In my opinion, the most under-appreciated crew member on any photo shoot is the stylist assistant. I simply couldn't do my job efficiently without one. They're the ones working hard behind the scenes, helping everything run smoothly.
Without an experienced and diligent assistant working in the trenches while I'm on set, things can easily fall apart. The assistant is my extra set of hands: making sure everything is organized, retagging garments - but also my extra set of eyes which makes it easier to stay within budget, and I’m loathe to even mention it - making sure no one walks away with anything.
On a photo shoot, time is of the essence, and an experienced assistant will know how to have items prepped and ready to go for the next shot. It only slows the whole process down when I have to teach some how to do the job. People may think it sounds easy, but ask any stylist assistant: you have to learn the ropes and it can be grueling work.
A red flag goes up when a client mentions they can get an intern or that they want to forgo an assistant entirely - I know it's going to put a kink in the production.
Recently, a client was adamant about having their own assistant “help” me on a shoot.
Turns out this individual had very little experience in the industry & I had take time away from the shoot to teach her how to steam properly among other skills. To add insult to injury, not only did she show up late, she even asked to leave an hour before the shoot was over on the last day. The last few hours are a very critical time for me during a shoot, as it’s when I need the most help ensuring that all items are re-tagged,packed to go, & that
All loose ends are tied up. Otherwise, the client or production company might get charged overages for staying in the studio longer than expected. At the end of the project, thankfully the client recognized and identified the kink in our system, and made note that we would work with my own assistants on the next project.
When a client has a preference, I have to respect it, but I usually push for my own amazing assistants (shout out to Caitlin Dooley, Elenita Dodia and Michelle Coughlan of Anchor Artists!) because they know how I like to work and things get done without me having to bark orders. I assisted for years and know how difficult not being acknowledged by those crew higher up on the call sheet can be.
Like anything mechanical--you only notice when something goes wrong. A good assistant has a distinct impact but it is not often noticed, as they're constantly working behind the scenes, keeping the production a well-oiled machine.
Liz Teich is also known as The Brooklyn Stylist. You can get to know her by reading our full interview with here HERE.
All images & video provided by Liz!