Guest Blogger: Drew Gurian PART II


Guest Blogger: Drew Gurian PART II

The Importance of Assisting 

By, Drew Gurian

So why should you assist someone, and what does a photo assistant do??

I can never stress enough to a new photographer, young or old, how essential it is to work under another established shooter- whether it be an internship, mentorship, full-time assisting gig, or freelance assisting work.

I can confidently say that even in a 2-month internship I had with Joe, I learned far more practical knowledge than I learned in my entire BFA program.

If you’re trying to seriously get into the photo world, and call yourself a “professional”, it’s absolutely essential to educate yourself, in both a photographic and business sense.  If you don’t do this, I’d argue that you’re hurting the marketplace, and are actively making it harder for every true professional to make a living.  Sounds harsh, but it’s true.

With that said, a huge part of interning and assisting for me, has been to spend a great deal of time with Lynn, our studio manager/producer, learning about contracts, estimates, producing jobs, etc.  Though she’s been working with Joe for nearly 20 years, she originally came from the ad world, as an art buyer, and is an encyclopedia when it comes to running the business.  She recently did a phenomenal guest blog post for Joe on how she produced the recent Nikon D4 campaign we worked on, and is definitely worth a read:

So what does a photo assistant do?  In short, everything.  I’ll start by saying that my own assisting experience is likely a bit different than most other assistants, for a few reasons.  I work as a full-time assistant, while far more assistants are freelancers, so my knowledge base may be somewhat limited, compared to someone who assists for 20 different shooters.  I also work for someone who travels a lot more than your average shooter, so that brings in a whole different set of experiences as well.

On-location, I’m typically setting up and changing lighting and grip, making sure cameras are set up properly, shooting BTS video, and sometimes digital teching.  Once we’re back at the hotel, I have to download and backup all shot cards (in three places), unpack large and small flashes that need recharging, clean sensors, repack for the next day, etc.

When we’re home in the studio (which is maybe 35-40% of the year), I’m doing any and all of the following (along with our two other assistants): Post-production, sending files off to clients, archiving and backing up new work, maintaining cameras and grip gear (i.e.- re-organizing, sending broken items out for repair, etc.), making fine art prints, helping to keep the website/blog updated, office/client meetings, charging batteries (lots, and lots of them), and repacking for the next job, amongst other things.

Since I started with Joe in September 2008, I’ve logged several hundred thousand frequent flier miles on Delta.  It’s most definitely a crazy lifestyle, but it’s a perfect match for where I am, both personally and professionally right now- and I’m incredibly fortunate to have had some amazing experiences over the past few years.

There’s still a few more posts to come in this series, but if you missed “Part One: Starting out in the Photo World”, you can check it out here: