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Thread: the drudgery of day job

  1. #1

    Default the drudgery of day job

    Hi all,

    I'm wondering how one can jumpstart a career in photography.

    Is it easy gaining employment as a female photography assistant?
    - I think as assistant, most photographers prefer those who know how to drive. Right?
    - Can carry equipments, right?
    - What other qualities do the professionals look for in an assistant?

    Or should I pursue higher education in photography (bachelor in arts etc etc)?
    I'm already undergoing some training in photojournalism and professional photography. But I doubt that is enough.
    - Will going for paper qualifications make it easier for me to gain employment as a photographer for editorial magazines, press houses?
    - Or should I pursue something in say, Sociology? Mostly because it interests me, as well as nurtures your train of thought.

    I am contemplating a career switch. The sooner the better.

    I figure I'd be happier doing something related to photography before I become too old to make a change.
    Or at least, I should try.

    Advice please.
    Last edited by Yayne; 22nd February 2007 at 02:25 PM.

  2. #2

    Default Re: the drudgery of day job

    Hi,

    I am going to try to be as positive as possible and yet give you a reality check. I'll try to answer each of your questions based on my experience(s):

    Is it easy gaining employment as a female photography assistant?
    I think gender should not be an issue, but realistically speaking it does.
    To answer this question, I would say it is, yes, but not impossible. You have to prove yourself.

    - I think as assistant, most photographers prefer those who know how to drive. Right?
    Not a must but it would definitely be an advantage.

    - Can carry equipments, right?
    Bear in mind that photo equipment can get heavy, although strength is not everything, technique. You need to know how to work smart, use physics to your advantage. For example, why carry something heavy when you can use an equipment cart to move the gear, why kill yourself in the process.

    - What other qualities do the professionals look for in an assistant?
    For me, some photographic knowledge, no attitude(regardless of whether you have any formal education or not), a willingness to learn, have to perform under pressure, common sense, everything that is asked of you while on a job has a sense of urgency(don't take your time when asked to do something), sense of humour, ability to put up with crap from the photographer/client, being professional on the job, there are alot more things that I could list, but I can't think of them right now.

    Or should I pursue higher education in photography (bachelor in arts etc etc)?
    Well, this one is really up to you whether you can afford it. It definitely is a steppng stone, it would probably take you less time to pick up stuff since you would have already learned the basics. But nothing beats learning on the job, you learn stuff on the job that they don't teach in school. It also depends on what kind of photography you want to get into. Certain schools, in the US, are better for certain areas of photography. If you can really afford it, and have a portfolio good enough to get in is, Art Center College of Design in Pasadena.

    I think the education has given me a broader appreciation for art in general, learning about other mediums, ceramic, painting, neon, sculpture, helps with undestanding form and lighting.

    The key to your education in photography is to find a good school that will suite your needs. And if you decide to work for someone and forgoing the education, is to find a good mentor. Alittle difficult to find in Singapore, so you have to go do your homework and find out if the photographer you want to work for is the one that would make a good mentor.

    I'm already undergoing some training in photojournalism and professional photography. But I doubt that is enough.
    - Will going for paper qualifications make it easier for me to gain employment as a photographer for editorial magazines, press houses?
    Not really, I think the porfolio is the key to getting jobs with those businesses. I think they'll look at your education but I doubt if it'll make much of an imact if you have a really impressive book.

    - Or should I pursue something in say, Sociology? Mostly because it interests me, as well as nurtures your train of thought.
    This one, i'm not gonna touch, it's all up to you. Which one do you want more?

    I am contemplating a career switch. The sooner the better.

    I figure I'd be happier doing something related to photography before I become too old to make a change.

    Go with your heart/passion.


    Or at least, I should try.

    Advice please. [/QUOTE]


    I hope this helped.

    Good luck with your decision.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: the drudgery of day job

    Quote Originally Posted by hondasleeper View Post
    Not really, I think the porfolio is the key to getting jobs with those businesses. I think they'll look at your education but I doubt if it'll make much of an imact if you have a really impressive book.
    I agree with hondasleeper about the importance of having an impressive portfolio. The earlier you start on the road to acquire the better.

