Do You Need an Assistant for Event Photography?

Event photography can be a tough gig. Major lifetime events only occur once. They're not scripted, and as the photographer you're not supposed to interfere.

You're expected to remain invisible and let the guests have a great time. That being said, it's important to remain constantly alert to obtain the best shots. Sometimes you need an assistant to make that possible.

Step 1: What Does the Job Entail?

If it's a small event and the client is not very specific in what they want, you can probably do the job alone. But if it's a large event and they want photos of everything possible then you should consider hiring an assistant.

Step 2: Who Do You Call?

Professional assistants can cost anywhere from $300 to $500 for the day, plus overtime. A competent up-and-coming assistant will be at least $100. And you're also expected to feed them as well. This may seem unfavorable; however the money you spend on them should be worth it because they're familiar with the procedures and the equipment. 

Step 3: Hire a Friend

If the gig is a good opportunity for you but the budget is too small to hire a professional, you then consider asking a friend for a favor. You should pay for your friend's meals for the day out of decency. The disadvantage when asking a friend to help you is that they might not be familiar with photography and could be very slow. If the job is not too assistant-heavy then you should be fine.

Step 4: Build the Cost into your Bill

If this happens to be a large event and the client requires extensive services, tell them how much you charge and let them know you need to hire an assistant.

If they refuse to pay that amount and you find yourself with the choice of either doing a horrible job by yourself, or losing money on the gig to pay for help, then consider walking away from the job. The worst thing you could do to yourself is get a reputation as someone whose work is not top notch. Word of mouth counts a lot in this business.

The decision to hire an assistant comes down to two factors: "Is it too much work to handle by yourself without sacrificing quality?" or "Can you afford an assistant?" If you answered 'yes' to both of those questions, then you need to pick up a phone and hire an assistant. If you only answered 'yes' to the first one, then you better call a friend.

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