Getting started, getting your foot in the door, in any industry can be difficult. The same is true in the photography business, and similarly to the fashion industry, often seems to be more about who you know. Finding an “in” is sometimes a job in and of itself, and serious networking skills may be required.
In photography, a good step to take might be to assist. That elusive full-time assistant (first, second or otherwise) seems hard to come by, even more so if you lack the necessary connections. I find myself in these very circumstances. Of course I want to do my own thing, focus on the kind of work that I want to do, but I also know I’m still young and I’m not going to pretend I know everything there is to know about photography and the industry right now. There is always something to learn, and assisting is one of the best ways to get that experience. Some of the greatest fashion photographers working today assisted other top photographers when they were first starting out. Paolo Roversi assisted Lawrence Sackman, Tim Walker assisted Richard Avedon and so on. The big question is HOW they managed to become assistants to such well-known photographers.
Some of us will have to search for such positions high and low, hoping by some miracle to make a connection with someone who sees your potential. Others know someone who knows someone else who worked for so-and-so, etc. And so it goes.
Case-in-point: Kate Middleton will apparently be making a temporary move to NY to act as Nikolai von Bismarck’s assistant (via Cele|bitchy). Granted, it seems to be just a two-week long gig, but still. It should be noted that von Bismarck holds the title of “Count” and is a good friend of Prince William and Prince Harry. He has also worked with Annie Leibovitz and Mario Testino. Ah well, isn’t she a lucky girl.
It’s easy for people like Kate, who have seemingly endless connections, to get into pretty much any industry they wish. Not so easy for myself and others like me.
When a full-time, unpaid internship isn’t an option, what is there to do? I’m curious if anyone has tips, suggestions or helpful anecdotes from your own experiences? Does anyone else find this to be the case as well? And what of freelance assisting?