What do you look for when hiring a photo assistant?

 
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timophoto
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 13, 2010 12:28 am    Post subject: What do you look for when hiring a photo assistant? Reply with quote

Hi Photographers!

If you are a commercial photographer who uses freelance photo assistants, I would love to hear your feedback...

I will be on a panel of photo assistants in February, for a local ASMP meeting in Minneapolis, and I am curious to know what photographers are looking for these days when hiring a freelance assistant. This pertains in particular to the general camera/lighting assistant, not a digitech. Some basis for this question may include level of experience, knowledge of gear/equipment, personality, age/gender, assistant vs. digitech, education, computers/software, etc.

In addition, you may also comment on the process by which you seek new assistants, the interview process, expectations of an assistant, do you like to see their portfolio (do you like book or web portfolios?), and any other pertinent criteria that comes into play here.

Now, I've been assisting awhile, but despite how much I think I know about anything photography, I've learned to always ask questions and learn new ways of looking at, and doing things. So, your feedback here is very important to me. I understand there will be a diverse range of opinions, ideas, and needs based on different photographers and styles of shooting, but I'm just looking to get a broad representation here of what I might pass on to other assistants looking for work, these days, from photographers they aspire to work with.

Thanks, in advance, for your consideration.
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Brooks Ayola
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 13, 2010 12:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This was something I posted eslewhere to a slightly different question, but I think it's good info here.. Besides, I'm too lazy to type up a whole new post. :-)

I've been a great assistant, but had very few. I was the guy who thought two steps ahead of the people I was working with. I always had my eyes on everything and fixed it or moved it before anyone else noticed it was out of place. I always made sure clients were comfortable and had everything they needed. When everything was where it needed to be and we were in wait mode, I was cleaning. I tried to make the set look like we were shooting a behind the scenes movie. I tried to always be busy. Clients notice that. I've had clients tell me they didn't like one of my assistants because they didn't look like they were working hard enough and felt they were paying for someone to sit around.

Be good on the phone, you'll be on it a lot. Be good with people, in general.

All that and know the equipment, as mentioned above. :-)

Oh, and after a couple times working with a photographer, KNOW HIS/HER STUDIO! I hate it when the assistant I've used twenty times has to ask me were to find an extension cord.

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Last edited by Brooks Ayola on Wed Jan 13, 2010 6:21 am; edited 1 time in total
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Mike
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 13, 2010 6:17 am    Post subject: Re: What do you look for when hiring a photo assistant? Reply with quote

timophoto wrote:
Hi Photographers!

If you are a commercial photographer who uses freelance photo assistants, I would love to hear your feedback...

I will be on a panel of photo assistants in February, for a local ASMP meeting in Minneapolis, and I am curious to know what photographers are looking for these days when hiring a freelance assistant. This pertains in particular to the general camera/lighting assistant, not a digitech. Some basis for this question may include level of experience, knowledge of gear/equipment, personality, age/gender, assistant vs. digitech, education, computers/software, etc.

In addition, you may also comment on the process by which you seek new assistants, the interview process, expectations of an assistant, do you like to see their portfolio (do you like book or web portfolios?), and any other pertinent criteria that comes into play here.



For the past nine or ten years I have been working with the same guy but when he is not available I have to find someone else. It's not very easy to try and find someone to work with. I am finding it harder and harder to find decent people to work with/for me. I don't know if it's an LA thing or not but many of the assistants that I have hired have been only booked for one job. The main reason for not hiring them again is they simply talk too much. They talk about the other jobs they've worked on, they talk about the higher budget shoots they've worked on. They talk about the other photographers they've worked with. Frankly I don't give a shit about that, they are working with me so STFU about what you did last month or last year. If they want to use a skill they learned, that's fine but taking over the conversation in front of a client is a no-no, once I sent an asst home because he didn't know where he fit in the command structure....It may be because since it's a freelance gig and not full time the asst feel like he needs to prove something and there is no bond between the photog and the asst, I am pretty easy going but some things get to me. I will be more than happy to explain how the Hensel batterys fit into the unit, but I should not have to teach the asst manners and how to behave like an asst on a set. You wanna tell war stories? Become the photographer and you can talk all day long. A good assistant is part of MY team and is watching my back and uses discretion when in front of the client.

I find new assistants mostly via word of mouth. Age, gender don;t matter to me, decent technical experience is a given. I haven't found a digitech I trust/can afford. My #1 does that when needed.

