Photographer’s Assistant Guide.

Assisting in November 2001
Shooting a Spring/Summer Catalogue in Brighton in November, after I’d officially retired from assisting. The man under my arm is the photographer, and my punch is only half-faked…

To coincide with the seminars I’ll be teaching at Calumet Drummond St in the next few weeks, I’ll be posting a series of posts on the mysteries of being a photographer’s assistant. Having spent a fair amount of time in colleges in the past few years, I’m well aware that rather a lot of colleges are neglecting to mention that it’s almost impossible to start out as a photographer immediately after your course finishes, and that assisting is a vital step on the ladder. Besides this, assistants tend to slip under the radar somewhat, and could do with having more light shone upon them, and more praise heaped upon the essential work they do.

I assisted as a freelancer for 3 years, for about 30 different photographers, and without doubt it was the building block of my current career. Not only did it give me an enormous technical grounding, it taught me about how the industry works, who does what, where work comes from, how to behave with clients (as well as how not to..) and actually provided me with some early work as a photographer in my own right, which I built into the career I have now. I even earnt money whilst doing all this, though not a great amount, it must be said.

Assisting in 2000
Standing in on a Royal Mail shoot, if memory serves me right. Face-pulling for polaroids was considered de rigueur.

These days I employ quite a few people as assistants, though only on a freelance basis. Like anyone else, I’d always rather work with someone who I know, and who I can rely on, and it was the same when I assisted – I’d work for the same photographers over and over again. Hopefully when writing this guide I should be able to bring to bear both points of view – that of an (ex) assistant, and that of a photographer.


This post forms part of my Photographer’s Assistant guide.  The other posts in the series are:

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