Photo Assistant Boot Camp

Photo Assistant Boot Camp & Studio lighting Basics


May 3-4 2014

For the last 12 years, we have offered our Photo Assistant Boot Camp; and as the commercial photography industry evolves, so have we.

Working as Photographers Assistants is one of the best ways of learning the inner workings in the commercial photography industry. In addition working as a Photographers Assistant is also the best way to sharpen your: on-set technical, production and lighting skills.

Our Photo Assistant Boot Camp compresses much of that learning time into a 2 day intensive hands-on workshop. In our Photo Assistant Boot Camp, attendees will be working with every piece of equipment that they would regularly come across during your first 6-9 months of working as a photographers assistant on commercial shoots. Our proven method of teaching old-school photo knowledge, on set skills, set-etiquette, and business practices mean you are better prepared for working in real world studio situations.

Photo Assistant Boot Camp: What's it all about?

Hands on, because there is no better way to learn photography.

This workshop is for both photo assistants as well as those photographers looking to improve their studio lighting skills. The lighting setups that I present in this workshop are based upon the exact lighting setups or variations on those that that I was hired to create for those famous and in-famous photographers I worked with during my days as a Photo Assistant and Lighting Tech.

As the photography industry evolved from film to digital, the role of a Photographers Assistant has evolved and Photo Assistants must now become more technically proficient in lighting than ever before as their roll on set increasing evolves to that of: "Lighting Technician".

Traditionally, Photo Assistant skills were taught by the Photographers they worked with and other Photo Assistants. The more you assisted and the more diverse a group of photographers you assisted, the more you learned; thus, the better your skill set become and the more value you as an assistant you had to bring to the production.

When I first started working in the commercial photo industry as a photo assistant I had the privilege of working with some amazing old school photographers as well as many of the famous NYC. photographers whose images we have all admired for years.

In the past most photographers did their own lighting and had exceptional photographic skills both of which they were willing to pass along to those photo assistants willing to put in the time and effort to make themselves a valuable member of the photo team. That changed during the early to mid-90's when a new crop of photographers were better known for their outstanding Art Direction skills, and came to rely on their photo assistants for all on-set production and lighting skills.

We've all attended those photo workshops or events were you walk into a room and are greeted with row upon row of folding chairs. This is hardly the most appropriate way to teach photography of any sort. It makes very little sense to teach lighting or photography in an environment that is in no way connected to the realities of the "Commercial Photo experience".

For that reason I have for the last 12 years have been presenting our Photo Assistant Boot Camp, and Studio Lighting Workshops in many of the real NYC. photo rental studios of all descriptions, shapes, and sizes that I have personally been working in during my 20+ years in NYC. From huge 6000 sqft. spaces with 20 foot ceilings to 1200 sqft. photographers lofts in mid town Manhattan. Because there is no constant or standard that any photographer or assistant should expect to find. As a professional it is our job to be adaptable to any working environment or situation and be the best possible and most skilled individual on the photographic team in order to create the best possible images.

At our Studio Lighting Workshop I attempt to create as close to a real world shooting environment as possible that is also interlaced with the learning experience.

Within the first hour you will be handling pro-studio lighting equipment and setting up lighting scenarios. At the same time you will be introduced to the equipment that is being used across the country in pro rental studios and high-end commercial shoots.

Were other similar events will have you listening to sales reps talk about a manufactures equipment, with use you will be learning and using those studio lights almost immediately.

I created these workshops because there are few old school photographers or experienced photo assistants around any more to teach the basics so we have taken it upon ourselves to do so. I have also seen first hand that the photo schools simply are not teaching the skills needed to work in the real world of commercial photography.

And because I had the great fortune to have worked with and learned form some of the most knowledgeable people in the photo industry, I feel that it is incumbent upon me to pass that knowledge along to others for as long as it remains useful.

While I would hope that everyone would attend our workshops, which have helped produce some of the finest photo crew members working today; I can not stress enough the importance of educating yourself by attending as many professional photography workshops as you possibly can.

"There is no one right way of doing things" in photography (and anyone that says other wise clearly does not have a clue) and the tricks and tips that you will learn at my or others workshops will in time prove to be invaluable.

James Sullivan 2013


Our workshops have trained people from the following studios: Christopher Miscued, Gregory Heisler, Russell James, Timothy Hogan, Michael Thompson, Annie Leibovitz, Sand Box Studio, Industrial Color, FotoCare rental, American Express publishing, QVC, Publishers clearing house, Conde' Nast studio, Scheimpflug digital.

Workshop details

  • Class size limited to 10 People

    So you get the most hands on time and attention learning on set.
  • A portion of the topics to be covered are as follows.

