So You Want to be an Assistant

Rodney Alan shooting for NYLON MagazineBehind the Scenes for NYLON Magazine

I came across this article on FStoppers.com about assisting. If you’ve never heard of the website be sure to check it out, there are neat articles and videos on photography with a behind the scenes insight. Speaking of Fstoppers and behind the scenes video, a few of my own videos have appeared on FStopppers as well.  Check them out here and here.  But I digress, let’s get back on track.  Assisting.

BTS of LUCIMA for LA SplashBehind the scenes for LA Splash

From time to time I receive emails asking if I’m in need of assistants or an intern.  While I have that already covered its good to add to the list if the need arises.  With the numerous requests I receive looking to assist the question begs, does one actually know the roles and responsibility of an assistant? If not, that’s where this FStoppers article comes in handy.  It covers a lot of good points and if one has never assisted it will provide some insight.

Being that I’m a working photographer myself, I still assist and have on some of my fellow colleagues’ client shoots and productions.  I’ll provide a couple of my own “do’s” and “don’ts” as an assistant.

BTS of LUCIMA for LA SplashBehind the scenes for LA Splash

As an assistant, do make the photographer’s job easy.  Let him/her do their job which is to be creative and take pictures.  The assistant should be taking care of the little things to make the day run smoothly.  As an assistant always anticipate and be alert.  One doesn’t have to be literally at the side of the photographer, but merely in the “shadows” to know whats going on.  Doing so will allow you to be present when the moment arises.  Also as an assistant you’re expected to do some petty things like order/pick up lunch and even taking out the trash.  So leave your ego at the door.  Do what you’ve either volunteered or been hired to do.

BTS of LUCIMA for LA SplashBehind the scenes for LA Splash

Here’s a few “don’ts” as an assistant.  Assisting on any type of shoot is not the time to be chatty with the client, crew or even the talent.  That’s probably the most annoying thing an assistant can do.  So don’t be that guy that chats with the talent.  She’s not interested in seeing your work on your iPhone or following you on Instagram.  If there is some small talk with the client or talent, one should not be exchanging any contact information.  Assisting is not the time to book jobs as a photographer so don’t go pitching yourself.

If you find yourself with nothing to do and bored on set then it’s oblivious that you’re not paying attention to what’s going around so re-read the “do” paragraph cause I assure you there is something that needs to be done.  Also wanting to be an assistant doesn’t mean that you get to shoot or add to your book.  The closet you’ll get to a camera is when you’re either holding or switching out gear for the photographer.

BTS of LUCIMA for LA SplashBehind the scenes for LA Splash

And one more “don’t” as an assistant.  When it comes to behind the scenes pics or video, don’t post anything on social media.  Personally, I’ve had clients that don’t want “spoilers” of any kind to be on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.   Always check with the photographer when it comes to things like this.  Typically it’s a case by case kind of “don’t.”

What good is a blog post without any pics, right?  I only have a few pics while assisting so I’ve also included a behind the scenes pic of me shooting for NYLON magazine for their November 2012 issue.   The other behind the scenes pics was for LUCIMA‘s beauty campaign for LA Splash.  So there you have it, a little insight on assisting and a pretty neat article from FStoppers.com.

-Rodney Alan

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