Behind the Scenes in Ackerman McQueen’s Studio (Photographer Assistant Tips)

Previously, I blogged about my meetings with ad agencies in OKC. One of those meetings was at Ackerman McQueen, a large national advertising firm with a local office. Following that appointment, I got a call from Justin, the AM Photography Manager; he needed an assistant for a full-day commercial portrait shoot in their in-house studio. The studio was so impressive, I thought it was worth sharing with you:

It was such a fun day, with a big creative team including a makeup artist, AM staff, and client reps. The models were employees of the client, posing for portraits that will be used in a campaign to raise money for a local Arts group. A great cause, great people, and lots of silliness and laughing! 


I spoke with a photographer colleague before this job to get some advice about assisting in the studio. Although simple, his two pointers helped me get oriented, and I thought I’d pass them along to any aspiring assistants out there. (Note: this is in-studio portrait advice. The assistant’s role in an on-location/non-portrait shoot might vary.)

  1. An assistant’s primary role is to make the model(s) feel comfortable. Put them at ease, get them laughing to release nerves, offer water, etc. I chatted with the four models in between shots, when the tog and creatives were reviewing the images (since he was shooting tethered) and debating composition.
  2. Never stop moving. Rather than just “watching” as many assistants do (because they are trying to learn, rather than assist), anticipate the photographer’s needs and pay attention to what might be coming next. 

Thanks to Justin and AM for the opportunity!

– HBA 


About Mosaic Collective, LLC

I am Holly Baumann Ambuehl, founding member of Mosaic Collective, LLC, which was founded in early 2017 and is based in Central Illinois. I own and operate Mosaic Collective with my partner in business and life, my husband, Nathan. Mosaic Collective, LLC houses our rental property, my consulting contracts (with the nonprofit and public sectors on various work), and also my commercial and portrait photography business, which has been doing business as Holly Baumann Photography since 2008 long before the formation of our LLC. My blog posts feature client work, but I just love to write, so I also write about owning a business, food and drink, travel, and sometimes, my personal life! I am always honored when clients trust me to capture their vision, and equally so when my readers converse with me about what I've photographed or expressed here. I hope we'll have an opportunity to collaborate professionally and/or become friends. I'd love to hear what you think! - Holly
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