  4. #4

    Default Re: the drudgery of day job

    Quote Originally Posted by Yayne View Post
    I am contemplating a career switch. The sooner the better.

    Advice please.
    Hello Yayne,

    Hondasleeper has answered most of your questions. One of the big questions however is whether professional photography can support your lifestyle. You have to do your very math carefully and make sure you are not jumping from the frying pan into the fire. The job you have now might be extremely mundane but if it gives your family and you a comfortable life, going to full-time photography might not be the best thing to do. A good compromise might be part-time photography, it could be more fun and rewarding artistically. Here's a link to some research that i did earlier and compiled.

    http://forums.clubsnap.org/showthrea...ey#post2793890

    Best regards
    Wesley
    Last edited by wesley; 23rd February 2007 at 12:57 AM.

  5. #5

    Default Re: the drudgery of day job

    To add to what has been said and what I have already mentioned.

    The going is not going to be easy. It is an uphill battle. Yes, the movies have made photography to be real glamorous, but what actually goes on and what it takes getting there they don't show. Unless you are willing to weather the storm, as someone said you are better off doing photography part-time, as an additional source of income.

    Honestly, unless you are willing to sacrifice a minimum of 2-3 years of your life getting minimum wage or less doing really tough, what may seem to you meaningless, mindless work, don't do it. Glamour aside, the road to being a "professional photographer" is not easy. As I mentioned before, you need to find a good mentor to work for in order to learn anything worth it.

    One word of advice, if you have a chip on your shoulder, get rid of it!!! Or someone will knock it off for you. And someone will definitely do it.

    I have come across diploma grads from Lasalle, thinking that just because they have a diploma that they know everything there is to know about photography, but in actuality they know nothing. Taking out the trash is beneath them...blah, blah blah. If you came to work for me with that kind of atitude, your butt would be hitting the kerb so fast you wouldn't even have time to say WTF.

    Another thing I want to mention is that certain personalities are suited for something like photography. You may be technically excellent in photography but have the personality as dry as a stale piece of bread, you might not make it, but then again it all depends on which area you want to persue in photography. In this case, you might want to specialize in an area you don't have to deal with people too much, like architecture or product. I hope you get what I mean. Certain personalities are suited for certain types of photography.

    But having said that, photographers are a weird bunch. Trust me I know enough of them and being one of them, I know.

  6. #6

    Default Re: the drudgery of day job

    hi hondasleeper and wesley,


    i really appreciate that.

    lifestyle is a matter of change. you spend what you earn. when you earn more than what you spend, that is a bonus. not necessity.

    just age catching up and not wanting to lose time that is all. just trying to decide between a photography school or a major that will compliment work as a photographer. international center for photography is a good place, but that is way out of my league. thanks for taking the time to share your views.
    Last edited by Yayne; 23rd February 2007 at 04:29 AM.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: the drudgery of day job

    The part-time route Wes and hondasleeper have mentioned is a sound one. It gives you time to learn and to find out whether you have the stamina and ability to make photography a full-time income.

    I did the part-time thing for 6 years and took the plunge to do full-time 10 months ago. I really needed more time and energy to spend in commercial photography if I wanted to make further progress in it. I have learned more and discovered new things in these 10 months.

    Doing photography part-time is not a walk-in-in-park either. It requires a lot of sacrifices and commitment not to mention self-motivation.

    Have I made the right choice? I can tell you now there is no way I want to go back to work for anyone again. I am enjoying the new-found freedom too much.

    You really have to sit down to think deep and crytalize your thoughts and work out the direction and specifics. The earlier you do it the more time you save. We often see someone with starry eyes saying that I want to be a photographer without having an idea what field of photography he/she wants to enter.

    I wish you the best of luck and my departing word is to give yourself plenty of time to grow into a full-time photographer.

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