Knowing What to Look for When Hiring an Assistant During the Busy Season

Knowing What to Look for When Hiring an Assistant During the Busy Season

Recently the studio hired a new assistant for the busy holiday season. While the intention was for light assistant work it quickly changed when the applicant mentioned they knew album design, retouching, and much more. Before sitting down with an applicant, have you thought about the possibilities of what more they could do for you?

As a creative, I move back and forth sometimes seasonally and sometimes weekly on which tasks bring me joy as well as which I loath to accomplish. However as business owners we simply "suck it up" and do it all as most of us are running the ship ourselves. After some recent injuries to my hands and shoulders I was in need of some light retouching work to help me through the busy season. This image is a true shot of my desk, sticky notes and all. Getting backed up with orders and keeping the studio clean I looked for some part time help. I preferred someone local so I could not only have it done in my office but also so the assistant could help around the studio after sessions.

The plan was to try and find an intern from the local arts school. Instead a local photographer who was planning on closing down the business end of her company applied. She was wanting to step back and only work on creative projects instead of running a full company. She was hoping to still be involved in the industry but only work on personal projects and no longer client based work.

In this process I quickly realized this was a win-win for the both of us. I could hire someone who already knew the design factors, retouching and understanding the creative process. If you can find a gem like this, there are a few things to consider when hiring a fellow photographer.

  • Prior to hiring, find out what their reputation is in the area. The last thing you want to do is bring in someone who created bad business in your town and perhaps have a negative effect on your own company.
  • Create a contract that will keep you and your company safe in the event they decide to go back into full time photography.
    • The contract she signed, stated she agreed not to compete with the boudoir or underwater work for a certain amount of time following leaving my company.
    • She had to sign another portion stating due to the nature of my boudoir clients she agreed she would never discuss names outside of the studio as a privacy to them during and any time after leaving the company.
  • Most photographers have their own ways of editing or designing albums. She was a wedding photographer so I worked with her on her first day showing her my own preferences and style. For the first week she had to have my own approval prior to sending to production so I could be certain she was not falling into her own style as habit.
  • If you cannot find someone who is getting out of their own business, it might be helpful to find someone in other genre who will not be in competition with your own company. Perhaps there is a family photographer who only shoots part time looking for another part time work to fill in.
  • Have them edit an image of your own and ask them the process on their flow. I wanted to make sure she was retouching to my standards and not throwing a preset on the image only. This was an important decision for me when deciding to chose her rather than a temporary intern.

While everyday I want to photograph boudoir or underwater, the love for emails and retouching changes depending on my mood. Some days I want to retouch and design. Other days I want to clean my house and write. Having someone there to fill in for me where ever it is needed has created a space in my life that I finally feel balance.

Another option is to hire a personal assistant. If you are feeling overwhelmed during the busy season but hate to lose control of your editing and other business related issues, a personal assistant. They can maintain your home and run your errands so you can focus on what you love doing. There is no shame in having a little help when you run a business. It is how we grow.

Fellow photographer Beth Claire recently had surgery and had to be on rest for a few weeks after. She had her social media manager take on more tasks with social media, email, inquiries, messages, and more. This allowed her to rest while still keeping up with leads and clients. Having someone there to help in the studio was important while recovering as I am doubtful her adorable pup was keeping up with these tasks.

Image with permission and courtesy of Beth Claire

From the start of this I was not originally looking for someone to stay on with the company past the holiday. However having someone who can do everything from editing tan lines, to client correspondence, to working with technical issues dealing with my vendor software so I could be at my daughters swim meet knowing it was in good hands was priceless. If you have an assistant that works for you comment below on what type of tasks they took on for you personally or your company.

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4 Comments

Robert Smith's picture

Before hiring a personal assistant, you need to hire someone to check your frickin spelling.

Jennifer Tallerico's picture

Thanks for catching that! All articles are sent to an editor after written but sometimes a letter is missed.
I’m not perfect but it is the information that I’m hoping to pass on!

Jeremy Center's picture

What that guy (^) said. Another reason people hire editors.

Aw, come on guys! It was just the headline! Maybe she wasn't responsible for how the headline was written for posting?