“Why would you let a stranger take your photograph?” I asked Andrew.
“It’s because I have a trusting disposition,” he replied.
Before we could start, I asked him to remove his mirrored sunglasses. He wanted to sit on the ground, I went onto my knees and asked him turn so that the sun was on one side of his face. Why not? I had just made an image of my previous stranger using strong back lighting, so a different key angle would be a good experience. The reflector in his own hands made the light too strong. In my own hand, further back, it still made him squint. I’m not about having the gear get in the way, so I abandoned the reflector’s use and moved along.
From this short session I gained a quick appreciation of an on-location photo assistant (a stand or person). It made me wonder if I should recruit a friend to accompany me when out to find new people to meet for photographs.
I heard from a few photographers on the project who are on both sides of this assistance fence. For now, I’m going to work on my own, but there are obviously many cases where an extra set of hands and arms can make a huge difference with the equipment.
After this reflector session, I soon had a job to photograph a family portrait. I engaged the use of an assistant to stand 15 feet away and to direct at the grooup the light from the setting sun with the reflector. The subjects were together underneath a roof overhang (because of the background desired of their home) in the shade, The beam of light gave them some extra sparkle. The assistance was so helpful.
For spontaneous street work, an assitant could be a hindrance, perhaps intimidating the prospective subject. What are your experiences with an assistant and do you enable one for candid street work or just for studio sessions?