How Do You Go About Finding And Hiring An Assistant?

AssistantOnce you become successful as a real estate photographer the subject of how do you deal with the issue that you periodically may have more work than you can handle. The post about Peggy Taylors’ success in Tampa raised this question for several readers because Peggy mentioned she has an assistant.

First of all I’m doing this post to initiate an educational discussion on the subject of assistants and independent contractors, what follows is NOT legal advice. And I don’t claim to have all the answers, we are just discussing alternatives here.

The most common way for real estate photographers to get help is to contract with someone to do your post processing work for you. Many retouching companies inside and outside your country are setup to do real estate post processing. There’s hundreds of these companies. A few, in the US are listed down on the right lower side-bar under Real Estate photography Processing Services.

One of the key questions with an assistant is, are you going to hire an employee or are you going to work with an independent contractor? What’s the difference?

  •  An employee type assistant: with an employee you are required by the US IRS to pay the proper employment taxes and withholding taxes (other countries may be similar).
  • An Independent Contractor assistant or associate: Independent contractors are responsible for their own employment taxes.

John Mireles over at has a great explanation of the difference in this relationship and why it matters.

To me one big reason that an independent contractor (IC) relationship works better is that real estate photography is seasonal and cyclical and the level of help you need probably varies widely through out the year so if you can find someone you can contract out shoots or processing work to when you need help it is more effective than someone who comes to work for you everyday.

The other issue is how do you find someone you can work with? In real estate husband and wife teams are really common, and they are probably equally as common in real estate photography. But if that alternative works you’ve probably already thought of it.

When my wife Levi and I worked together in real estate over a period of 10 years we almost always had an assistant and our experience was, it’s difficult to find the right person. Over a period of 10 years we had about 6 different assistants. Some were fantastic, some were OK, and a couple were a disaster. The conclusion we came to was that you need to listen to that very small voice that’s in your head when you are deciding. It’s never loud, but it’s usually right! Some times it’s not even a voice, it’s a feeling in your stomach.

What are others experiences with hiring assistants?

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