Appropriate figure for a photo assistant?

Discussion in 'Photographers' started by get_me_a_gun, Aug 5, 2006.

  1. get_me_a_gun

    get_me_a_gun Member

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    Hi,

    I am new to the industry and have little experience, Im looking for some guidance as to how much i should charge for doing photo assisting. I am a fast learner, I know right from wrong, and Im extremely patient. Im going to school for photography. (ill be a sophomore in the fall)

    This is in boston, so if anyone could share some insight on what a fair rate would be, Id appreciate it.
     
  2. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    hi there

    you might consider going to boston and poking around at ep levines on drydock. levines has "the list" and i am sure they would be able to tell you what the going rate is.


    good luck !

    -john
     
  3. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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  4. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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  5. tim atherton

    tim atherton Inactive

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    36-24-34
     
  6. Amund

    Amund Member

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    LOL! :wink:
     
  7. Dave Parker

    Dave Parker Inactive

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    My assistant charged me a heck of a price when I hired her, we just celebrated our 18th wedding aniversary, been an expensive assistant!

    LOL

    Dave
     
  8. Chazzy

    Chazzy Member

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    Damn, you beat me to it! :smile:
     
  9. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    Cutting through the sexist BS for a moment, the going rate in the UK would be around £100 a day - whether you get this will depend on how great the photographer in question thinks he/she is and how much of an honor he/she thinks he/she is doing you by employing you. Certainly any research would be valuable, is there no one at your college who can help? If there is a company that keeps a list of assistants, you could call them (not necessarily giving your right name) and ask them how much it would cost you to hire an assistant - this would get you a straighter answer.

    Good luck and best regards.

    David
     
  10. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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  11. tim atherton

    tim atherton Inactive

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    tell a lie to get a straight answer... now there's a nice deceptive way to go about things. Thankfully, karma usually catches up with such an approach and evens things out
     
  12. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    Oh dear! Does this mean every investigative reporter in the world will be struck dead by a bolt of lightning? In the world of media, infested as it is by the plague of the "volunteer" concept (young aspirants being forced to work for indefinite periods for little or no money in the hopes of eventually being given a paid job), every means short of murder is justified (and even murder would be acceptable in the case of certain individuals). Just what viewpoint are you speaking from, Tim?
     
  13. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    rather than say you want to hire someone, just call levines, say you want to be included on "the list" but you aren't sure what you should charge. they work with commercial photographers all-day-everyday and some of the staff freelances as commercial assitants themselves ( ... or they used to ) they will give you the " very little experience " price as well as " been assisting for a decade and have worked for <insert name of $3,500/day commercial photographer here>" price ...

    it could take a lifetime for the kharma-train to catch up with someone, and i have a feeling "the universe" has bigger fish to fry than someone concealing/fibbing about their identity to find out how much a freelance assistant might cost ... :wink:
     
  14. Changeling1

    Changeling1 Member

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    Many assistant photographers are very highly skilled photographers themselves without which the photographer of record would be utterly lost!
    What an assistant makes is a based of their skill level, ability to travel, and what sorts of assignments they would be willing to work on etc. Some assignments may not be for you depending on the nature of the job.

    Bulletin boards at prof. camera stores can be a good source for finding out what needs there are locally. craigslist.org and Photo District News are other possibilities. Make up a business card and get around to as many events and gatherings as you can (network) and soon you will get a feel for the current market. You should be able to get some leads at your school, if it has a good photography program. You might luck out and get a paid internship. I know a young lady who graduated from Art Center, Pasadena who did her internship at a studio in London. Who knows, you might get a job offer from someone right here on APUG.

    Another important consideration is your portfolio- all of your prospective employers will want to see hard copies of it! :smile:
     
  15. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    Another important consideration is your portfolio- all of your prospective employers will want to see hard copies of it!

    No. Not necessarily true.

    When there is a functional community of photographers,
    it is often enough to have a reference from a teacher
    ( a city like Boston, most shooters know each other,
    and a kind word from an instructor is a valuable thing )

    The last thing a photographer wants to do is look through a portfolio
    when they need a reliable and somewhat pleasant person to shift C Stands,
    push a broom, and listen.

    .
     
  16. GraemeMitchell

    GraemeMitchell Member

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    First, an assistant is very important to a shooter, and an excellent assistant (they're rare) is something a good shooter will happily pay dearly for. But as has already been mentioned, a good assistant is often a damn good shooter in their own right, and could literally finish the job if the photog happened to be a no show. Furthermore, an assistant photog relationship is also something that develops over years. With this, pay becomes dependant on your skills, the place your relationship is at with the given photographer, and lastly the jobs overall budget.

    IMO, in a market like Boston, starting rate for a 2nd or 3rd assistant would be $175. That's what I started at in a B market. Sometimes the shooters may have a little more and sometimes a little less, as long as you know their honest and just trying to get you on the money train too then it's usually good to be humble and accept the odd end $100 day. It often pays off in the long run if the photograpeh is generous, b/c they'll remember it when the big advertising jobs come along. Plus, it's a free lunch. (Fashion often pays less b/c there's more people in line to do it, and still life often pays more, b/c it's not as glam).

    With that, if you get to know a shooter and become a 1st assist for them, learn them and their gear and how to predict them, learn to light for them, learn digi tech and retouching and file management (invaluable these days), and so on and so forth, then you should be making between $300-600 a day for commercial work. This may take a year or more to work to from the $175 starting point.

    I assisted one guy for 2.5 years, we worked a lot and well together, and had a great relationship. I moved on, moved far away, and am doing little assisting now, but he still flys me home (east to west coast) and pays me generously to be his 1st when he gets big advertising jobs. I mention this b/c it illustrates how important a good assistant is, and once you start shooting big jobs on your own you'll understand why. They can make a shoot SO much better.

    So become good, work hard, use your head, and you'll make good $ for yourself and a photographer. After which (2 years is the standard assisting time) you'll always have a close friend and mentor to call on with questions/favors/advice.
     
  17. HerrBremerhaven

    HerrBremerhaven Member

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    You might want to check the Business Forums on PDN (Photo District News). There is a current thread about Photo Assistant Day Rates:

    http://www.pdngallery.com/cgi-bin/ubb/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=5;t=002174

    Within that thread you can find links to some great resources for assistants. Even though you are a newcomer to the business, as long as you bring some knowledge and a willingness to work you should be compensated fairly. Don't accept a low rate just because you are starting out. Best of luck.

    Ciao!

    Gordon Moat
    A G Studio
     
  18. DKT

    DKT Member

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    fwiw, you might find this book helpful.

    _The Photographer's Assistant Handbook_ by Matt Prolux.
    ISBN:0-240-80413-9