354MC Interview 2

Philip Banks

Philip Banks

Philip Banks

Philip Banks is a London based photographer, assistant and lighting technician and friend with nearly 10 years experience within the photography industry. Upon completing university I too would like to work as a photographers assistant for bigger names, brands and world-renowned photographers, to improve my repertoire and further my technical skills. I wanted to interview Banks to learn how he managed and pursued a career as a photographer’s assistant, to learn what I would need to do and to be aware of any difficulties I may face. I conducted the interview over Facebook and here’s what he had to say:

What exactly do you do?

I’m a lighting assistant and Digi tech for photographers. I also shoot myself and hopefully get more and more clients.

What first inspired you to pursue a career in photography?

I played with my dad’s camera and I would always look forward to seeing my images printed. I liked photographing friends and family messing about

How did you get to where you are today? (Did you study photography? How did you find jobs/projects-word of mouth, interviews? Did having degree help or is it not necessary?)

I took a night class in photography, 3×3 hrs a week. It was a small class and we had the dark rooms to ourself. I then did na art foundation, so that I could go onto do a national diploma in photography, which would then lead me to doing a ba in photography at Portsmouth University. Studying opened up a lot of Ideas and listening to others which help with concepts. But I am working on a lot of technical jobs, which collage and Uni didn’t really help me in this department. As the lighting equipment was lacking. But I learnt a lot working in a studio and with photographers.

What (if any) difficulties did you encounter when trying to pursue this career?

The only difficulties I had were trying to self promote. But there are photographers willing to give you a chance and see what you can do. Which then gets the ball rolling for other jobs.

Describe your average working day working as a photographer’s assistant?

My average day, would be … Getting to the studio or location in good time, checking equipment has arrived. Setting up from the light references your photographer has discussed with you. Making sure equipment is working. We then do test shots and adjust lighting if needed. We change lighting sets if requested. Make sure the images are coming through and are sharp for printing large scale.

What’s the best part of your job?

Best part of my job is getting to travel and meeting new people in the industry, and helping create an image that will be seen everywhere.

What’s the worst part of your job?

The worst part is, working with nasty ppl that don’t think twice about others. It’s their problem.

What projects are you currently working on?

I have a few of my own projects I want to crack on with, but haven’t had the chance. Or making excuses for not shooting.

Who have you worked for? Any highlights?

I’ve worked with a lot of good photographers and we have shot a lot interesting people. My first job would have to be my highlight.

My first job. Was working with a rain machine and pro foto packs. Not a good mix. It was shooting razor light. My first job was Gavin bond. Great guy. Really nice. He Gives new assistants a chance and his 1st assistant Paul. Is the number one. Best assistant I’ve met so far. He was herb ritts 1st.

What advice would you give someone who also wanted to pursue a similar career path to your own?

Be persistent and work hard. Working as an assistant photographer is the best advice I could give for anyone who wants to pursue a career in photography. Work with people you really admire and learn from the best.

Reflections

Upon reflection I feel this interview could have been a lot more informative. However, due to a hectic schedule Banks had limited time to give detailed responses to my questions. The following images below show all the questions I originally sent through to Banks to allow him to read through respond to in his own time.

 

I thought this would have meant more lengthy responses but I understand that Banks was busy with work. However, I do feel if he had answered all of the questions I may have a clearer idea as to what I would need to do to pursue a career or find jobs as an assistant photographer. Nonetheless, Banks has made it clear that working, as an assistant photographer is an extremely useful way of expanding your photography skills and learning about how the industry really works as well as getting to work with some great people. Again I chose to conduct the interview via email but this time used Facebook. I feel this made the interview less formal which wasn’t necessarily a good thing as Banks responses were also quite informal and casual as a result. Upon reflection there are many more questions I felt I could have asked which would have been more beneficial to me for when I begin searching and applying for assistant jobs. I feel I maybe should have Skyped with Philip and had a one on one conversation about his work and how he’s got to be where he is today. Some food for thought and something I can revisit in the future.

David Adams

David Adams

David Adams

I wanted to talk to another professional who works as a photographer’s assistant after speaking to Philip Banks just to see if they had anything more to say. Again I conducted the interview on Facebook and used the same questions I had done with Banks. This interview is with a friend David Adams who has also been working as an assistant photographer for many years down in London. Again it was quite informal and I just wanted to learn a little bit more about the industry and the life of a photographers assistant. I feel I could have had created better questions which would have informed me a little better but there you have it:

What exactly do you do?

Photographer/Assistant and Digital Operator

What first inspired you to pursue a career in photography?

Women. Well actually Films, Film Noir. Then women.

How did you get to where you are today? (Did you study photography? How did you find jobs/projects-word of mouth, interviews? Did having degree help or is it not necessary?)

Without my degree I would be still taking pictures of my friends surfing, take that as you will, good or bad? I don’t know?

What (if any) difficulties did you encounter when trying to pursue this career?

Endless, without challenges it would become boring.

Describe your average working day.

Emails, breakfast, Studio for 8-16hrs (depends on the day?) or drive to location and shoot/assist, after work drinks, meeting, editing, emails, instagram, facebook. That was just today.

What’s the best part of your job? Being Freelance, exhibitions on Mondays when the gallery’s are quiet.

What’s the worst part of your job?

Never not working. Working Sundays.

What projects are you currently working on?

Folio, always folio. An exhibition with old Kodak carousels. Editing a travel story I shot in Morocco.

Who have you worked for? Any highlights?

David Sims? Travelling to L.A./NYC for work.

Who would you love to work with/for? Why?

French Vogue, idolise the aesthetic

 

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