Should you get yourself an assistant or second shooter?

Let my husband tell you why you should!

by Kurt Jensen, Husband to Stacie Jensen, COO, and self-proclaimed "Bag Boy" (he likes titles)

Like everyone returning to work on Monday morning, I get a barrage of people generically asking what I did over the weekend. 

Most of the time I end up answering that I was a bag boy for my wife while she was doing a photo shoot.  This is always met with snickers and a few jokes which I take in stride and laugh along with.  It is a simple answer to a question asked by someone who doesn’t really care for a real answer. 

The fact is that I really am Stacie Jensen’s bag boy. 

During the week I run Operations for a large automotive supply company.  Two drastically different jobs but when whittled down to the base elements, they are amazingly the same.

During the week I have multiple plants around the globe that I provide direction to multiple topics from Sales strategies, to Operating systems, Quality control, and Just in Time delivery. 

All important activities, but at the same time I recognize that my ultimate job is to block and tackle issues so that the people actually making the money can settle in and get their jobs done and be as efficient as possible.

When I join my wife as her assistant (Bag Boy), my most important task is the same as above.  I ensure that Stacie can exercise her talents without even thinking about the minutia of things that need to happen in order for her to make it an amazing shoot for her clients. 

If you have an assistant (aka bag boy) with you on your shoots, you may be interested in comparing what I have found to be successful.  If you don’t, I am going to suggest that you get one so that you can focus on doing your job as efficiently as possible.  

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Should you get yourself an assistant or second shooter?


The Pep Talk

I am notorious for giving Stacie a good old fashion locker room pregame pep talk.  It has become ritual.  We always laugh about it and I try to be creative each time.  It loosens her up with a good laugh before going into what is always the unknown of a photo shoot.  


You Are The Scout

Always get to the location of your shoot early so that you can scout out the unique.  Stacie has trained me well to be on constant lookout for the “next great spot”.  Collectively we look at location and identify those areas that match the client and have the wow factor.  Two sets of eyes identifying locations is always better than one.  


Get The Contract Signed

As soon as introductions are over, I am in charge of making sure the contract is signed and collecting the money.  Stacie needs to start her job of making the client feel comfortable and so she goes to work on whoever looks like they might need the most loosening up and I get the paperwork signed.  She doesn’t pull the trigger on the camera until I give her the nod that the paperwork is signed.  


The Master Of Equipment

Getting the equipment together.  Before each shoot we talk about what lenses she is going to use and then I just use my head to grab all the other essentials.  I do not want her to have to worry about a thing other than the camera in her hand and getting the next shot.  She will always shoot with her 85mm 1.4 and I will make sure I have whatever else may be needed.  Generally a wide angle lens and sometimes a macro.  I always carry a large diffuser to make sure that the sun is not an issue.  If it is I transform into a human diffuser stand and I will spend the shoot making sure the light is not an issue.  In my pockets I always have back up disks, Tylenol, water, and lip gloss (for her).  



My job is to anticipate so I watch and listen to her talk and move.  I can almost always pick up on her cues of what she may need next.  I don’t want to be asked, I want to be seamless.  If all is going well I scout for the next possible location.  She is too busy and gets too into her shoots so I start looking and occasionally suggesting areas that I may have seen.  There are natural breaks in her shooting that allow for a quick moment to suggest.  Stacie is very vocal and in control on a shoot so I try to provide timely suggestion to keep her rolling.  


Watch The Clock

I am the time keeper.  Stacie gets so into what she is doing that she would stay all day if she is enjoying her shoot.  I keep her on pace.  


The Hand-Off

If there is an equipment change I ensure she gets a lens with caps off and we have an exchange that can only be compared to the passing of a baton in a 400 meter relay.  Super smooth.  She hands me a lens I hand her a lens and get out.  I ensure that caps go right back on the lens she handed me.  No worries of dirt or readiness to go right back on the camera if needed.  


The Pack Mule

I always keep my eyes open for the needs of the clients and my wife.  Most shoots I look like a pack mule as I carry shoes, purses, coats, and sundry other items from one shooting location to the next.  If we are walking across a street I ensure it is done safely, if kids are climbing in a tree, I make sure they don’t fall.  Again, making sure that those doing the work and those being photographed are able to just do their jobs of looking good, shooting good, and being relaxed.  


Closing Out The Session

At the end of a shoot I make sure everyone gets all of their personnel effects back.  Stacie talks to the clients and gives them the generalities of where their client gallery will be and all the other fun closing comments.  While she is doing this I put all of the equipment safely away.  We say our thank you's and our goodbyes.  


Be Their Biggest Fan

On the way home we discuss what went well and what we could have done better.  I tell her how awesome she did and that I am sure she got the shots she was looking for, she always does.  


Should You Get Your Own Bag Boy?

Now I am not saying that everyone needs to rope their significant other into the ultimate assistant.  I am not saying that you need to run out and immediately hire an assistant to go to each shoot. 

I am saying that if you can show up with a well trained assistant, every event will go smoother and you will be more relaxed and able to do your job without distraction.  It could be an older child, a close friend, or maybe even a high school student taking a photography class. 

There are endless options.

Every photographer needs to be able to show up to a shoot with a plan to make their clients feel like they are the most important clients that you have ever taken a photo of.  When they walk away with a great experience they are more likely to come back, and to tell friends how great it was. 

Lets face it, unless you are shooting a wedding or engagement shoot there will be clients that come to the shoot feeling nervous, uncomfortable, and probably like they got dragged to the shoot by a zealous mother or wife. 

If you are consumed with all of the administrative items when you show up to the shoot, they are getting exactly what they feared, a boring business transaction. 

Stacie is a dynamic personality and she can reel in the biggest skeptic and have them believing they are models before the shoot even gets moving.  Her ability to focus on relationships and a fun experience allows her to get great shots of comfortable happy clients. 

She gets to be excited and bubbly and have fun and I deflect all of the boring administrative stuff.  This allows her to Rock her Photography.

Hopefully these few thoughts will help some of you to train a “Bag Boy” that has the vision to provide you what you need to make your life easy so you can concentrate on doing your job.  Creating art.    

1 comment


    Great read!. I myself don’t have an assitant, but my teenage daughter has occassionally came to shoots as she wants to learn. I quickly realized how valuable she was there, by having her do little helpful things. Really allowed me to focus more on the people and mood I was trying to capture verses whether or not I had all the things I brought with. She also isn’t afraid to voice her opinion about what may or may not work as a good idea. For weddings, I would definatly opt for a second shooter.

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