What exactly does an assistant photographer do? What does he bring to the table at a wedding? Since I receive such questions quite often, I decided to write a short article explaining why an assistant photographer is a valuable asset to the wedding photographer and why his/her help is necessary.
The importance of an assistant photographer.
TAKING CARE OF THE EQUIPMENT
It is not professional to leave a backpack full of expensive lenses, cameras and other stuff lying unattended around. Some of the equipment could inadvertently get damaged or worse. When it comes to weddings, photographers need to focus all their attention on the task at hand – taking great photographs. If I want to move fast, run among the wedding guests, quickly get into strenuous poses and take creative shots, I simply cannot preoccupy myself with thinking about my equipment nor can I carry heavy bags with me the entire day. This is where an assistant photographer comes into play. An assistant photographer takes care of everything: carries and sets up equipment, cleans lenses, passes batteries, cards or anything else that needs to be switched. This way, everything runs smoother, quicker and the entire experience is more pleasing not only for me but also for the bride and groom.
STYLIZING (GROUP) PORTRAITS
When it comes to wedding portraits, the photographer needs to concentrate on the composition, light, or work with the expressions of the newlyweds. The assistant on the other hand pays more attention to minor details such as unbuttoned shirts, suits and other imperfections. When doing bridal or couple portraits, the assistant helps out by holding the bride's veil, adjusting her dress or holding the bouquet. The photographer does not have to run over to the bride and back constantly and can fully concentrate on the most important thing – shooting portraits. As for group shots, the photographer and the assistant can split the work. The photographer concentrates on the composition, adjusting the subjects' expressions or poses and makes sure that no one blinks in the photographs. Again, the assistant looks for the little things. The devil is in the detail. He may ask the guests to adjust their ties, shirts, do up undone buttons, hold their phones or sunglasses so that they do not stick out of their pockets unattractively. From a practical point of view, it is not possible for a single photographer to pay attention to everything without the photoshoot taking forever.
LIGHTING, EFFECTS AND STYLIZATION OF THE SCENE
Whether it's holding an external flash, reflectors or diffusers, it's often not possible for a photographer to light and shoot at the same time. For example, you need to illuminate a scene from an angle and height that does not allow one person to do so. The assistant can also be at hand when performing various effects with sparklers, lights, objects in front of the lens, etc.
TAKES CARE OF MARKETING AND PR
Although networking is desirable for future collaborations, as a photographer I don't have much time for it. Whether it's wedding guests looking for a photographer for their future wedding, or the suppliers themselves (make-up artists, coordinators, florists, confectioners or DJs) who would like to cooperate in the future, my thoughts often revolve only around photography. For this reason, an assistant is a valuable asset. He can represent me, exchange a few words with the people in question, get to know them, or exchange business cards. The assistant can also take photos or videos from the venues and their surroundings or take a shot of my humble self for PR purposes.
PREVENTING ACCIDENTS FROM HAPPENING
Even though it may sound funny, hitting a tree, tripping over a stone or falling into a swimming pool may not end up well for the photographer. Injuries, and damages to the camera may follow in such situations and that is never fun. Sometimes, I may disregard any sense of danger when in the heat of taking photographs or going backwards in front of the newlyweds. This is where an assistant photographer saves the day. He watches out for my steps and stops me in case I might injure myself or someone else. He also carries water in case I get thirsty or my hair catches fire.
MENTAL SUPPORT, DRIVER, CATERING
I always bring an assistant who can support and encourage me mentally during the wedding day. In addition, it's priceless to have someone with you who can take the wheel at the end of the wedding day and drive us home when I am too tired. This help is extremely useful when it comes to more remote trips that take us more than 3 hours to drive back home. Last but not least, I must not forget the fact that the assistant takes care of the photographer's fluid intake and keeps him refreshed. Thanks to that, I don't have to take that many refreshment breaks because I have everything at hand.
WHAT IS NOT IN THE ASSISTANT'S JOB DESCRIPTION?
An assistant photographer is by no means a photographer. If you have not ordered a second photographer, you cannot ask the assistant to take any photos or shots. The assistant is present at the wedding exclusively for the reasons stated above. However, if you want to take a photograph, you can notify the assistant and he will let me know ASAP.