5 Reasons Why Being a Photography Assistant Is Worth It

5 Reasons Why Being a Photography Assistant Is Worth It

Last week we spoke with Drew Gurian, first and full-time photography assistant to internationally acclaimed photographer Joe McNally. For the past four years, Drew has become quite the multitasker – assisting Joe on everything from shooting the world’s largest telescope for National Geographic, to staying up all night to take 3-hour long exposures in the middle of the desert, to video recording a behind-the-scenes look at Joe shooting a very big but gentle elephant under a circus tent.

Capturing Joe McNally as he rises up in a crane to shoot the world's largest telescope for National Geographic.

Drew Gurian and two other members of Joe McNally's team try to keep warm out in the desert as they shoot hour-long exposures.

Drew Gurian shoots behind-the-scenes video at a shoot under a circus tent.

We learned all about the setup, gear, and technique that Joe McNally, Drew Gurian, and the rest of the team used during these shots. But perhaps more importantly, over the course of the hour video interview below, Drew outlined his five main reasons why working as a photography assistant is worth it.

Here are a few of our notes:

  1. Soak up the photographer’s knowledge and expertise – in Joe’s case, his incredible way with lighting.
  2. Enjoy the security of a full-time job when assisting, while still making time to cultivate your personal style.
  3. Take advantage of all the networking opportunities when working with an established photographer, and build your confidence working with clients.
  4. If you have the chance to travel with the photographer, make sure that you utilize the time to shoot for your own portfolio – you might not get to go there again!
  5. Remember that your experience working on set is key to learning what to expect in the photo industry, and gives you a leg up when you set out to make it on your own.

You can join Drew Gurian and Joe McNally for a very special workshop on September 11 in New York City as part of Luminance 2012. Joe McNally is holding two limited-seating workshops, along with Robert Seale, Zack Arias, and Brian Smith. Find out more about the workshop and the 26 speakers at the conference the following day – including Facebook, Google, 20×200, Getty Images, and more.

For even more information on the value of photo assisting and to hear from other pro photographers like Vincent Laforet, Robert Seale, and Tim Mantoani on what they look for in a photography assistant, download our free Photo Assistant’s Handbook. The guide is packed with key insights on how to succeed as a photo assistant, including the 40+ items every assistant needs now and the 12 problems all assistants are expected to solve.

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