Two more things:
1.Put the cell phone on silent.
2.Pay attention to the here and now.
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AndersonDigital
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 13, 2010 3:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Im currently working as a Digital Tech but I have about 7 of experience as a freelance assistant - having worked at all levels with different photographers from all over. Mike I wanted to say one quick suggestion to you. I understand where you are comming from about assistants talking to much. I have had photographers come out and tell me where they stand as far as talking in front of / to the client. that always works for me - ive had it go the other way where they want me to entertain the client to keep them off their back. Moving into the role of DigiTech discretion and professional interaction have become really important - thats where i feel like all those years or assisting experience get put to use. just wanted to chime in that one little tidbit... a little directness goes a long way. Smile
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Mike
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 13, 2010 8:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

AndersonDigital wrote:
Im currently working as a Digital Tech but I have about 7 of experience as a freelance assistant - having worked at all levels with different photographers from all over. Mike I wanted to say one quick suggestion to you. I understand where you are comming from about assistants talking to much. I have had photographers come out and tell me where they stand as far as talking in front of / to the client. that always works for me - ive had it go the other way where they want me to entertain the client to keep them off their back. Moving into the role of DigiTech discretion and professional interaction have become really important - thats where i feel like all those years or assisting experience get put to use. just wanted to chime in that one little tidbit... a little directness goes a long way. Smile


Hi David-
I don't mind if we are talking about the Lakers or Avatar or how cold it is "It was sixty when I left the house this morning!! Sixty!!I almost needed a sweater!" But talking about other jobs is kind like being on a date and telling stories about the other hot girls/guys you've been out with. When i was in Detroit a lot of the ADs were women, so I'd be sure book either Nancy (assistant) or Loretta (MUA) so they could chat up the clients about 'girl stuff'. I could never keep the plot lines of Sex in the City straight but they all seemed to!
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AndersonDigital
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 14, 2010 5:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I know... its totally lame. I used to try and do that too - it pretty much amounts to insecurity of some sort - especially if it is forced. we already deal with enough bs in this biz why introduce more into the shoot right?

Just have a good time and work hard-

Oh and its 20 here in minneapolis- was below zero for weeks!
I want LA!

Anyway sorry if we are hijacking your thread tim-
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timophoto
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 14, 2010 9:54 pm    Post subject: More? Reply with quote

I'd love to hear some more feedback here if anyone else cares to chime in. Thanks
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bubs
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 16, 2010 8:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can second and third what Mike says. Silence is golden. Back in LA I had decent assistants who knew their place. Coming to this new market (Northern Ireland), I have had to spell it all out for everyone I have used. I have usually had to do it two or three times as well; try not to talk to much to the AD, they need to keep their mind on the shoot or just plain "stop hitting on the client and pay attention".
Coming up through the ranks when I started, I learned a few positive things;
1. keep busy, there is always something you could be working on so don't stand there with your hands in your pockets
2. make sure the photographer has everything they need to work
3. keep a tight ship, have all the gear, bags and equipment in a confined area that you can monitor either in the studio or location.
4. come to a shoot prepared. good assistants will find out what gear is used and learn it if they don't already. visit the rental houses and ask for demos etc.
5. by 10:30/11am make sure lunch is ordered. A personal one of mine since I tend to get immersed into things, I like to make sure everyone is fed and happy for at least 1 or 2 pm. Nothing worse than a hungry crew screaming mutiny over food.
6. leave at the end of the day with the location/studio better/cleaner than when you arrived.

I probably have more but still waking up.
r
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Mike
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 17, 2010 5:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

bubs wrote:

1. keep busy, there is always something you could be working on so don't stand there with your hands in your pockets

r


That;s very true, there is always something to do.

My old boss at Burger King would say "If you got time to lean you got time to clean."
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timophoto
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2010 3:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for your thoughtful replies everyone.
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bluehouse
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2012 5:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

He should have great communication skills and should be flexible enough to work well with other people.
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Mike
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2012 10:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dm8gE8YoG6A
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kendrikwiley
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 11, 2013 7:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The business of photography is a very booming in the market and also it requires some special skills in a photographer.There are many photographer who wants to hire an assistant who will help them.Many people wants to start their photography career as an assistant.
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zanithpaul
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PostPosted: Thu May 09, 2013 12:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Photography is an innovative art, for that creativity is the most important ingredient. Photographer must be having the creative thoughts for making the photos as attractive and special. So choosing the best photographer is very essential thing in some special occasions, assistance should be in cooperative manner.
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