Studio Assistant Responsibilities

Discussion in 'Business of Photography' started by stephanie_pickard, Jun 16, 2015.

  1. I've recently acquired my first studio assistant job this past month, and the further I get into it the more confused I am. I live in metro detroit, so there aren't a ton of huge photographers around, and the man I'm working for used to be really big but business has slowed down as the industry has gotten crowded. Anyway, I read somewhere that the only way to land an assistant position was to work for free, so I agreed to work for free when I got the job. As far as I knew, a studio assistant helped maintain the studio's appearance, helped with clients, social media, lighting, etc. However, this photographer has me come in every single day, including weekends, and the bulk of my work seems to be doing things he just doesn't want to do. My first two tasks were painting the whole studio as well as the kitchen area (he lives in his studio), he wants me to organize his attic (even though it's mostly his old clothes and heirlooms and kitchen supplies crap), dust off his kitchen cabinets, paint windowsills, mop everything all the time, change out lightbulbs on a 40ft ladder, and I feel like a janitor. Plus I'm doing absolutely all of this for free and I'm barely learning anything about photography, which is why I wanted the position in the first place. Is this what a studio job usually entails?
  2. A photographer's assistant does whatever the photographer says, but it's usually more photography oriented than what you're describing.
    Good assistants -- those with enough experience to be helpful -- get paid. Beginning assistants who are still learning are at least getting on-the-job training out of the deal, and sometimes access to equipment and studio space to do their own work.
    Painting and mopping are part of running a studio, but I agree that it sounds more like you are being an unpaid janitor than a a photographer's assistant.
  3. +1 what Craig says. This sounds more like a plantation work and not much to do with creating images. It might be good to reassess the whole strategy and perhaps put something on paper what your responsibilities truly are....and whether you agree to it. I'm sure you need a much as anyone, eh ?
  4. Does Michigan not have a minimum wage law? If you aren't being paid and you aren't learning anything then there is really no point being there. You would be better off at KFC. At least there you get free "food".
  5. Never work for free. You are so being exploited.
  6. After graduating from Art Center in LA; my first job was as an assistant to a (then) well-known, ex-NY pro who had apparently burned his bridges back east.
    While his first assistant worked "on the set", I was relegated to cleaning and loading film holders, cleaning, and running various errands.
    First errand was to take his car to get washed and tip the washer ONLY if the results were spotless. Apparently his version of spotless and mine didn't match and he reamed me for tipping the guy. Next errand was to go to a lumber yard and pick up a selection of boards to be used in a product photo. Apparently I wasn't picky enough in my selection and he had another assistant return and replace most of the boards.
    Last task was to deliver a paper bag to an address in Venice Beach. I sped over there in my own car and delivered the bag to the address provided. The guy who answered the door pulled a huge baggie of marijuana form the bag and thanked me!
    I quit the job that afternoon.
  7. My first two tasks were painting the whole studio as well as the kitchen area (he lives in his studio).....
    If he was teaching you Karate then this might be useful. Wax on, wax off, paint the fence.....

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