In the title above, the word “Professional” refers to the assistant.
In the U.S., photographers’ assistants may be employees of studios, but often times, they are freelancers, working for different photographers on per project basis.
This is a usual path for those aspiring to turn pro at some future date, although some may stay as freelance assistants, especially if they are popular with photographers and are fully-booked. Or, if they are still students or can’t afford the investment in equipment and facilities needed to offer their services as professional photographers.
In the Philippines, independent photographers’ assistants are usually those who shoot at weddings, and are called “second or third shooters.” Those who work in advertising or portrait photography studios are usually regular employees. If they are lucky, they could get trained and mentored by the studio’s main photographers so that someday, they could become photographers themselves.
At Adphoto, we have four photographers. From time to time, when they have simultaneous shoots, they have a short supply of assistants. Often, we bring in even houseboys to help at shoots. But that’s not the ideal situation.
It would be good if we could call on independent photographers’ assistants. However, while there are many whom we could get as temporary assistants– especially with today’s oversupply of aspiring photographers – we are unable to hire them because they are not registered as a business, and cannot give us official receipts for the payment that they would receive from us.
I have been wondering and wishing that those who want to get into professional photography but are not ready to do so would first get into professional assisting. This means that they would register their business – the business title does not have to be as a photographer’s assistant (or assistant photographer, if this is the title that they prefer) – it could be a registered name that they could continue to use when they turn full pro. The easiest way is to register as a sole proprietorship. Unlike corporations that require a minimum of five incorporators, a sole proprietorship means just that – solo, one, alone.
Armed with a business personality, license and official receipts, they could offer their services to studios like ours, or to other photographers. They could get exposed to the work of different photographers – wedding, fashion, portrait, landscape, editorial, aerial and even become known as specialists in the particular genre that they would like to pursue.
Be a professional photographer’s assistant, anyone?