Five Reasons to Hire an Assistant for Your Mini Sessions
If you are a professional photographer who has either thought about, or has already run mini sessions and had a rough go of it, this blog is for you! Hiring an assistant for your photographer mini sessions will hands down be one of the greatest investments you can make to your rollout.
To begin I want to discuss the tasks photography assistants should be assigned so that it will make your life easier when finding the perfect fit.
ONE: Assistants Greet Your Clients
Scenario One: With Assistant
Photographer assistants will greet your clients. Because your mini sessions should be booked back-to-back there will be times that you will be finishing up with Client A when Client B arrives on scene. This is the perfect opportunity for your assistant to greet your client and get them situated. Your assistant will greet your client with a friendly smile, and lead them to the “staging area.” Once there, your clients will leave all personal affections behind before proceeding to Station One. Once you then finish with Client A, you can immediately proceed back to Station One to start shooting Client B. This system repeats itself throughout the entire term of the mini session.
Scenario Two: Without Assistant
You have no one to greet your clients. So as you’re finishing up with Client A, Client B is left to either:
- The Car Fanatic. The Car Fanatic loves to sit and wait in their car. They think they are being helpful and staying out of your way. The problem. This wastes valuable transition time between clients, and often requires you to head to the parking lot to find them. No good.
- The Interrupter. The Interrupter loves to get all up in your business. If you’re finishing up with Client A, Client B loves to approach you with their loud and noisy crew. They don’t have good manners and completely ruin the vibe you had going with Client A. Again, no good.
- The Wanderer. The Wanderer shows up early, sees you’re busy, and wanders off. Often finding a playground or path to keep their children distracted, which usually results in dirt and wrinkles. No good.
Want any of that?
Didn’t think so.
TWO: Assistants Pose Your Clients
Hear me out. I know you’re feeling like you’ve lost all control of your mini-session for your assistant to be posing your client, but seriously. It works. I promise. And absolutely no control is lost.
How do you keep control. Come prepared.
Hand your assistant a list prior to the session that lists every pose with every station. Then, while you’re adjusting your settings for ever-changing light, or moving your stool forwards in station 2 because the shadow keeps getting longer, it gives your assistant time to set up the shot.
It really comes down to client experience. You want your client to not feel the rush and bustle of a 15 minute session, and so having ONE person be the lead on them (the assistant) makes them feel like they aren’t being bounced around between stations, poses, AND photographers.
THREE: Assistants Watch for Weirdness
These sessions are short and sweet and because you are going to be focused on light, settings, and big posing issues you really need an extra set of eyes to take care of the “weird.”
Because the “weird” either causes you to have to throw the image during cull, or you have to spend extra time editing to save the image – neither are good for your bottom line.
So, what is weirdness?
- Mom’s legs crossed at ankles
- Dads hands placement
- No ones hair is in their eyes, nose, or mouth
- No one is chewing gum
- Dad doesn’t have keys, wallet, or cell phone in his pocket
- Kids are not making crazy faces
You get the idea…general awkwardness.
FOUR: Assistants Get the Smiles
This is where you need an assistant that is okay being crazy. And I mean will “stand on her head and do cartwheels” for a smile crazy. Luckily in all my years assisting my clients during mini-sessions (Yep! You read that right – My clients can hire me to assist for their mini-sessions which means I also walk them through every single step of how to set it up and run it start to finish!) I haven’t QUITE had to go that far. But I will do basically anything for a smile, which includes:
- Singing a kiddos favorite song non stop for 15 minutes straight (I usually leave a mini-session unable to speak).
- Doing any slap-stick comedy I can come up with – such as – pretend wacking my photographer on the head with a rubber chicken (always a classic).
- Playing peek a boo from behind my photographer.
- Wearing funny hats, crazy glasses, holding pinwheels, and sounding noise makers (we come with a large basket of props from me to pull from.
- Playing a sneak and tickle game with the little guys.
Bottom line. You need an assistant that is A-Okay being crazy, funny, and personable with your clients. Someone you are completely comfortable getting close to and working with. When I am not greeting, leading, or posing clients, I spend my time glued to my photographers back so that all eyes go directly to her.
FIVE: Assistants Watch the Clock
They need a watch and they need to know exactly how much time they have at each station. For example, with a four station set-up you would have three minutes at each station. Giving clients 2 minutes to move between the four stations (remember, your stations are all of 10-15 feet apart, or sometimes just a turn to the left for a different background). Some stations will take a little longer than others, you’ll learn this within the first couple of clients.
But it’s your assistants job to keep an eye on the watch and quietly give the you time cues.
I am constantly communicating with my lead photographer…
- We need to move in 30 seconds!
- Did you get the shot, we need to change it up.
- This doesn’t seem to be working with the kiddo, do you want me to change the pose?
- We’ve been here to long, we’re going to have to skip a station.
- Your next client is ready and waiting, I am heading to greet them.
Once you find an amazing assistant the two of you will become a well oiled machine of running and managing mini-sessions. You will begin to be able to think as one and anticipate what the other person needs. When this happens, it’s an amazing thing and something not to be taken for granted.
Four Tips for Finding a Solid Photographer Assistant for Your Mini Sessions
You can find photography assistants by hiring:
- Friends or family that are really outgoing and organized – if they have an understanding of photography, all the better!
- Newbie photographers that are looking to gain experience.
- There are always photographers looking for extra cash and experience. Joining or advertising in local photography groups or even marketplaces will help you connect.
- Experienced photographers.
- Doing a trade with another local photographer is a great option. You assist for their mini-sessions and they can assist for yours!
In the over decade of running mini sessions with my clients I had discovered client tardiness to be a HUGE pain point for them. This is why I created a professionally written 26-email template workflow to solve this exact problem. Since my clients have started implementing this workflow for their mini sessions, their rate of client tardiness has plummeted to almost 0!
Why? Because we have trained them that they CAN’T be late. You’re late. You miss your session. You want that? No? Okay end of story…don’t be late. =)