        Flash Meters
        Color Temperature meters
        Color Correction  C.C. Filters Gels
        Flags, Nets, & Cinefoil
        Soft Boxes, Light modifiers
        The perfect White Background
        Studio Strobes
        Business practices  marketing yourself
        On set etiquette
        Marking Stands & tripods
        Coiling cords
        Light stands & grip equipment
        Your Kit, what you should be carrying
        Set cart organization
  • Receive a FREE copy of our eBook: 'How to be a Photo Assistant'

    This eBook is the compilation of everything that I and others have told new assistants first thing in the morning when we are standing around the set cart: drinking coffee, cleaning cameras, shucking film, formatting CF cards, and they ask me:
    "How do I get to be a photo assistant? How do I get work.?"
  • Receive a FREE copy of our 1ProPhoto.Com Photo production database - 'Personal Edition'

    A stand alone application for Mac or PC. It is a more advanced version of the database that I have used for years to help keep track of your industry contacts, their studio information, contact numbers and info on who they are, what they shoot, and more.
  • Receive a FREE copy of our Lighting Diagrams App Vol.1

    An interactive CD of select lighting diagrams that we present during our workshops. Includes full lighting schematics, equipment used and technical details.



PLEASE NOTE: We do not allow the photographing of any portion our events in any fashion including but not limited to: iPhone, iPad, or other mobile devices.
If this is a problem for you please do not sign up. Unfortunately it has become necessary to implement this rule due to previous workshop experiences.


"Refer a Friend Discount".
After you successfully signed up for any of our workshops both you and I will be notified by Paypal. At that time you may then refer a friend to our workshop and have then email me directly. I will then send them an email with a link to our discounted registration page. And after they have successfully signed up I will instantly refund $25.00 to you. Please limit 4 discounts per full paid user. Those receiving the discounted Workshop fee are not eligible for any further discount offers.


Workshops and the travel costs associated with them are a tax deductible (photo education) business expense. Confirm this with your accountant.

Due to the productions costs in producing our workshops we need a minimum of 8 people registered to present this workshop. Should the number of sign ups fall below this 10 days prior to the event date the workshop will need to be rescheduled. See Terms and conditions for further details.

About the Instructor

James Sullivan has been working in the commercial photo industry for the past 22 years, 18 of those in NYC. Beginning as a Photo Assistant in Boston and 4 years later moving to NYC. he began to be hired primarily as a lighting technician and for large format cameras by photographers and later moving on to producer, photographer/director.

Recently James has been working on a series of Photography & Lighting tutorials for 1ProPhoto.Com as well as working with his commercial clients.

Some of the more notable photographers that James has worked with over the years as a photo assistant / lighting tech include: Mark Seliger, Francesco Scavullo, Steven Klein, Kelly Klein, Taryn Simon, Warwick Saint, Norman Jean Roy, Michel Comte, Anotine Verglas, Gregg Delves, Guzman Studio, Marco Glaviano, Andrew Eccles, Christopher Micaud, Diego Uchitel, Frank Ockenfels and dozens more...

Drawing on all this experience James pulls back the veneer of photographic lighting and presents his workshops in a manor that is easily assimilated by all attendees.

James has been presenting his Digital Tech workshop featuring Phase One digital backs and Capture One Pro software since Jan 2004; and has also been teaching his Photo Assistant Boot Camp and lighting workshops since 2005.

“During my workshops I like to pull back the veneer of commercial photography” “ Many photographers assume that there is some kind of trick or ‘Magic bullet’ to making great images. In reality it is more about learning how to see, paying attention to detail and knowing your lighting and how to make it work for you rather than being a slave to the equipment.”

On location in NYC with Mark Seliger shooting Jerry Seinfeld for Amex

On location out side of San Miguel D'Allende Mexico for Macys West


Terms and conditions, Cancellation Fees and Policies for 1ProPhoto.Com Workshops. - Please Read
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We rely on your attendance to make important production arrangements,
Due to equipment and production costs, we do not provide refunds.
Should you be unable to attend the course you registered for you may transfer your Workshop fee to attend a future workshop, or you may independently sell your course registration to someone else. Should you transfer your course space we must be notified of that sale by both parties.
In the event that the registration for any event is too low we will transfer all sign ups to the next event date or a future event date that will accommodate your schedule. The 1ProPhoto.Com Workshops is not responsible for cancellations due to medical emergencies. The option to reschedule your workshop due to a medical emergencies will be considered on a case by case basis.


We highly recommend purchasing travel insurance. In the event that a workshop must be cancelled due to inadequate enrollment, all fees will be refunded in full with in 4-6 weeks of cancellation, or may be transferred to another workshop within 12 months. The 1ProPhoto.Com Workshops is not responsible for reimbursement of non-refundable airline tickets or related travel fees in the event of a workshop cancellation. Please check on your class status before making travel arrangements.