Gem’s Professional Futures Lecture 2015

Commercial Photography

Whilst going through my notes I found a couple of pages from Gem’s lecture in second year on becoming established in the commercial photography industry. At this point in my research I am still open to many areas and decided that this could be useful information to include.

Possible Routes

  • Freelance assisting
  • Studio assistant
  • Photographic agencies
  • High profile printers
  • Personal Connections
  • High profile competitions
  • TV and film
  • Further education

Assisting Duties (freelance)

  • Normally one to three assistants on set.
  • First assistant answers directly to the photographer and usually pays a lot. They will also be very experienced and knowledgeable about the equipment.
  • Second and third assistant usually answer to the first assistant and are paid a fair amount less however as a result they have fewer responsibilities.
  • An assistants main role is to handle all the technical set up under the direct orders of the photographer. They are responsible for organising all aspects of the shoot including the changing of film/flash cards on the cameras, maintaing kit and any required assembly.
  • Be prepared to do lunch runs and deal with any issues the photographer’s throws in your direction.
  • Being an assistant inherently means you are representing the photographer and as a result manners and curtsy to clients and other contacts is essential.
  • Always arrive on set before the photographer.
  • A certain level of fitness is needed to be a successful assistant. There is a lot of heavy lifting, running about and remaining on your feet all day.
  • Have a good level of understanding with different types of image software and the equipment itself.
  • Use smaller memory cards to spread the images out incase of card corruption.

Benefits of Assisting

  • Become skilled and knowledgable technically.
  • Have an insiders experience of multiple photographer’s.
  • Build a network of contacts.
  • Get experience in different genres of photography.
  • Has the potential to pay well but is also flexible.

How To Get Assisting Work

  • Create an impressive CV.
  • Research the photographer’s you approach.
  • Contact them initially through email (include CV, link to website and complement their work/style.)
  • Photographer’s do not like to be harassed so if they say they are too busy, respect that and ask if there is a better time to discuss.
  • Usually the photographer will want to meet in person before setting up any work relationship to see if you get on well.
  • Do not lie about your capability.
  • Do not tread on the photographer’s toes, approaching their clients without permission is a big NO!
  • Never be star stuck with the clients, you are there to do a job.

Studio Assisting

This is a permanent position that is generally low pay for the amount of hours. To find studio positions look on the AOP website (see below).

Advantages of Studio Assisting over Freelance:

  • Opportunity to meet a lot of different photographers.
  • Get extensive experience with a variety of equipment.
  • It is easier to make contacts through a big studio rather than a single photographer.

How to Begin

  • Invest in a good quality portfolio.
  • Create a good website.
  • Be concise in your image choice, make sure you stick with a specific style. Do not show a bit of everything in one place, create separate portfolios.
  • Be prepared to do test shoots for free.
  • Decide on your genre and stick with it.
  • Play the game; do not go around upsetting people within the industry as you don’t know who will end up being successful and could benefit you later on in life.

Other Recommended Websites:

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