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Thread: Understudying professional photographers?

  1. #21
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    Default Re: Understudying professional photographers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jed View Post
    I am writing this with the understanding that you are looking at going professional in the longer term. Exposure to a professional environment is not necessarily bad, but I would strongly recommend you get your photographic foundations sorted first. You might already have, I don't know, it depends on what exactly you mean by "very new".

    Otherwise it might be a bit like learning to be a driving instructor without knowing how to drive first.
    Basics firmly rooted very quickly when I got my first camera just a year back, I learn fast and the only thing I'm clouded about right now is the commercial/studio workflow, lighting, studio flash and studio light setups. The only way I can learn the latter is by handling them first-hand, books aren't enough and the real thing is usually quite different from the books.

    Anyways, now I'm pretty lost with limited contacts, unsure where to find the professional photographers...

  2. #22

    Default Re: Understudying professional photographers?

    Quote Originally Posted by ed9119 View Post
    JacePhoto this is SO true with some of these aspiring assistants ....... totally feel for you.

    Thats why its SO important for BOTH mentor and apprentice to choose each other carefully and not just take any walk-in wannabe because of the cheap labor

    The worst are those who apprentice halfway and just walk off and quit without notice when they lost interest ....

    Just dump them if the commitment to seriously apprencitce is not there......

    EVERYTHING ELSE MUST take a back seat (maybe except bereavements in the immediate family) otherwise dont waste other people's time and effort

    Passion, great attitude, discipline, perseverance, immense patience and commitment are not easy qualities to find in one person.

    Many wannabes think it's a glam job, which it sometimes can be, but for the most part, it's a grueling job.

    You know Ed, you list Initiative as your first point on what makes a good assistant, among the other excellent points.

    That's where so many fail even before they begin.
    Last edited by Dream Merchant; 26th February 2010 at 05:15 PM.

  3. #23
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    Default Re: Understudying professional photographers?

    1) Bubble bursting time: After a single year you are still a very green novice. Most professionals will find you a complete and utter burden until you are of value to them, either as a pack horse or for setting up gear. You'll be far better off finding a good amateur to mentor you at your stage of likely development. Do not expect to be taught anything by a pro, you can expect to be yelled at a lot if you don't know what you are doing. PA's are usually very good amateur photographers in their own right who are learning the trade.

    2) Pick your mentor carefully, you want someone who has the time to tear your shots to pieces, shred them and your ideas, it's not pretty but it works wonders if you are receptive and astute enough to understand that in the long term you will gain more than praise alone will give.

    3) Ed stop nicking my "starving artist" line

    4) Nothing and I repeat nothing beats learning to be your own harshest critic. Aim for a keeper ratio of at least 90% and aim for shots that require little or no post processing to stand alone as a good image. When you can do that repeatably on any subject that you are interested in then you'll be ready to progress to the next level.

    5) Get out there and get on with it.
    The Ang Moh from Hell
    Professional Photography - many are called, few are chosen!

  4. #24
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    Default Re: Understudying professional photographers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian View Post
    1) Bubble bursting time: After a single year you are still a very green novice. Most professionals will find you a complete and utter burden until you are of value to them, either as a pack horse or for setting up gear. You'll be far better off finding a good amateur to mentor you at your stage of likely development. Do not expect to be taught anything by a pro, you can expect to be yelled at a lot if you don't know what you are doing. PA's are usually very good amateur photographers in their own right who are learning the trade.

    2) Pick your mentor carefully, you want someone who has the time to tear your shots to pieces, shred them and your ideas, it's not pretty but it works wonders if you are receptive and astute enough to understand that in the long term you will gain more than praise alone will give.

    3) Ed stop nicking my "starving artist" line

    4) Nothing and I repeat nothing beats learning to be your own harshest critic. Aim for a keeper ratio of at least 90% and aim for shots that require little or no post processing to stand alone as a good image. When you can do that repeatably on any subject that you are interested in then you'll be ready to progress to the next level.

    5) Get out there and get on with it.
    Thanks for the advice Ian, I'll take note of them.

