A million years ago Almost four years ago I posted this message on facebook:
Then Audrey learned how to operate the photobooth and she started coming to weddings with me. Audrey is Icelandic so she totally rocked the viking look in the booth:
And then, because Audrey was such great company not to mention professional with great attention to detail I asked her if she'd be interested in assisting at weddings. Assisting at weddings is really hard work and pretty unglamorous. You have to be as unobtrusive as possible yet as helpful as possible. Tying bowties and pinning on boutonnières are all part of the job:
At each wedding I like to do a quick lighting test and as assistant you have to be willing to stand in for the couple.
Audrey always goes above and beyond so for this lighting test instead of just sitting where the couple would for the rehearsal dinner slideshow, I asked Audrey to imagine "These toasts are hilarious and you're having the best time ever!":
"Audrey - look longingly at the "groom!" I guess he's very tall:
"Audrey - can you walk gracefully along the wooded path so I can test the light?"
"Audrey - imagine you're a father seeing his daughter in her wedding dress for the first time."
But being an assistant is not all standing around as a test subject. It's incredibly hard physical work. As assistant has to roll and carry very heavy camera cases. Some of the older churches in Boston don't have ramps for rolling so cases have to be carried up and down steep steps. Here's poor Audrey carrying 3 heavy camera bags while I just stand around and point at the sky.
As well as carrying/looking after all of the equipment an assistant also has to manage the LIST. I don't work from shot lists - after 8 years of weddings I know just enough to make sure I get the rings, the kiss, the first dance ;). However for family formals it's essential that we know exactly who the family members are (and any family dynamics) so we can work through the family pictures as quickly and painlessly as possible while still getting totally mantel-worthy pictures. Missing just one family group picture could be catastrophic so attention to detail is critical here. You also have to have some excellent people skills as you politely round up the next grouping so there's on base and ready to go. Here's Audrey checking off groups as we go:
Sometimes an assistant has to be the lighting test subject AND manage the list. Audrey is always happy to do this:
Basically, as an assistant at weddings you have to be prepared to take whatever is thrown at you. Even if it's a baby. The baby wasn't actually thrown (don't throw babies people!) but lovingly passed to Audrey by her wonderful Moms - Kari & Debbie - who flew into Boston from Florida for their Boston Public Garden Elopement.
Sometimes I'll need to make images in darker hotel hallways and they don't happen magically on their own.
Nope we need lights. And assistants to hold the lights. So assistants need VERY strong arms. Strong arms to hold lights and carry lots of bags! "Higher, higher, higher, more light, less light!"
So after assisting at multiple weddings I asked Audrey if she'd like to start shooting too. I'd have a regular second photographer and ask Audrey to stay towards the back/in the balcony and she was getting pictures like this!!! Look at the fabulous framing!
Fast forward through many many more weddings and multiple photography workshops and classes Audrey is now at 9 out of 10 weddings photographing alongside me. Like at Beth & Jeremy's recent Fairmont Copley Wedding Audrey took this amazing silhouette of Jeremy:
This awesome picture of Beth & Jeremy walking down the aisle is Audrey's:
Audrey also turns her camera on me occasionally, "Leah, you'd better not fall in the water until after the ceremony!"
"Leah - there's a car coming, don't get run over until after the ceremony!"
"Uh, Leah, are you OK? Do you need help getting up?"
"Leah, there's only 5 minutes of cocktail hour left, do you want to stop meditating and maybe take some pictures?"
"Leah - they're BEHIND you!"
So why am I posting all of this stuff about what it's like to assist at a Leah Haydock Photography wedding? Because it's time for me to find a new fabulous assistant. You see - when I saw this picture below I knew Audrey had gotten too big for her boots. Making faces behind my back was the last straw. Audrey - that's it, you're fired.
JOKING!!!!! Rest assured, Audrey will be at 20 of the 22 weddings in 2015! But I need a new assistant so Audrey can focus solely on photography.
The right person will be:
- Super conscientious, responsive and reliable with great attention to detail
- Calm and professional especially when under pressure
- Creative with the ability to think fast on your feet
- Flexible with a "can do" attitude. If you've ever said "That's not my job!" then this is NOT something that you'll enjoy!
- You don't need to be a photographer (there will initially be no photography requirements although this may or may not change)
- Available on weekends May - November and willing and able to travel all over New England (from RI up to VT and everywhere in between)
- Physically fit (able to run up and down stairs, carry camera bags weighing up to 50lbs)
- Interested in learning more about the wedding industry
Typical things an assistant might do:
- Carrying camera bags
- Managing the family formal list with great care
- Setting up lights and light stands for the reception
- Driving and parking my car occasionally (so you'll need a clean driving license)
- Packing up equipment and making sure everything is in one place
- Location scouting
- Photobooth operation (everything will be explained!)
