Not too long ago, I was fortunate enough to get my first real assisting job with a real, widely known photographer. Paul Mobley is a New York based portrait photographer, best known for his recent book American Farmer as well as his commercial work for the automotive and entertainment industries, among others. Paul was great to work for, and forgiving if nothing else when I made a mistake (like not getting the paper roll secured well enough).
Helping Paul gave me a lot of insight into how different people work as photographers. Usually I'm the one leading, or sharing with other skilled photographers. Paul was the first real pro commercial shooter that makes his living at photography that I got to see in action. It made me much more conscious of how I'll work in the future.
Paul was shooting material for his portfolio at the Michigan Basset Hound Rescue's event, where the main attraction was the dozens of floppy eared, belly dragging, sad eyed dogs. And their owners. While there was a fair amount of equipment there, it really came down to a lighting setup that I've used since my early days of strobist. Simple, easy to control, good looking light. Most call it 3 point, but we had 4 lights on this one to make life easier in post.
My job comprised mostly of keeping the paper backdrop intact (at which I somewhat failed, but we did keep enough to have the necessary background), helping lift the 60-85lbs dogs, hold them in awkward positions, hand out business cards, and help solve nagging little details like how to keep my monolights dry in a drizzle just wet enough to fry them.
In some of his shots, I'm actually right behind the subject, holding a dog in place. In a few others, I'm on the side waiting to be edited out later. For all the work we did on the backdrop, it ended up seeming like Paul was going to take care of it all in post anyways. A white foamcore behind any hair would probably have worked nearly as well in a pinch.
For my first real assisting job, it seemed very prosaic with very few wrinkles. It was fun, I learned a lot and finally remembered to ask some questions I had about his book, but towards the end when everything was worked out, all I had to do was run and ask people if we could borrow their dog.
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