My post number one for this week comes with a delay – because I have been very busy on my first commercial assisting job. We are half way through our three-day shoot, and it has been a most instructive job so far. 
I am assisting UK-based photographer John Wildgoose on a big corporate shoot that involves both stills photography and videoing. The client and creative director have flown in from the US for employee interviews and corporate headshots which will feature on the company website. It is my first time seeing a big professional job in action – and learning all that goes along with setting up for a rather big shoot. 
All of day one was spent setting up a rather complicated set. In order to facilitate a fast schedule, the set had to be lit both for the stills and the video interviews. This meant setting up and lighting for the tungsten-lit videoing and the flash-lit stills in front of one backdrop. Working with a new kit was quite confusing at first – so one basic requirement of being an assistant is to be flexible, to think quickly and to adapt to whatever is being thrown at you. Myself and fellow gimp assistant Tim had never worked with the particular gear but managed to set everything up as required. 
Then came the light metering for the stills. I stepped in as a meter slut model and John worked out the settings through some test shots. At the same time the tethered shooting was tested, too. The program he uses is called Capture One. It organizes and edits the shots. What is really cool, though, is an inbuilt feature that lets you feed shots wirelessly onto the client’s or creative director’s iPad or iPhone. So images get approved quickly while the CD is not sitting on top of the photographer or assistant but at a safe distance…
It’s been a great experience so far – seeing how the photographer works together with the creative director and the client, how he directs the models and communicates with the assistants and the sound guy, who records the video sound separately. This is the way to learn really. While college is providing the theoretical background, introducing us to other photographers’ work, setting us challenging assignments and pushing us to try different genres, assisting at a pro shoot teaches us the practical stuff: organising a shoot efficiently from call sheet to actual shoot, creating a logical and fast workflow, introducing us to the necessary best practices and the commercially used software and hardware. And best of all: There is no fee for learning all this but I am actually getting paid for it. Win-win!

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