5 tips to land a photography assistant job

In the past few weeks we have returned to the market of finding a photography assistant. After receiving more than a hundred applications for the photography assistant internship, we feel there are 5 things we identified that made us discard 90% of the applications without the need of an interview. If you want to land a photography assistant job or internship, these are the 5 tips to stand out from the crowd.

1. a photography assistant internship application needs a good covering letter, not a good CV

When hunting for a photography assistant, we do not focus a lot on past experiences. From a photography assistant we rarely expect a long experience in photography, but we expect to understand who is on the other side of an application. The best way to present yourself is through a killer covering letter, not through a perfect CV. A photographer needs to understand if an applicant has what it takes to be a good photography assistant, and a covering letter tells much more than anything else.
To apply for our internship, you can even skip the CV entirely, but forgetting a cover letter will make your application ends in the rejection bin at the speed of light.
One more note on the covering letter. I know it is not easy to write, but having a standard one to send to twenty different jobs won’t make you save time, will make you miss all your opportunities!

2. read the job specifications

This may sound very silly, but after discarding dozens of applications for the same reason, we reach the understanding that many applicants simply didn’t read the job specifications. If you apply without reading what the photographer writes, how can she expect you to listen to what she asks you? If she ask you to tell her why you think you are the right person for the role, and you don’t even take the time to fill your covering letter, you are wasting her time. Of course, you are also wasting your time, because your application to the photography assistant role will be swiftly rejected.

3. it is not about the photography assistant, it is about the photographer

The role of a photography assistant is not easy. You will have to work hard for peanuts, you will need to be at the disposal of the photographer, but there is a bright side to it: by shadowing a photographer you will learn many things, and you will avoid a heap of trouble in setting up your own business. Being a good photography assistant is tough, but if you want to do it you need to understand that it is all about the photographer, and never about you. When applying to a job, keep this well in mind. What’s in for the photographer if you are going to become her photography assistant? What can you bring to the table to your advantage? Reading the job specifications should give you an insight to what the photographer needs. It should be easy to understand if you can provide that. What can you add to the photographer, so that you can be seen as “essential” in the studio. Photographing or having a camera won’t make your candidacy any better. What more can you bring?
Oh, and by the way, don’t lie: during a simple phone conversation lies will surface and you will be rejected.

4. it is ok to be personal

One of the applicants wrote:
I am a guru in making coffee and I am so skilled that I can make it without you even asking for it, as I am trained to sense when you need it
Why did we shortlist this person only after reading this line? No, the answer is not that I believe she can sense when I need coffee, but this line tells me two things:

  • I have a selfless person in front of me
  • I have a person that in being selfless, knows how to show personality

Making coffee is not the biggest ambition of a photography assistant, I am sure you will agree with me on this; however, telling me that you are ready to make coffee with a smile on your face, also tells me that you understand that there will be tasks you won’t love, but you will do them nonetheless. Go back and read the previous tips once more: it is not about you!

5. research who you want to work for

Last, but not least: if you don’t know the photographer and you don’t do any research, you can avoid applying. Do your homework, go on the photographer’s website, read her blog, look at her images and make sure that you know everything there is to know about her. That’s as simple as it gets, yet too many people don’t take the time to do it. The photographer won’t take the time to keep them into account for the role of photography assistant.

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