Interning as a Photo Assistant

My first experience as a Photo Assistant with Pushnik Photo

Ever since I received my first SLR for high school graduation, the affinity I developed for capturing moments of life on camera was born. I began to realize that photography provided an eye into the unique interpretation every individual has of the world, and this was fascinating to me. Photography was always something that I treated like a hobby, but as I progressed through college studying advertising, it dawned on me that I could potentially combine my passion for photography with my knowledge of marketing in order to work in brand photography.

I found Pushnik Photo through a recommendation from one of my mom’s co-workers. After doing some research on the brand and learning that the head photographer, Jon Pushnik, is also a drummer, I sent a cold email with a résumé and a portfolio containing some of my work from the past year or so. Eventually they responded with an invite to come check out the studio and meet some members of the team. It was important for me to make a genuine connection with Jon and his other assistants because of the admiration I had for their work, but it was their personalities that really made me want to inquire about an internship. Thankfully they agreed, and so began my journey as a photo assistant.

One of the biggest learning curves for me was becoming familiar with the set equipment. There are so many different types of lights, diffusion, stands and grips that even most seasoned veterans will have trouble here and there. It can be daunting to be faced with this and the need to act quickly and smoothly at the request of the photographer.

Acting swiftly and smoothly also requires being a person that is easy to work with. Nobody wants drama on a set and nobody wants to deal with attitude or ego. Everyone there is working to accomplish the same goal, and the success of a shoot is dependent on every single person on set working as one. If someone isn’t upholding their portion of the work, not only does it affect them, it draws somebody else away from their work to take care of whatever that person is not. Being respectful and genuine is also an amazing way to make connections. It’s important to develop a network of other people in the industry because they may be able to offer you work or recommend you for work in the future. Word of mouth is how most studios hire assistants, so it’s of the utmost importance to make yourself reputable and someone people want to work with.

My time at Pushnik Photo has included work with some household names like IBX and Fanatics. It is an invaluable experience to be able to see how shoots of this caliber are conducted from start to finish, and also interview a member of the team about the entire process. Some of the most important things I learned are how the studio is hired for jobs, and how they acquire new clients. It was also amazing to be able to ask a studio with such big clients where they felt they needed improvement.

After spending around 3 months working on set, I’m able to say that my photography and knowledge of business practice has increased 10 fold. This internship has gone better than I could have ever imagined. Not only did I find a work environment that suited me and my interests, I also made friends that I will continue to be in contact with even after my time as an intern comes to an end. Being able to get my foot in the door in the industry and make connections has given me an incredibly solid foundation to pursue a career as a photo assistant and fueled my passion for photography even further.   

One comment

  1. Hi Sam, I loved hearing about your photography journey! It’s cool that you’ve combined your passion for photography with your studies in advertising. Your experience at Pushnik Photo sounds very rewarding, especially getting to work with such big names like IBX and Fanatics. I’m impressed by how you’ve overcame the challenges of learning about set equipment and the importance of being easy to work with on set. It’s great that you’ve also taken this opportunity to network and make connections in your desired field!

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