but you might not be able to generate money from it. Well, I’m not saying that there’s no money in abstract photography. What I’m saying is that choose an area in photography that you not only like but will also be a good source of income in your situation for a long run.

One good example here is wedding photography. I have friends who are really good in capturing artistic shots. They post those photos in Facebook and they receive a lot of good comments. However, with that kind of photography, it’s only good for sharing in social networks but does not give them any dime from it. Because of that, they do wedding photography. Every now and then, many couples are getting married so they always have bookings for a shoot. This area in photography might not be their first option in this field. But since they wanted photography for business, they still do it.

2. Starting from a sideline first

At first, you might not have a lot of resources and you really don’t know how to start a photography business. If you have a job now that is not related to photography, it’s not yet a good idea to just drop that job immediately and do photography full-time. That might be possible if you really got lucky but I tell you what, it’s very risky for now. Building up a business is not an overnight matter. Therefore I suggest taking it slow and making it a sideline for now. How about offering a photo shoot to your friends and colleagues first. You can start by offering them a big discount. This will save them some money from hiring a professional photographer. It will also give you an opportunity to learn and earn income bit by bit. Almost every successful businessmen started from being small. How to start a photography business is not different.

4. Use the power of the internet

Create your blog or even a website and upload your photo samples there. Create a fan page also in Facebook and even Twitter. Almost everybody now is using the internet so who knows, you might be discovered! It’s also good to join photography forums online. You can ask questions to your fellow photographers about skills in photography and even how to run the business. Many professionals are always willing to give some help and even tell you how to start a photography business.

5. Make a goal to do photography business full-time

If photography is what you really like to do in life, you must dream to make it your full-time job. But before that happens, you really need to invest in skills and equipment in photography. It is also good to work as an assistant of a professional photographers at first. By that you can learn how your boss do the business and make your own soon. If there’s an opportunity, join a photo shoot and see how they do it. One day, you’ll be able to stand in your own feet and do your own business.