From self-employed local portrait photographers to high-profile professionals who've been featured in magazines, many photographers rely on assistants to help their businesses run smoothly. If you're an aspiring photographer, working as an assistant could be a great way to get your foot in the door and learn more about the industry while developing your skills. While every photographer has different requirements and expectations for her assistant, there are some basic duties you'll likely take on once you find a photographer to work for.
When you first start out as an assistant, you'll probably be tasked with a lot of administrative duties to keep things around the office in order so the photographer can focus on taking photos. You might be in charge of scheduling photo shoots, organizing photos and files, keeping inventory records and arranging contact information for models, creative directors and other professionals in the business. The photographer could also ask you to tidy up the office space to make sure it looks professional and presentable for clients. If you have experience with photo editing, you might also assist the photographer in digitally manipulating and editing photos before they are finalized and shown to clients.
Before a photographer chooses a location for a photo shoot, she might send you to scope things out. You'll assess the location carefully to make sure it suits the photographer's needs. You'll check for vehicle accessibility and power hookups, if necessary. You might also make judgments about the scenery to report back to the photographer whether or not you feel the location will work for the photo shoot she had in mind.
Setting Up for Photo Shoots
Before the clients or models arrive, you'll probably be tasked with getting everything for the photo shoot in order. This could include hanging backdrops, arranging lighting, organizing props, taking meter readings and testing out all of the photographic equipment to make sure everything is working properly.
While not all photographers teach assistants the trade, you might get lucky and find work with a photographer who's willing to show you the ropes. After demonstrating your knowledge of photography techniques and creative skill, you might get the opportunity to occasionally work as a second shooter directly supporting the photographer during photo shoots. This duty is what draws many assistants into the profession, as they hope to gain experience and improve their skills alongside a mentor so they can eventually pursue careers in photography on their own.