I have read quite a few blogs about being a photographers Assistant and each of them have so many good points to consider. Normally when I shoot I do so with a colleague and we provide each other with more informal assistance. The beauty of that is that you know each other shooting styles well enough to make informed decisions of lighting and the approach of the assistant. But I know that many photographers are reluctant to take on new assistants on a more informal basis because of bad experiences.
This is my personal take on what makes a good (and bad) assistant.
If you agree to assist me I will expect……
… you to read the information I send you. I am good at preparation and always produce a casting brief and moodboard. Do not arrive without having read through it.
… you to be on time at the location!
… you not to bring a camera unless I have specifically asked you to do so. This is your chance to observe and assist not to get in a few shots
… you not to shoot right behind me and trigger my lights right before I try to. This to me is a sacking offence
… you to be the person, at the level you are. I do not need you to be a lighting expert or a photography/photoshop whizz. I’m happy to explain as I go along.
… you to pay attention when I shoot and not daydream right behind me so that you trip me up
… you to to stand in for the model while we test the lights and not be coy about having your photo taken.
… you to help the model, the make-up artist and myself carry kit, cases and sometimes what feels like whole wardrobes without being asked to do so.
… you to fetch coffee for me when I need it. I do not expect you to pay but I do expect you to remember that I hate milk and not bring me a cappuchino
… you to point out to me if models have labels sticking out at the top of the jumper, have fluff on their black tights and generally help me see
… you to know your own limits. If I ask too much or you get too cold/fed up - I do expect you to make every effort to keep up but I do not expect you to be superhuman. Don’t ask me to be a mindreader either tho - so tell me!
… you to be polite and helpful to everyone on set and be particularly observant of a models need for privacy