ASMP Workshop for Photographer’s Assistants
May 24, 2017 - Photographer’s rely on their assistants like surgeons rely on support staff in an operating room. When communication is smooth they work well together and the shoot goes off without a hitch. The results are great and their clients are happy with the photos. The job of the assistant is to make the photographer’s life easier. They do this by setting up and keeping an eye on the gear and helping to solve problems on the set as they arise.
While most photo assistants learn their craft on the job, The ASMP put on a formal workshop designed to teach the basics of assisting on a photo shoot. The workshop was held at the TEXCAM facility in Bellaire, TX and was well worth the $75 entry fee (which included lunch and refreshments).
The session was led by Michael Klein, perhaps the most renown Photo Assistant in the Houston area – if you have any doubt, just check out his website: www.michaelkleinphotoassistantvideogripsoundguy.com/ . He has assisted on shoots for many of the top commercial photographers in town. His certifications allow him to work in construction environments and overseas. Michael is the kind of guy you would trust to pack your parachute.
Working with Michael was Travis Scheibel, an accomplished Photo Assistant who also shared his tips, tools and techniques with the class. He is also a bit of a Renaissance Man being a licensed drone operator, digitech, and repairs mac computers. This six footer can hop up on the back of a Grip Truck lift like most of us walk up the stairs. He is in great shape and can easily handle the 12+ hour days that may happen on a shoot.
Michael began the session by introducing the other members of the panel which included:
- Michael Hart (Photographer)
- Robert Seale (Photographer)
- Nathan Lindstrom (Photographer)
- Travis Scheibel (Photo Assistant)
Over the next 8 hours, each member of the panel shared their personal experience and their knowledge of what is required to be a great photo assistant. They demonstrated by using the equipment they work with every day. They also discussed the softer points of the profession including set etiquette, special oil & gas certifications, traveling, working offshore and even how to charge for your services. The workshop group included students from beginners to well-seasoned professionals. In every case, the instructors took the time to explain the industry terminology to the newbies, and shared some of their advanced techniques with those who have been in the business for many years.
Some Photo Assistants see their job as a path to becoming a professional photographer, while others are just fine in their support roles. Photo Assistants must be willing to learn, be organized and know how to operate digital cameras and lighting equipment. They check the gear before and after the shoot. They anticipate the needs of the photographers, can evaluated potential problems and solve any that come up during the shoot. They are typically good communicators, and pay attention to detail.
Michael and Travis were kind enough to share their grip bags with the group. Each was filled with everything from Gaffers tape, to bungie cords, from zip ties to strobe meters. It would make any Boy Scout or even MacGyver himself proud.
I would highly recommend this course to anyone who is considering working with or becoming a professional photographer. If you are looking for an assistant on a photo shoot, you can check out the search feature on the ASMP Site here: http://www.asmphouston.org/find-an-assistant