How To Start From Scratch Without Dying In The Attempt

So there I was, finally in London, with a bag full of dreams and a new life waiting to be lived. Now I just needed to figure out how to start a photographer career and make it in this new city. Being the control freak that I am and having this project management background I divised a one year roadmap for my new path and at the end of the timeline I wrote “start getting paid clients”. So I had a medium term goal and it was just a matter of finding out what the tasks to get there were. I spent hours and days and weeks googling the lives of all the photographers that I admired and whom I felt were living the life that I wanted. I wanted to know how they started out, who they worked with, who were their sponsors, what were their career breakthroughs, in summary, I wanted to find out what were the steps to follow to get where I wanted to be.

One of the conclussions from my research was that most of them started out by assisting other photographers. So I contacted two photographers that I met the year before during my short stay in town and asked them if I could come to one of their shoots and assist them. It was good timing because they had an upcoming shoot but they already had the whole crew, so instead they invited me to come along and take some behind the scenes shots for them. It was my first time on the set of an actual shoot so apart from taking the behind the scenes photos I was absorbing everything that was going on around me. I paid attention to every single detail and tried to learn as much as I could from everyone there: from the makeup artist to the models. Every single member of the crew seemed to have an important role and if I wanted to direct my own shoots one day I needed to know what everyone’s responsibilites were.

Things I learned that day:

1. what it means to organise a photoshoot (crew, location, models, styling, equipment, etc).

2. the roles of the crew members

3. how long a shoot takes and how to schedule each part of the shoot

4. bring refreshments: a fed crew is a happy crew.

5. the importance of assisting

6. how to direct models

7. Where to find crew members online

This was such an unbelievable learning experience for me and it definitely helped me realise what my next step needed to be. I needed to assist a photographer.

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