Friday, March 09, 2007

assistant photographer

Yesterday I spent a great day assisting the incredible Matt McKee. He's a Boston photographer who has really "made it" and was great about sharing advice and secrets about what to do to become a truly successful photographer (in the non-bankruptcy sense).

I had a lot of questions for him, because this is something I struggle with on a very regular basis - how do I make a living by this art, and also keep my services accessible for young couples, families, and especially artists?

I started out in the business testing the waters, doing weddings at such incredibly low prices that I look back now and realize I was almost losing money in the deal. I wanted to badly to get enough experience to a) know if I wanted to seriously pursue this profession, and b) figure out technically how to get where I wanted to go.

So last year, thanks to a ton of enthusiastic referrals (thank you!!) I worked a lot. I learned to love what we as wedding photographers do. And I watched carefully for the areas I am not so strong in and looked for ways to improve myself. I am constantly looking at the work of other photographers and asking questions. It's a fun learning process, and I have found that many people are very good at sharing. Assisting other photographers is a great way to ask questions and see what works in a hands-on experience.

Anyway, what I set out to say is that Matt McKee is really great. He did an editorial corporate shoot (am I using that phrase correctly?) with a couple of CEOs in Cambridge, whose company is looking for images for the annual report. The CEO had to be "serious, but not angry." So these two guys from Scotland came in, Matt shot for about 20 minutes (after a 75 minute set up process testing lights), and then gave them instant viewing on his macbook. They were thrilled at the images and I was truly impressed. Matt was quick, professional, and allowed the clients to be at ease as they worked.

Another thing I think Matt seems to do really well is balance work and life. He has a strong marriage, two really cute boys, and is able to work his shooting schedule into weekday mornings while still growing his client list. This is a really hard balance for photographers, because our work is demanding of both energy and creativity, and also can eat up entire weeks or weekends. When do you see your spouse?

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