The American Society of Media Photographers provides this forum to encourage the development of critical skills and to foster new ideas. Our goal is an informed and savvy professional photography community.

One Step in Your Career

[by Amanda Sosa Stone]

Recently, a dear friend who attended photography school but took her life in another direction asked me about getting back into the industry. I honestly didn’t know how to help her dust off the cobwebs and get back out there with so much new technology. So I did what I do best…I asked the experts. I went to three professional photographers who I knew would guide me in the right direction. Here are the insights they shared:

Alex McKnight:

As I have said to emerging talent in the past, look up shooters in the area and go work with them. I suggest they work in all types of photography so they can determine which they really wanted to do. In this case, however, I would suggest seeking out the shooters that do the kind of work she likes.

Make a call — and when they don’t answer, follow up with an email. Make them an offer they can’t refuse.

I get calls (more often emails) from people, but unless I recognize the name or they have some referral name I don’t normally reply. I have my go-to people and it is rare I step outside that realm. When I do need a third assistant or PA, that’s when the newbies get an opportunity. I often call my assistants and ask their help in finding a second, third or fourth. She may want to contact her competition and offer to be an extra set of hands for them.

As for digital knowledge – I suggest attending some kind of Capture One Pro class (C1Pro) as that is the software most of us use. LightRoom is another helpful application to know.

She may have better luck in the moving pictures industry as a PA or something like that. I believe ProductionHub is the place to add your listing.

ASMP has a “find an assistant” searchable database. I would review the assistants that are listed before trying to add myself. You will see poor examples of listings right next to impressive ones.

Octavian Cantilli:

On the one hand, assisting gives you a first-hand account about how photographers, art directors and clients interact. On the other hand, it seems that once a crew sees you as an assistant, you will remain an assistant in their eyes for a long time.

When it comes to “learning the most recent technologies,” you’d be best off learning that stuff on your own. The Internet is all you really need. Each manufacturer of top photo gear (Broncolor, Profoto, Phase One, Matthew’s, Avenger and Kupo) has amazing websites. A ton of info is hidden there, and if you have more in-depth questions, you can contact the company’s tech department for answers.

All assistants should have a real interest in the tech stuff as photography is currently evolving rapidly. However, if you find yourself knowing more than the photographer about the flash duration, recycle time, or the max repetition flash sequence of the strobes being used on a job, your job as an assistant isn’t to educate the photographer in the middle of the shoot. Doing so makes them look bad in front of the client. Instead, the assistant should wait until the photographer asks for his/her opinion. Then the answer should be given discreetly.

Another great resource for learning and getting work is to go make friends with the local video grip and/or stills strobe rental houses. Offer to work for free one day. Show up early, have a “yes sir” attitude and be a go- getter. Show up on set dressed well but ready to work. In the case of us guys, too many assistants show up looking like bums with shitty beards and dirty clothes. Looking sharp, smelling good and being clean cut goes a long way! The same antics may work when approaching local photographers the assistant wants to work with.

Thomas Winter:

Assistants need experience, so that means you may have to connect and do some low end jobs. One’s presentation, appearance, and ability to work long days is important. A lot of my work is corporate, so an older, well dressed assistant is of value. I can’t tell you how many assistants show up for a corporate job in shorts.

I am so appreciative of the knowledge these three pros shared. It’s a community like this that makes me love this industry. I hope you can take this information as a stepping-stone moving forward into your career of becoming a professional photographer or even a professional assistant.

Former creative consultant, Amanda Sosa Stone now serves as Chief Product Officer at Agency Access and FoundFolios, ensuring marketing channels are strong, deliver results and help artists get seen. 


By Editor | Posted: May 26th, 2015 | No comments

Road to Success

This week, our friends at Agency Access are rounding out Wednesday’s Business as unUsual webinar, Estimating with Confidence, featuring art buyer, producer & Agency Access consultant Lynn Kyle, by offering their insights on breaking into the biz, building your portfolio, marketing your work and facing your first big portfolio review.  Enjoy!
~Judy Herrmann, Editor

By webmaster | Posted: May 26th, 2015 | No comments
Get Connected

Estimating with Confidence

This week, ASMP runs our final Business as unUsual of the season.  Don’t miss this free webinar on pricing, negotiating and estimating for still and motion photographers!



Estimating with Confidence
with Art Buyer, Producer & Agency Access consultant Lynn Kyle
Wednesday May 27, 2015
1:00 – 2:30 pm eastern

You’ve made the connection, made an impression, and have been asked to quote on a project, but where do you start? These days, even the most experienced photographers seem to struggle with pricing their work, sussing out client needs and negotiating favorable fees. An experienced Art Buyer and Producer, Lynn Kyle will help you understand how to ask the right questions, come up with the right numbers and build lasting relationships as you navigate the maze of pricing and estimating. Join us for this special 90 minutes online webinar on pricing and estimating with plenty of time to get your questions answered.  Register today!

This will be the last Business as unUsual of the season, but we have plenty of recorded sessions to keep you  busy until we start back up in the Fall:

And those are just this season’s offerings!  See even more insightful, informative and inspiring recordings at




By Editor | Posted: May 25th, 2015 | No comments

Things I’ve Been Told

[by Blake Discher]

Congratulations, you’re graduating!  Over the years smarter people than myself have been good enough to share their wisdom with me.  One admonished me to share my knowledge, here’s what I’ve got this morning, in bite-sized portions:

  1. Build your team from the start. Get a good CPA, attorney, and mentor.
  2. Hang with winners, winning is contagious.
  3. Listen more, talk less.
  4. Share your knowledge unselfishly, you’ll learn more.
  5. Have an awesome business card, hire a designer.
  6. Get an amazing website, hire a designer.
  7. Build your brand, hire a coach to help you do it right.
  8. You won’t get every job. Don’t mope, keep your chin up.
  9. Send hand-written thank you cards, even when you don’t get the job.
  10. How is your work different?  Run with it.  Be different.
  11. Always be: networking, selling, and closing.
  12. In business, and in life, act as if your grandma is watching.
  13. Never bad mouth a client, ever.
  14. Get up earlier than everyone else in your house and read some wisdom.
  15. Don’t read email until 10am.  It will still be there.
  16. Keep moving… the status-quo is deadly.

And one more thing…  When I speak publicly, I start every presentation with this:

When I was five years old my mom always told me that happiness was the key to life.  When I went to school they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I wrote down “happy.”  They told me I didn’t understand the assignment and I told them they didn’t understand life.

That was written by John Lennon, I’ve always loved it.

Get out there.

Be happy.

Be yourself.

Be successful.

A Detroit-based photographer and SEO consultant, Blake Discher realizes he has two ears and one mouth.  He strives to use them in proportion.

By Blake Discher | Posted: May 22nd, 2015 | No comments

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