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An Assistant’s Eye View

November 30, 2013

Hello. I’m Rachel’s assistant, Dan.

Normally I’m somewhere behind the scenes, but when Rachel asked me to take a few shots at a recent shoot and be her ‘guest blogger’ this month, I thought ‘why not?’

Let’s see how this goes…

Photographer's assistant lighting test

I’m very good at being a lighting test subject

I first met Rachel when she photographed my cousin’s wedding at Clearwell Castle in Gloucestershire in 2010. I liked her style of work and approach to photography and got in touch a year and a half later to see if I could gain some experience in the photography field. She agreed and what began as a placement during my final year at university studying graphic design (with a great interest in photography) turned into this part-time role once I had finished. 

Rachel Spivey Photographer at work shooting images for a catalogue

Rachel at work

I have worked with Rachel for two years now and I love how varied the work I get to do is.

Generally I assist on all of her commercial photo shoots and weddings and everyday is different. We can be travelling the country to far-flung locations one day and setting up a studio shoot in Leamington the next. My job can entail everything from transporting kit and setting up equipment to holding ladders and location security, though I do get to use my design skills when styling sets and hand assembling Rachel’s high-end, traditional wedding albums.

Last Friday before we were out photographing the Spring Collection for one of Rachel’s regular and long-standing clients, an organic linen company, Ochre & Ocre.

Tess from Ochre & Ocre setting up a shot

Tess from Ochre & Ocre setting up a shot

Our location for the day was a big town house in Leamington Spa. The owner was very kind and welcoming and seemed cool with us taking over her home for the day. The kitchen/dining room we worked in was beautifully designed and great for the lifestyle shots we set up. It also helped having the space to create the scenes while I got on and prepared something else in a different area of the room.

Tess and Rachel

Tess and Rachel

Tess was very organised, and had planned all the shots in advance. I made sure that all the surfaces and reflective cupboards were spotless and helped to look out for any small details that could be corrected on the shoot rather than in post-production. Ensuring all the angles of furniture were straight and objects were precisely placed might not seem important, but it’s surprising how much is involved on shoots and how long it can sometimes take to set up scenes to get it right.

Tess and Rachel

Behind the scenes

The day itself had a really good vibe, with me, Rachel and Tess all working well together. With a good selection of music being played in the background, we got on with what we set out to do and we were pleased with what was being produced. Lunchtime of course, was three rounds of bangers and mash from Aubrey Allen, which went down a treat and gave us that energy kick for the rest of the afternoon.

The final shots look great, and despite all the attention to detail that went into them, still manage to have an informal, relaxed feel, which really suits Tess’s products.

Room set photography by Leamington photographer Rachel Spivey

A shot that displays a number of items in the range, as well as a close up detail.

There’ll be more to see when the new collection is launched early next year.

My own ambitions are to progress in the photography and design fields, working commercially and producing my own artworks for people as I also specialise in wildlife and artistic photography. I’m learning loads working with Rachel – not only the technical aspects of how to actually achieve a shot (and all the creativity that goes into it), but also how to work alongside lots of different people, whether they are a happy couple on their big day, other designers and creative directors or clients like Tess.

I’m looking forward to seeing all the shots in situ in the next Ochre & Ocre catalogue and really excited about our next job which will be to photograph one of my favourite bands!

I’ll let Rachel tell you all about that in her next post!

Thanks for reading

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