My interview with PDN magazine is live on their website today.
I had an in-depth conversation with them a couple months back about the steps I took to transition from assistant to photographer, so it's super humbling to have one's experience recounted for others to read and learn from.
There's a lot of information there, but for those making their own march up or the seasoned pro who's reminiscing, here's what assisting represents to me:
It is a window of time to practice the business-side of photography on a micro level. In the beginning, you're going to write horribly verbose email and stammer like crazy on the phone. For six months, no one is going to write you back, or they're going to say "call me in six months." You may get discouraged, but if you push through it, you're going to find that your emails become razor sharp: tactful, witty and to-the-point. After some time, you're going to make calls and find you're in and out of it in a minute or two like it was a bank heist -- resolve and clarity in your message.
Assisting is also the perfect stomping ground to learn the subtle art of negotiation and relationship building. You might agree to anything in the way of rate in the beginning. With enough time, you're going to have three or four questions that act as a baseline to determine your value to them and their value to you. Day rates, travel days, and kit rental fees -- even referring a colleague -- become white poker chips since your actual economy is building and cementing new relationships.
Do that enough times, and you're ready to make the leap. If you've got a killer voice and style to the work, then you're doubly ready.
Super big thanks to David and Amber at Photo District News for the opportunity. Big shout to Kenny for pointing me toward their tweet.