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Photographer's assistant

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Summary of occupation

A photographer's assistant undertakes many of the tasks required in organising photographic shoots and ensures that they run smoothly.

Their work can range from basic manual tasks like helping the photographer carry bags and set up lights to organising images as they are shot. Other tasks include loading film, logging shot film, numbering rolls and keeping track of frames on test rolls of film. Established assistants will have an in-depth knowledge of the techniques and styles that a photographer will need to complete a shoot.

ANZSCO description: Assists photographers in taking and developing photographs.
Alternative names: Assistant Photographer, Second Photographer
Job prospects: Limited
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

Photographer's assistants need:

  • good eyesight (which can be corrected) and an attention to detail
  • an enthusiasm for the technical aspects of photography
  • common sense, logic and lateral thinking skills
  • strong organisation skills
  • people skills and diplomacy
  • the ability to learn on the job, and, most importantly
  • the confidence to ask questions
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Working conditions

Photographer's assistants can be required to work long hours on shoots that, depending on lighting requirements, may take place at any time of the day. Shoots can also be scheduled in varied weather and climatic conditions outdoors. Alternately, photographer's assistants will work indoors, working alongside photographers in a studio, or undertaking digital photo manipulation in an office setting.

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Salary details

On average, photographer’s assistants, classified under other miscellaneous technicians and trades workers, can expect to earn between $800 and $999 per week ($41 600 and $51 999 per year), depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience. As a photographer’s assistant develops their skills, their earning potential will generally increase.

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Tools and technologies

Photographer’s assistant’s need to be familiar with a wide range of photographic equipment, which, depending on the type of photographer they work with may include either digital or film cameras, lighting equipment and film processing and developing or darkroom equipment. They may also be required to be competent in photographic manipulation software such as Photoshop.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

You can work as a photographer’s assistant without any formal qualifications and get training on the job. However, entry into this occupation may be improved by obtaining a qualification in photography or photo imaging.

The Diploma of Photo Imaging and the Advanced Diploma of Photography are offered at TAFE.

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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