This is a paid position (hourly rate) and will provide the right person with a lot of insight into the world of wedding photography. It's hard work though, you'll be on your feet for hours sometimes with just a couple of minutes to grab a bit of a protein bar to keep you going!
Finally the right person will have a good sense of humor and teamwork. Here's the time that I crept behind the photobooth backdrop and surprised Audrey as the "Ghost of the Photobooth". Audrey not only laughed but made sure to capture it.
And I figured who better to provide insight about what it's like to assist a wedding photographer than Audrey herself:
What's a typical day assisting at a wedding with Leah?
Ha! There is no typical day as each wedding is so completely different. You usually start setting up lights in the reception location (although sometimes you don't have access to the room and you have to do this quickly during cocktail hour).
If there's a first look you'll be carrying Leah's camera bag and being an unobtrusive as possible while also anticipating which lens she'll want next. You might find yourself holding bouquets, carrying jackets and purses and pinning boutonnieres. If there are small children in the formal pictures you might be asked to make silly faces and even dance around to get their attention so they're looking into the camera. Sometimes it feels like you're a human version of a notepad as Leah will randomly say things like "Remind me to photograph the bouquets! I still need a picture of the rings!" and expect you to remember them.
You might drive Leah's car to the church if she's riding in one of the limos and then you'll have to find a safe yet accessible place to put all of the equipment. You may or may not get to shoot from the balcony and you'll have to be super quiet.
During cocktail hour you'll likely have to find Leah the first of several diet cokes. If you're manning the photobooth you'll have to bump up the energy and encourage guests to hop in and take pictures, you'll need to be friendly, enthusiastic but also super professional.
At the reception you'll want to always keep an eye on Leah in case she's making crazy hand signals at you. Sometimes she'll change up the hand signals from wedding to wedding and you'll have to try to guess what she wants - batteries, another diet coke, a light stand moved to one side. If Leah takes the couple outside for 5 minutes of night time picture you might find yourself crouched on the ground with a light or having to hold it up high in the air until your arm is shaking. At the end of the wedding you'll be packing up equipment and making 110% sure everything is in the right place with fresh batteries ready for the next wedding. You'll wake up the next morning feeling like you've run a marathon but you'll be looking forward to the next wedding already!
What kind of qualities make a great assistant?
You need to have high energy (weddings are long yet fast paced events and vendor meals are always served last and sometimes the band has eaten yours). You have to be the kind of person who can smile even in stressful situations and you have to be really aware of what a huge important day this is to the couple and their families.
You'll need lots of common sense, the ability to problem solve and also be a mind reader. Just kidding about the mind reading. Not really though! You need to be really personable as ultimately you're part of the overall vendor team with mutual clients - the couple getting married! So you'll need to be aware of and play nice with venue coordinators, wedding planners and videographers. You have to be OK with certain venues or guests treating you like 'the help' which occasionally happens.
Most importantly you'll need a "can-do" approach and enjoy the chaotic and ever changing nature of weddings.
What's the worst thing about assisting?
You lose most of your Saturdays during the summer but you'll cherish your days off and probably find yourself more productive. You'll be sore, even your face will feel sore from the constant smiling. You'll sometimes find yourself in crazy situations - lying on the wet ground to hold a light, getting soaking wet while you hold an umbrella over a bride or Leah. You have to be kind of invisible which I think would be hard for some people.
What's the best thing about assisting?
The experience you'll get. I've learned so much from working with someone as professional as Leah. You'll learn on the job and if you ever start shooting then Leah will happily review your images with you and you'll have the opportunity to talk about how to make an image better. Weddings can be stressful events and I've learned how to be a calm and reassuring presence - small kindnesses like having tissues, band aids and even mints are always so appreciated by the couples.
On the sappy side, I've gained whole lot of respect and admiration for people getting married, seeing all the things they put into creating their own special wedding day and celebrating how much they love each other with their families and friends.
Ahh, Audrey, that last part was kind of touching :) So if you're still reading AND you're interested then please send your resume (optional - include your photography portfolio if you have one) along with why you're interested and why you might be the right person for this role to Leah@LeahHaydock.com
And I will now do my very best Emily impression from The Devil Wears Prada and say "You have some very large shoes to fill. I hope you know that!"