As a third year photography student at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, I had to complete three months of in-service training at a studio and was fortunate to have had the opportunity to complete mine at Flat Art Studios. No truer words than these could explain the role of being an assistant:
Drill Sergeant: Gump! What’s your sole purpose in this Army?
Forrest: To do whatever you tell me, Drill Sergeant!
An existence ruled by the constant crave for caffeine and the need for the physical body and speed of mind of a road runner, I can only give my best try to describe my average day as an assistant at Flat Art Studios. With my arrival I completed my cordial meet and greet of the staff (aka Camilla, thank you for always being friendly) and received my briefing for the day’s shoot: who I will be assisting, who the client is, whether the shoot is in studio or on location and finally, what equipment will be needed. This I followed by having the most important meal of the day to fuel me up and by waiting for the arrival of the client.
With the client’s arrival, I helped like a well-trained mule to carry the client’s mounds of props and food inside. After unpacking, I practiced my well-honed job as a professional barista making coffee/tea for everyone and prepared the studio according to the specifications of the photographer and the client. After a morning of shooting and always epic lunch, I served some more beverages and after the shoot I helped pack up all the equipment. With the departure of the client, I prepared the studio for the next day by sweeping, mopping and tidying up (much to the delight of the future wife) and saved the planet by recycling the leftover food of the day. Finally I would say my goodbyes and return home for a welcome foot massage.
The value of what I learnt goes beyond anything that can be described in words. Not only did I learn about how to photograph food, from Dawie I also learnt the basics of running a successful business such as the importance of punctuality and good communication skills for interacting with clients and understanding their wants and needs. Under the guidance of Dawie, Michael, Donna, Lee and of course Willem, I learnt something specific from each one about photographing food. The patience of the food editors, such as Anke Roux of Fresh Living, is much appreciated since they gladly answered my questions and taught me the ins and outs of styling amazing food. Probably the most rewarding experience I had at Flat Art Studios was working on my first few shoots, finally seeing the amazing end result published and thinking “I ate that”.
Since I chose food photography as my specialised genre, my time at Flat Art Studios has enabled me to use light to my advantage, to style food on my own for my shoots and take this knowledge as a foundation to become a great food photographer myself.
Thank you to everyone at Flat Art Studios and I hope to return soon.