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Intro & Assist

June 19, 2008

While reading my excerpts it’s important to remember this book is written for brides to be and photographers to be.

Congratulations and welcome to the world of planning a wedding.

This book is not meant to answer all your questions about wedding planning. I am certainly not a professional wedding planner! This book is meant to tell you the things about weddings no one else wants to talk about. It not controversial, at least I don’t think so. It has lots of nice photos, real wedding stories, and is told by an unbiased wedding photographer who has seen it all when it comes to weddings. I want to prepare you for a real wedding not a fantasy. There are lots of other fantasy books written to help prepare the big day. I believe if you are reading this you are already aware that weddings don’t always go as planned. You’re looking for someone to tell you the real story. What you are about to read are true life stories from the point of view of a photographer.

And to introduce my next wedding couple here is another excerpt from the ‘Pre-Chapters’.

Assistants

Assistants. This can be a touchy subject. When a wedding client pays lots of money for photographs they want to be sure they are getting quality professionals to photograph their wedding. I fully understand this. However, the bride and groom should hire their photographer and leave the photographer to choose a good assistant. It is a common thought among brides, grooms and in-laws that the assistant needs to be:

– an educated photographer

– of a particular age

– a photographer whether good or bad, experienced or not

But let me tell you what I believe the actual requirements of a good assistant is. Also remember that the photographer is the one who actually pays their assistant from their own income. The client is not paying the assistant directly.

I hire an assistant because:

A. I need someone to help carry my gear. Photography gear is not only very expensive but very heavy. And it’s next to impossible to be a dynamic photographer when you have a large, heavy bag on your shoulder. Needless to say this will also wear a photographer out very quickly. With 10 hour wedding days, this is not a good idea.

B. They can quickly pass my water. My assistant will have a bottle of water on hand (as long as I remember to grab it out of my fridge that morning). My assistant can take the cap off and pass the water so that I only have to stop long enough to take a few sips. This also assures the safety of my eqipment. I wouldn’t want to have to juggle my camera, all my gear and a bottle of water.

C. Assistants are great at organizing memory cards and handing me a new one in a second’s notice. I use to keep my memory cards with me all day. I like to use several smalle cards rather then one big card, now this can get a little confusing, especially if for some reason the day is not going smooth. It didn’t take me long to figure out that my assistant was in much better shape to hold my cards and keep them organzed so that he/she can quickly hand my empty ones over and put my full cards safely away.

D. Creative input. Not every assistant I had was good at this but I like to hire someone that I trust creatively. My best assistant was in no way a photographer, but she was an artist that has a lot of creative input in all of my work. Once we had worked together a few times she was able to remind of things to do with the couple as well as come up with new ideas on the spot. This lessoned my responsibility and let me concentrate on taking a great photo rather then thinking of new ideas.

E. Moral support when things go awry. Something going wrong has a variety of meanings, it could mean my flash died, I used up all my memory cards early, or I asked an ex-wife to stand with the ex-husband. It helps me gain my composure and confidence when I can chat to my trusted assistant about what is happening. She can give me moral support and this helps me go on taking great photos without having to stress the bride.

Not all assistants do a great job. And you have to go through a few doozy’s before you find a real gem. Here are a few short stories about the assistants I had to go through before I found my gems.

A. Sleep. She practically fell asleep in a corner and I couldn’t find her when my memory card was full. To make matters worst I was shooting family photos inside a dark hotel with a family who didn’t take direction well. I had the family finally gathered and ready with no memory card. This assistant later became my first photography apprentice and a great assistant as she learned to be a photographer herself.

B. Marriage. I had a great assistant who happened to be my roommate for about three years. We were both single at the time. At one wedding a groomsmen decided to take a liking to my assistant. However his wife and young daughter were also at the wedding. I can’t say I have any tips on how to handle that one.

C. Double Take. I asked a fellow photographer to help me out one day. And since she liked to photograph I told her to feel free to take some shots of her own and I would pay her extra. Well, though she was always at hand with my memory cards she practically stayed behind me all day and photographed over my shoulder. This meant she got exactly the photos I was getting…I was pretty much paying her to do my VERY job.

D. Best of the Best. The best assistant I ever had was one that was not a photographer. Every great point an assistant could have came together in her. She was very creative and a really great friend. She needed the extra money, she loved my work and was very excited to see how I did it. She had lots of great ideas to help me think during the day . I could concentrate on the photo I was taking and knew she would be thinking of something I could do in case I drew a blank. This helped me be way less stressed and really enjoy the day more. Plus when we left at the end of the day I had someone to debrief with. She was great and certainly worth more than I paid her. I miss her at my side still.

There may be some photographers out there with the ability to do all of this on their own AND manage to get the bride and groom some amazing wedding photos. But with my experience I’m not sure I would hire them. Maybe I’m just an uncoordinated, lazy photographer…

‘THE BEST OF THE BEST’ Assistant is the bride of my next wedding story.

My Former Assistant

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. B'lah permalink
    June 19, 2008 5:3 3

    Beautiful bride, however, yesterday’s winter wedding was beautiful!

  2. Blair permalink
    June 21, 2008 5:3 3

    the Best of the Best is my assistant now… all MINE! hee hee i’m keeping her

  3. candace permalink
    July 1, 2008 5:3 3

    Whether rain or shine, hot hot hot summer days, technical difficulties, or stressed out brides,grooms, or parents, an emergency chocolate bar goes a long way! I think it was the snickers bar that we prefered, it has peanuts. Which in our estimation was “healthy”. I believe water and chocolate we two staples we always had on hand.

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