Being a Photo Assistant – Behind the Scene

Being a Photo Assistant – Behind the Scene

Documentary photography

I’ve been working in photography, booking my own jobs & sending photos to satisfied clients for over 5 years now. Before that I volunteered my skills for 4 or 5 years alongside studying to grow as a photographer and gain access to some cool locations & people. Nowadays after all that hard work & experience, and despite running my own photography business, I’m going to talk about why every now & then I still demote myself from photographer to become a photography assistant.


The short answer is this: it isn’t a demotion. Just like it was before I started getting paid, it is valuable to me to forgo payment or being the big(ish) dog in charge and do something for the experience. You see, I really believe that we are never done learning, or at least, we shouldn’t be. Being teachable & open to learning keeps us both humble and young at heart. There are plenty of photographers with more experience and skills than me, so it is beneficial for me to recognise that and see who I can go to so I can up my game.


Another reason it isn’t really a demotion is that many photography assistants really kick butt at their jobs! Their title may say assistant but they are talented photographers in their own rights and they have that job because they work really well on a team. They might even be better at certain tasks or areas of skill or knowledge than the main photographer. Working together means that we get to combine our strengths, negate our weaknesses and create work that we could not have completed individually. I personally love to work with people; being your own boss and a lone wolf can be fun for a while, but give me passionate people to partner with and we’ll be creating some great work and having fun doing it!


So today’s photos are from a trip I took in December up to Nottingham, I was up working on a multi-day shoot when I called Rob at Scene Photography to let him know I was in town for a week or so. I’d met Rob back in 2008 when I got to assist him for a couple of days to gain experience. He is extremely talented and has an amazing studio space and so every now and then I hit him up for advice or the chance to assist on a job.


As it happened Rob had a two day job in the studio shooting a high end catering company called Blackwell & Wootton. I love doing food photography so I jumped at the chance. I spent the day doing everything from giving input on compositional issues & lighting (because Rob is apparently very secure in himself) through to getting coffees & guarding an expensive oil painting so it didn’t get damaged (no job too big or small – when you’re on set, you’re there to serve), not to mention providing the BTS shots for the day.


As you can see, at the end of the two days the main thrust had been to produce a set of incredibly modern, graphically geometric images that went alongside a set of traditionally classic still life shots worthy of the Dutch masters.


I had an amazing time, I learned a lot, I met some amazing people (as well as got to east some delicious props) & look forward to more opportunities to mix up my work week by serving someone else’s vision for a while, at the same time, expanding my own.