What does your job entail day to day in a normal week?
Everything changes from week to week - I tend to spend one week of every month on a travel assignment which could be anywhere from the west of Ireland to the west coast of America. The rest of the month is mostly based in Dublin, where it's a good mix of actually taking photographs, meeting agencies to show work, talking to other creatives about current projects or at my desk post processing images.
What do you have to know about?
Starting out as an assistant, knowing the basics of what lighting gear is or does is a great help, but you can always ask questions. If you don't know how to do something you've been asked, being honest about it is the best way to learn. As a photographer, you'll have learned skills from working with other photographers as an assistant, such as learning how to coordinate your schedule, talk to clients, as well as know your style and how you would like to go about photographing a commission.
Which pictures are good - on what basis is that decided?
The first question I'd ask, when deciding on if a picture is good or successful, is why it was taken - Was it an advertisement, a fine art landscape, a document of a person or place? I really enjoy seeing a creative take on a commission, which highlights a photographers style or insight - I don't find technical success essential to an interesting or successful image.
Did you study photography or something else and how was it useful?
I studied fine art, which was fantastic for learning how to discuss ideas, develop concepts and think creatively. It didn't cover the technical or business requisites for a career in photography, which I learned from assisting.
What was your first photography job and how did you get it?
My first job was assisting a photographer on a food shoot for a large supermarket chain. I had seen a post from him on Twitter, and got in contact. We had a meeting to see how I'd benefit from assisting him, and how he'd benefit from me - And got a phonecall a week later about the job. I dropped the CF card viewer, didn't know how to put up the large softbox and got covered in squid ink. I assisted him for a year after and learned so much from it!
What's the most interesting piece of work or project that you have worked on?
I'm at an early stage of my career where my most interesting pieces of work are changing quite fast. I recently collaborated with several other talented people to start work on a sporadic print only magazine, titled 'Starveling, Snout & Snug' - In each issue we focus on an interesting, talented person or group of people who, after an interview and a portrait of themselves and their workspace, we find interesting offshoots from the initial article and investigate those for the rest of the magazines articles. It's a really nice project, and I've gotten to meet loads of really interesting people and fascinating spaces.
What advice would you have for someone at school (16-18 ) interested in working in your area of photography?
Look up photographers work, both local and globally and find out what you really like and what you don't like. Talk to the local photographers and see if they ever need or use assistants. Tell them what you'd like to learn. Assisting is a great way of seeing the industry - You can assist a fashion photographer, a food photographer, a commercial photographer and an editorial photographer in the space of a week. You'll know soon enough what you like working on, and what you don't like working on.