    Now a question, where can I find 'mentors' as you mentioned? ... They must be a rare find

  5. #25
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    Default Re: Understudying professional photographers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Yoricko View Post
    Basics firmly rooted very quickly when I got my first camera just a year back, I learn fast and the only thing I'm clouded about right now is the commercial/studio workflow, lighting, studio flash and studio light setups. The only way I can learn the latter is by handling them first-hand, books aren't enough and the real thing is usually quite different from the books.

    Anyways, now I'm pretty lost with limited contacts, unsure where to find the professional photographers...
    When you're assisting you're not shooting. Basics aren't of much use, lighting is impt 'cos you need to be able to understand what the photographer wants when he says something. You're there to help make the process smoother, think ahead of the photographer on what he needs next and take care of it. You have to be very fast on your feet, fast, accurate and careful. Very careful, can't go around breaking your boss's lights and client's vases. All photographers troubleshoot on the spot, so the assistant needs to think as fast as well. I've been at it for almost 1 year now, and I still can't think fast enough, maybe you're younger so it's easier. hah.

    If lighting is an issue then I suggest you rent a studio with a friend for a few hours and familiar yourself with the equipment and their lighting effects. Honeycomb grids, softboxes, umbrellas, bouncing all give different effects. Have a plan on what to experiment on, play with lighting ratios and angles, bring in different materials like black velvet, chrome, etc and try and figure out how lighting plays its part.

    And I kid you not, but learning the proper way to clean various materials, how to iron different cloths is also an added value service, especially for photographers who shoot much product. Cleaning is an important aspect of assisting, you clean before you even set the lights.

    How about you make a visit to PPAS website and try contacting the photographers there. Do some research on what they shoot and see if you like their work. My advise is that you look for a small studio or those 1 person outfit. The pressure to perform is much greater but you learn so much more, whereas in big studios there are already multiple assistants and as the newbie, all you'll get to touch are cleaning materials and winding up power cords.

    You'll get scolded a lot initially, but as long as you pick up fast and recognise the photographer's routine, you should lessen the chances of it happening. Unless the photographer's attitude sucks which in that case it's not really your fault, the photographer would know your skill when he/she hired you.

  6. #26
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    Default Re: Understudying professional photographers?

    Quote Originally Posted by foxtwo View Post
    When you're assisting you're not shooting. Basics aren't of much use, lighting is impt 'cos you need to be able to understand what the photographer wants when he says something. You're there to help make the process smoother, think ahead of the photographer on what he needs next and take care of it. You have to be very fast on your feet, fast, accurate and careful. Very careful, can't go around breaking your boss's lights and client's vases. All photographers troubleshoot on the spot, so the assistant needs to think as fast as well. I've been at it for almost 1 year now, and I still can't think fast enough, maybe you're younger so it's easier. hah.

    If lighting is an issue then I suggest you rent a studio with a friend for a few hours and familiar yourself with the equipment and their lighting effects. Honeycomb grids, softboxes, umbrellas, bouncing all give different effects. Have a plan on what to experiment on, play with lighting ratios and angles, bring in different materials like black velvet, chrome, etc and try and figure out how lighting plays its part.

    And I kid you not, but learning the proper way to clean various materials, how to iron different cloths is also an added value service, especially for photographers who shoot much product. Cleaning is an important aspect of assisting, you clean before you even set the lights.

    How about you make a visit to PPAS website and try contacting the photographers there. Do some research on what they shoot and see if you like their work. My advise is that you look for a small studio or those 1 person outfit. The pressure to perform is much greater but you learn so much more, whereas in big studios there are already multiple assistants and as the newbie, all you'll get to touch are cleaning materials and winding up power cords.

    You'll get scolded a lot initially, but as long as you pick up fast and recognise the photographer's routine, you should lessen the chances of it happening. Unless the photographer's attitude sucks which in that case it's not really your fault, the photographer would know your skill when he/she hired you.
    All the information I need, thanks a lot!

    Somehow it reminds me of this old book I've read when I was quite young about being a photographer's assistant. Especially the value-added part. If the photographer needs something, you must be there to provide the stuff he needs before he can even think about it ...

    Think I'll have antoher go at the library again, thanks again!

    Cleared up the fog and made the path visible again.

  7. #27
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    Default Re: Understudying professional photographers?

