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Here's How to Begin Your Career in Photography

May 06, 1989|ROBERT LACHMAN | Times Staff Writer

Getting started in any career can be very difficult, and photography is no exception.

A college degree is certainly a plus, but it won't have clients knocking at your door. So, where do you get your start?

The Society of Illustrative Photographers is sponsoring a job fair for photography assistants on May 20, beginning at 10 a.m. at the Visual Support Center, 1162 E. Valencia St., Fullerton. The cost is $25 for members and $35 for non-members.

Potential photographic assistants will have the opportunity to make contact with many of the top commercial photographers in Orange County and show their portfolios.

"We are looking for someone who is on the ball, can anticipate what we are going to do, will get totally involved and will be willing to work long hours," said Don Dormeyer, a commercial-advertising photographer who is putting on the job fair.

The job of an assistant can include working on various aspects of a shoot. Certain kinds of location work may need three or four assistants, whereas a simple studio shoot may require only one. An assistant's salary can range from $50 to $150 a day, depending on experience and the specific task.

An assistant can be expected to load cameras, set up strobes, hold reflectors, shoot Polaroids, take film to the lab, rent equipment, paint and work on constructing sets, tear down the sets, clean up, check locations and run for food.

"Working as an assistant is incredibly important," Dormeyer said. "There are so many things you don't learn in school, especially about client-photographer relationships. School teaches the way things should be, not really the way things are.

"Photography involves coordination and compromise. The less you compromise, the better your images will be and the more you will have to coordinate.

"It's balancing things like money, time and ability. There are a lot of things that have to happen at the exact same time to make a great image."

He also thinks working as an assistant is a great opportunity for beginning photographers to become more familiar with their equipment needs and learn about the specific field of photography that best suits them.

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