How to Become My Assistant (or Not)

I get a fair amount of emails from assistants moving to Portland looking for work. I totally get it. Portland is a cool place to live and being a photographer is fun. With NYC, LA, and San Francisco very expensive and hard to break into, Portland seems like an obvious place to start your career. Hey, it’s why I moved here.

There is definitely a fair amount of work here. But, there are a lot of assistants and probably more assistants than there is work. So you got to do something special to get my attention (and every other working photographer here).

Here’s an example of what not to do:

First of all, the email isn’t even to me. I’m BCC’d on it. Strike One! Mike mentions they are a graduate of a Canadian art school, but doesn’t tell me if he still lives there or in Portland. Strike Two! He also attaches a resume which really is pointless unnecessary as far hiring an assistant goes. I would have like to seen referrals. Strike Three! I don’t respond to Mike’s inquiry.

On the other had, here’s a great example of what you should do to get my attention:

First, a great subject line and I immediately opened the email. Dan then pretty quickly sums up who he is and why he’s contacting me. What sells me is that he specifically points out something I shot and that he shoots interiors, but wants to see how I do it. I would hire an assistant who likes to shoot interiors 10 to 1 over an assistant who is more interested in something else. I’ve hired Dan five times since he first emailed me and he’s been great. I highly recommend him.

The lesson here is to be straightforward and show genuine interest. It’s a huge mistake to feign interest in what I do, just to get assisting work. Always try to work for photographers that shoot what you like to shoot. You’ll enjoy the job more, learn things that you want to know, and connect with the person you’re working for. It’s a win win.

Willamette Week’s 2010 Restaurant Guide Cover

This is, hands down, my favorite shot I’ve taken this year. Brilliantly art directed by Willamette Week’s Carolyn Richardson, when she pitched the concept to me, I knew it was going to be a good shot. But she really went above and beyond in getting this organized so we could shoot something something truly awesome. I pride myself on being a photographer that works well with others and this collaboration is proof positive.

Shot from the balcony at Clyde Common, the North facing windows brought in beautiful natural light which I kicked back with reflectors at the end of the table for fill. The dark wood floors contrasts so well with the lighter wood table. And the food looks deliciously amazing. The gestures and outfits of the models add elements of style, class, and chic. It feels and look likes what it’s like to be in Portland right now.

Here are some behind the scenes shots shot by my trusty assistant Justin Tunis. Also, there’s a funny animated GIF of the whole shoot the WWEEK crew made.

Continue reading “Willamette Week’s 2010 Restaurant Guide Cover” »

Behind the Scenes – Kids in Architecture

I’ve always had the philosophy that architectural photography is more interesting when you have a people in the shot. A person will give a sense of scale to the building or interior. It also helps you relate to what you’re seeing. And sometimes, it’s great just to have something to fill out the composition. In all cases, it makes the architecture feel more like a real place. It’s not always necessary to have people in the shot, but for many of my architectural clients, showing their design in use really helps them explain their aesthetic to their potential clients.

But, getting people to hold still in a natural pose for 3 to 4 seconds can be a challenge (interior exposures are always long). Often, I just let them go blurry. But there’s good blur and there’s bad blur. Getting good blur takes forethought, practice, and patience.

Here’s how I got some kids to hold still just enough for a shot at Otto Peteresen Elementary designed by DLR Group. It get’s pretty funny once they start “playing.” Who loves their clients? I do.


(video shot by the very talented Jake Stangel)

And here’s how the final shot came out.

At Home with Prometheus

Prometheus - I Am Home

I love my job. I love the work I do and I love the clients I work with. And every shoot is fun because of its inherit challenges: technical, logistical, creative.  That being said, I love shooting personal work and it’s not often you get hired to shoot personal work for a commercial client.

That’s just what Owen Jones & Partners asked me to do for their client Prometheus Real Estate Group. Though I have shot architecturally for Prometheus, art director Craig Skinner and producer Michelle Majeski wanted me to approach the little life moments that happen around the Prometheus properties. To get a variety of feelings and mood, we shot in Portland, Seattle, and the Bay Area of California over the course of 4 days. In the end, I delivered 75 shots for their image library and 4 still life shots that are being used on the home page Promethues’s website.

The shoot was a huge success and a lot of fun to do. Prometheus was so happy, the even blogged about it on their website. Here are some of my favorite shots from the shoot. Continue reading “At Home with Prometheus” »

Getting it Done with The Works

It’s been pretty busy summer here at LB Photo. Some great editorial work is coming out soon, but in the meantime I thought I’d recap some recent commercial work.

The Works is an amazing contractor and remodeler based in Portland, OR. They’ve been responsible for making some of the wonderful glamourous interiors designed by Jessica Helgerson come to life.  They recently hired me to shoot some of their own work and it was a pleasure to photograph. Here are some of my favorite shots from two shoots we did this summer.

Continue reading “Getting it Done with The Works” »