A Practical Guide to Working With Photo Assistants

Hiring a photo assistant can significantly enhance your workflow. Their role is often misunderstood or underutilized, but understanding how and when to hire one can make your shoots more efficient and less stressful.

Coming to you from Daniel Norton Photographer, this insightful video addresses the many facets of working with a photo assistant. Norton discusses what a photo assistant is, the tasks they handle, and the best practices for hiring and paying them. Assistants are not just for those who come up through formal training but are also essential for those who dive into photography later in life or without formal education.

In the video, Norton explains that a photo assistant's role varies. They are there to make your job easier, handling tasks such as setting up lights, running software like Lightroom or Capture One, and even mundane tasks like guarding your gear. Their expertise can fill gaps in your knowledge, allowing you to focus on your strengths. Norton highlights a personal story where his experience with outdoor flash photography made him invaluable to a client. This example underscores the practical benefits of hiring an experienced assistant.

Norton also elaborates on the different types of photo assistants. Some are freelance, hired on a per-project basis, while others work full-time, often taking on additional duties like managing bookings. The video emphasizes the importance of paying assistants fairly and fostering long-term relationships. Experienced assistants, particularly those who know your style and system, can become indispensable, almost an extension of yourself.

Norton also provides practical advice on how to find and hire assistants. He suggests looking online, at professional associations, and in local rental houses where assistants often leave their contact information. He also offers tips on managing assistants effectively, such as keeping cash on hand for errands and ensuring they have access to all necessary contact information and addresses.

Paying assistants appropriately is crucial. Norton advises paying them at the end of the job and highlights the standard rates, which can vary based on experience and location. This ensures that assistants are motivated and feel valued, fostering a productive working relationship. The video also touches on when to hire an assistant. It’s not always necessary for simple shoots but can be invaluable for more complex projects. He suggests evaluating the size and demands of each project to determine whether an assistant is needed. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Norton.

Alex Cooke's picture

Alex Cooke is a Cleveland-based portrait, events, and landscape photographer. He holds an M.S. in Applied Mathematics and a doctorate in Music Composition. He is also an avid equestrian.

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1 Comment

If someone needs to have their hands held through this, they should probably just go assist...