So yesterday I worked on a shoot for a bridal magazine, which as you might imagine was an entirely different experience again! For this spread we drove about an hour north of Auckland to a breath taking beach called Pakiri. I was too busy to take many photos of my own but if you could imagine white sand dunes stretching almost as far as the eye can see, and a wild bright blue ocean to match. This stretch of beach is particularly special because it is sacred Maori land (it was once a Pa site) and you can only enter with their permission (and paying them a small fee). After a bit of confusion as to where we were supposed to be going we eventually headed down a long gravel road and onto a narrow path through the tussock before finally reaching a tiny, adorable cabin. This would double as our wardrobe/ office/ lunchroom for the day. It certainly proved to be a bit of a squeeze when you have a team of 5 all trying to work in there, in fact the photographer had to set up her computer and work over the bathroom sink!
Once again I was dead nervous to begin with. I always had this awful feeling like I was in the way of everybody and had no clue what the hell I was supposed to be doing! We had about 12 weddings dresses to shoot though so after a while I think I got the hang of things. My job basically included helping the model change outfits, hanging all the dresses up again, pulling leaves out of them, shaking off sand, pinning the dresses to make them look right and noting down which designers we had used in which shoot. So nothing terribly difficult, but still stressful when you're not exactly sure what to do but still want to leave a good impression.
I think the most important thing I got out of the day though was the invaluable advice I received from the photo assistant.
1. Don't work for free (unless it's something you want for your portfolio)!
In New Zealand it seems to have become the norm that people expect you to work for free. Everything is considered 'work experience' and therefore not considered worth paying for. This is incredibly frustrating when you are starting out, and it really doesn't do much for your sense of self worth. Somebody once told me that if you wouldn't work at Mac Donalds for free, then you shouldn't do any other job for free either. A job is a job, if it's called WORK then you should be paid.
2. Don't under charge because you are not as experienced as others.
This isn't doing anybody in the industry any favours. Sure those people that charge a lot less do tend to get more work, however the quality is usually not up to scratch and you're lowering the bar for everybody. If somebody likes your work enough to want to hire you then they should pay the going rate.
3. There is only so much you can learn from assisting.
At some point you have to own what you do and start working for yourself! Proving that you're a good assistant doesn't show clients that you're actually a good stylist/ photographer/ whatever. If you want to make it, you have to take the plunge and do it yourself.
4. Contacts are everything!
I think that this is probably the biggest reason for assisting. On one shoot you meet photographers, editors, make up artists, models, other assistants and it's through these people that you will probably get future jobs. It's all about making sure people don't forget your name! I am beginning to notice that particularly in New Zealand this is a very tight knit industry. Editors have the same people working on shoots every month and so everybody seems to have worked together a million times over. This can be quite daunting as a new comer, it's like starting a brand new school and having to make friends!
Phew well I can't have made too much of a bad impression because I have another job on Monday, followed by another two in the week that I get back from Chirstchurch. I admit that some are unpaid, but I feel like I am a total newcomer to this job and have already learned so much.
P.S Totally forgot to talk about the photos above. Hidden away amongst the tree's was this super creepy caravan. I don't know what happened here but it looks like the oven blew up or something! Anyway everything has been left just as it is. I just had to race back down with my camera at sunset just before we left and snap some photos of it!