Why You Should Never ‘Hire’ a Photography Assistant For Free


There are countless discussions about working for free in the photo industry and many points both for and against the practice.  This is here is not a debate on the ethics of “hiring” someone for free or the dilemma of portfolio-building that most every newcomer faces.  This is about how bringing someone along on a shoot without pay can screw over your business.

While trolling Reddit, I stumbled across a post by a sincere photographer new to the game who was offering to work as a second shooter without pay.  At first, I was struck with admiration for someone who is so willing to “pay their dues.”  In today’s world of self-entitlement, it is refreshing to see humility like this.  However, my next thought overruled it:  “How dangerous could this be to me as a photography business owner?”

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Hiring An Assistant Without Jeopardizing Your Business


Sooner or later, most of us photographers find ourselves in need of an extra set of hands or feet for a particular project, whether it’s a second shooter (no JFK jokes, please) at a wedding, managing gear and lighting on a commercial shoot, or stabilizing the flower balanced on top of a rocking horse sitting inside an adorable bathtub for that oh-so-cute newborn shoot. Most new photographers and sole proprietors, myself included on numerous occasions in the past, think nothing of pulling in a friend or relative to help out in their time of need. And while that may be fine for personal projects, having that modus operandi in your business can get you into some hot water. I’m not talking about how nice it is to have someone to share the work or how cool it is to refer to someone as “my assistant” (which, admittedly, is pretty awesome…until they break something); I’m talking about, when you DO pull someone else in to help out, making sure that all legal ramifications are met and you do not sign your business’ death warrant.

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VAL: Out! Drone Lighting: In! Drones Used As Lighting Stands


A team of researchers from MIT and Cornell are expected to present a protype of a drone they have been developing specifically designed to ease the task of ‘holding lights’ this August. To be clear, drones have already been used by numerous photographers and filmmakers as a way to light scenes, but this particular drone has a couple interesting abilities that help set it apart from the crowd. The most incredible being it’s ability to detect motion of the camera and subject before automatically correcting it’s own position to provide consistent lighting.
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How to Be a Great Photo Assistant

I think I entered a photographer’s rite of passage a while back when I started receiving inquiries from new photographers wanting a job as either my assistant or my intern. It was a flattering and surreal experience for me, particularly in light of the fact that I can name several photographers for whom I’d do just about anything for a chance to assist, even if just for a day.


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