When I called Jackie a little over 2-1/2 years ago and invited her to take pictures of my daughter, I had no idea what to expect. Back then, Jackie was still new to the local photography scene and was able to travel to my home to capture our newborn daughter and 2-year-old son. She arrived and started to unload her mountain of props – making several trips out to the car and all the while I was wondering what I had signed up for. But, once we got started, I immediately knew that Jackie would forever be a part of our family.
She was so careful. So calm. So relaxed. So confident. So loving. Toward the end of our newborn shoot, she spent some time working with my son. She was able to communicate with him and get images of the two of them together that I thought were just a dream. She was in a word – unbelievable.
Throughout the session, I felt a connection with Jackie – and over time this connection developed into a friendship. I’ve watched Jackie’s business grow and change. I’ve cheered her on and celebrated successes and listened as she struggled with normal business growing pains. Eventually, it became clear to me that she needed an assistant. After months of persistence, she finally caved and asked me to do the job. I am so honored to be a part of her creative journey and feel fortunate to work with someone I admire and trust so deeply.
With that said, the transition from client to assistant hasn’t been a walk in the park. I’ve learned so much in the past few months about what it really takes for Jackie’s photographic passion to be a reality. Jackie asked me to share some of my insights in the hopes that it might help others fully appreciate what goes into a great session…there are so many, so here are a few that are top-of-mind:
- Time – I knew that my newborn session lasted about 3 hours, but I had no idea how much other time is involved in a session (especially newborn). Now that I am responsible for scheduling, confirmations, reminders, etc…I know there is an amazing amount of PRE SESSION work devoted to each client. And it definitely doesn’t stop at the session…there is editing and getting the client their finished product.
- Editing – Jackie is a true artist. When I got my first set of images from Jackie, I remember thinking how lucky I was to have found her. I couldn’t wait to share the images with everyone and tell everyone I knew about this amazing photographer. I have sat with Jackie and watched her edit – she is so attentive of every detail so that the pictures are as perfect as they can be.
- Props – Jackie’s arsenal of props never ceases to amaze me. I thought she must have brought everything with her to my shoot that day – but now I know how much she devotes to finding the perfect unique props. I have gone on an all-day prop hunting field trip with her and she has the best eye at finding the perfect props.
- Timing – this is probably the area where I’ve learned the most. I was definitely a Jackie-stalker before working with her. I wanted my images the next day…and I would email her and bug her about them constantly…but now I know that she has a process for editing and she must remain diligent with the process so that it is not only fair to everyone, but so that she can keep her life organized.
- Administrative Organization – although I like to think I’ve made things more efficient since joining Jackie’s team , I have to give her credit for the amount of information she has kept organized. She knows her clients. I’ve quizzed her and she remembers the most intricate details about her families. She has an amazing brain and the amount of information that it takes to keep everything organized is mind boggling.
- Training/Workshops – I don’t know how I thought photographers develop their artistry – and I’m not sure if all photographers care about this as much as Jackie does…but she goes to great lengths to continuously improve her craft and hone her talents.
The hardest part about becoming her assistant has been telling people no. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I also know that it must be done. So, just know that if I tell you we aren’t available – I hate it too…I wish Jackie could take everyone’s pictures. Of course, I am completely biased…but I can’t think of anyone who even remotely compares…but, with that said, I also want Jackie to be around for the long-term…so we have to set limits and it is my job to help her stick to them going forward.
In general, going from client to assistant probably isn’t always a good idea. But for me, it has been an amazing adventure. I have welcomed our third child (Louie) into the world since becoming Jackie’s assistant. My children know and love Jackie. Our families are forever connected. I thank God everyday for bringing Jackie into my life. I’m so excited to see what else I have to learn and how much more Jackie can accomplish. 2013 is bound to be a year full of learning opportunities for us both!
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