The Importance of a Great Photography Assistant

As hard as I try I will never forgot standing on the scorching sand at noon, happily naive and shooting away as my favorite sandal broke. Juggling a digital camera swaying around my neck and a medium format film body in my right hand, I was horrified. And my feet were burning slam up. The last thing I was going to do was let my uncomfort show so instead of drawing attention to my bare feet literally roasting on the sand and black rock I simply popped my feet into the ocean every chance I got, praying I would be able to take a minute to rig my slippah up. In the midst of a typical all afternoon photography talk session, I shared my horrific "learned it the hard way" story with a fellow wedding photographer. Her response as I showed her my toasted tootsies?  "Have you ever considered an assistant?". An assistant? Like someone to carry bags, change film and run to the car for bug spray instead of me? For a bit I worried it would be entirely too Diva... "Hellooo, this is my assistant" getting the second hand treatment kind of like Lisa Vanderpump's poor house keeper but then it dawned on me that having another pair of hands on a shoot especially for wedding days would free up both my second shooter and I and would give us a fabulous opportunity to stay in the moment with the couplenot worrying about what obscure corner we had set our bag down in. I've learned an uncountable amount of lessons in my experiences as a Wedding Photographer, and the two most life changing rules are: don't discredit the tremendous help of a solid assistant and never, ever leave home without an extra pair of slippahs.

Fab Photography Assistants Are:

1. Master Bag Carriers.

2. Guardians of Memory Cards and Exposed Film.

3. Professional Smilers, Hustlers, and Ready-to-Pop Open-an-Umbrella-at-a-Moment’s-Notice -ers.

4. Remembers of the Bug Spray.

5. Magicians of Promptly Rounding up the Socializing Family Formals Group.

6. Energetic Brand Ambassadors and “oh em gee can you remind the Wedding Planner ” Whisperers.

7. We Need Water The Bride + Groom Need Champagne Securers.

8. Experienced Make-up Bag/Blotting Paper/Client’s Outfit Change on a Hanger Escorts.

9. Aptly Aware Psychologists and Personality Chameleons.

10. Generous Companion, Trusted Confidant, and Exceptional Friend. Oh, and Mind Readers.


B. Mussack, an exceptionally talented photographer herself, is such a good friend that without hesitation happily lugged a jam packed camera bag and two ginormous balloons around the crowded Punahou carnival, consistently telling folks "No, they don't have these balloons here" as they bopped them in the head so that I was free to direct and weave Lauren + Kawika through the busy fairgrounds. I'd be lying if I said this image above was intentional, but it made me laugh SO FREAKING HARD. Seriously, thanks so much B.

James Ramos is the most outgoing, happy and down right quickest Filipino I know. They guy's got serious talent, and I am grateful that he is often so nice enough to join in on weddings and shoots, always with an Wedding Emergency Kit in his trunk and never thinking twice about carrying around the girl's pink bags...well...until now...

Thank you to B., James, Shel and Bora who so kindly come along on shoots, change out film, round up props and supplies, and most importantly bring a huge smile and wave of relief to what I do.  I cherish you guys, and couldn't do it without you.