Celebrity Photographer Jesse Dittmar’s Advice to Assistants

Posted by on Thursday December 14, 2017 | Business

There are assistants who get a lot of work, and assistants who don’t.  Celebrity photographer Jesse Dittmar sheds light on the difference, explaining how assistants can please the photographers who hire them, and get called back for more work:

Livelihoods and a lot of money are at stake on photo shoots, he says. “It’s not play time, it’s not, hey, I get to meet all these cool celebrities. It’s real work.

“Your job is to do everything in your power to make the shoot easier, and help the photographer you’re working for make the pictures better.” He goes on to explain that you can’t do those things if you’re on set taking pictures behind the scenes, posting to Instagram, texting your friends, flirting with models, looking over the client’s shoulder, or engaging in any other tempting distractions. He says, “A lot of [young assistants] are looking more than doing, and that gets old quick.”

For young assistants, it is especially tempting to look over the digital tech’s shoulder. “A lot of people want to see Polaroids and I was one of those guys. You see the lights around you, and you’re like, ‘Oh my god, what does that look like [in the picture]? It’s a natural desire to have, especially if you’re trying to learn,” Dittmar says. “Looking over the digital tech’s and the photographer’s shoulders to make a decision about how to change the lighting–that’s not your job. You’re not working if you’re looking at the images.”

For more tips from Dittmar and other photographers, see: 9 Tips for Getting Hired (and Re-Hired) As a Photo Assistant

Related:
From Assistant to Photographer: How Jesse Dittmar Launched His Portrait Photography Career
What Paul Costello Learned Assisting Ellen von Unwerth
Art Streiber on Why Sharing Knowledge and Techniques Openly Benefits Him—and Photography
PhotoPlus Expo: Getting Your Career Off the Ground


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