How incredible it was that it also happened to be the first time I assisted anyone? Sure, I know my way in a set, but I was very, VERY lucky to have such an opportunity.
Lara Jade Workshops
So! Lara was in Milan for a two-days workshop. What can you do in two days? Actually, a LOT.
The first day began with short introduction about her work and a lot of insights about how she progressed in the years and adapted to the industry. Then in the afternoon she proceeded to the shooting session: two different models, three assistants, six sets, sixteen photographers… a lot of photos.
We assistants set the lights following Lara's instructions: she quickly decided everything based on the opportunities offered by the studio. One, two, three… six different light setups. On the spot.
Every workshop attendant had the opportunity to shoot six looks: effectively a full editorial.
The second day was spent talking about retouching (working directly on the first days’ photos), but the most important part was marketing. It's a subject never talked about enough: it's true that a photographer's job is to shoot beautiful photos, but if you can't get in front of your clients all your abilities are effectively useless. Lara instead went and taught all she knew about the subject and explained all her best practices. Invaluable.
Should I Assist?
Since then I assisted a few other times (and had assistants on set myself too), and I can say for sure that that level of organization is incredibly difficult to pull off. The thing that most photographers (but it's valid for any job) don't realize is how big the world really is, how little we know.
The way an international level photographer works is totally different. Preparation, knowledge, experience are things that you can learn with time, but in my opinion, assisting someone is an incredible boost. Articles, blog posts, guides and tutorials do help you to a certain extent, but in order to get to the next level you have to work with/for someone that is better than you. Just helping on set and watching Lara’s workshop helped me a lot!
I definitely recommend her workshops (if it wasn’t obvious already), and if you have the opportunity, you should definitely try and be and assistant for someone!