    Overall, I agree with Jed.

    Let me share with you a experience I had about 24-36 hours ago.

    I am in my third year at Brooks Institute of Photography in the US. Supposedly one of the most reputed schools in photography in the US and the world. I had a opportunity to assist a big time commercial shooter named Jim Jordan.

    I felt that I didn't live up to his expectations but basically I was kind of his runner for the most part of his shoot. The reason why I didn't live up to his expectations is that for 3 of his shots. He required his models to be jogging/running in 10 degree Pacific Ocean water. Another student assistant and myself were holding a fill card running along the model making sure that the fill card is properly filling in shadows on the model as he was taking the shots.

    Now if you can do that and are willing to do it, you are contributing significantly to the shoot. I couldn't keep up and got scolded to some degree.

    That is how hard it is. Frankly speaking shooting as a 2nd shooter is chicken feet. If you want to know how good you are generally speaking, start posting your images up in foreign websites and look at how other people around the world shoots.

    If you need me to help you critique your shots, let me know through PM. I'll arrange a time with you online.

  8. #28

    Default Re: Understudying professional photographers?

    Best way to find a mentor: visit websites until u found something that inspire u. Not just one or two Images but the whole website.

    Send an email with ur best shots. I mean BEST shots and tell them why and hopefully you get an answer. If u don't then try again.

    Thats how i got my first mentor who is one of the top 10 guy in wedding industry in sydney.

    Of course, that is after 2 years of learning and running my phototgraphy studio and learn everything by myself And attending camera club.

    You dont learn anything technical from a pro as they have forgotten those technical aspect but what u can learn is how they get the shots.

    When i first started, he always ask, what do u see?

    It is a scary question as it is embarrasing when u dont "see" it. So you force yourself very very hard to "see".

    Until you are good enough, it is a burden to the pro.

    The most fulfilling things abt photography is when u get what u "see".

    So make sure you are ready and know what u want in photographu before u start looking for a mentor.

    If u r unsure if you want to go pro or not, u r not ready.

    If u still need to learn how to do a setting n strugle with lighting, u r not ready.

    Lets face it, it is a lot easier for a pro to do their own work rather than have to drag someone around.

    If u need something from someone, u will need to have something to give. Your time and free labor generally not a good bargainning chip unfortunately.

    So have that in mind.

    Attitude, willingness to learn is not a requirement but a basic attribute to get started by yourself. Not so something u pitch to get a favor.

    Hart
    Last edited by Agetan; 27th February 2010 at 01:47 PM.

  9. #29
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    Default Re: Understudying professional photographers?

    i must say..... this thread is a heck of a lot better than the 'I want to be a war photographer' thread
    Last edited by ed9119; 1st March 2010 at 04:18 PM.
    shaddap and just shoot .... up close
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  10. #30

    Default Re: Understudying professional photographers?

    Since you like photograhpy, why cant you looking for a job which you interested in. The most importmant thing is you get your PAID. If you do have a chance to work with chris ling, treasure it.....

  11. #31
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    Default Re: Understudying professional photographers?

    The PPAS is launching their handbook and having an exhibition at the National Library Lvl 8 from 26 Mar to 17 Apr. Each photographer is showcasing 2-3 of their best work. I strongly recommend anyone to head down with a notepad in hand and start jotting down names & contacts. I got a sneak peek the other day and yes I was wowed.

    http://www.clubsnap.com/forums/showthread.php?t=668930

  12. #32

    Default Re: Understudying professional photographers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian View Post
    1) Bubble bursting time: After a single year you are still a very green novice. Most professionals will find you a complete and utter burden until you are of value to them, either as a pack horse or for setting up gear. You'll be far better off finding a good amateur to mentor you at your stage of likely development. Do not expect to be taught anything by a pro, you can expect to be yelled at a lot if you don't know what you are doing. PA's are usually very good amateur photographers in their own right who are learning the trade.

    This is so damn true.. especially the yelling part. I used to try and control myself but at the end of almost every assignment (in the past) I'd end up blowing my top.

    Much better nowadays.. learnt to shut-the-!@#$ up and be more patient. And yeah, they learn FAST when there is pressure.

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