Toby Smith

Photographer's Assistant and Junior Editor Needed


Who by?

Toby Smith, an award-winning contemporary photo-journalist and videographer based in Hackney, London and represented by Reportage by Getty Images. He needs an assistant on international personal, commercial and editorial stories with stills, 4K video, time lapse and animation. The assistant will be working on location but critically also in the studio on Premiere CC, managing digital workflows, equipment and negative scanning.

What is he looking for?

An energetic, fun but professionally minded individual to help with the full life-cycle of projects with excellent planning and attention to detail.  They would be both elevating production value and helping meet tight delivery deadlines. Any one week the assistant could be a  2nd camera op , sound guy, trimming rushes in Premiere, maintaining  equipment, renting an Imacon X5 or queuing at the Post-Office.

Where does that all happen?

Primarily  based in a small studio in Dalston, London but the shoots could and will be anywhere. Any applicant will therefore need both an EU passport, a clean UK driving license and no criminal record.  Toby’s projects are often in demanding locations so when out of the studio you can expect an equal mix of long drives, economy flights, posh hotels, camping and late nights backing up work.

Still reading, who are you?

Hopefully an ambitious, junior photographer/editor with an already broad-skill base or assistant at the start of their career. You maybe studying part-time but definitely committed to learn and make things happen in the lens-media and documentary world.  You are interested in learning the whole craft of photography but recognize it needs to be a viable business.

How much time would you need to commit?

Applicants should have the flexibility to commit at least 3 days a week, year round, but also expect to sacrifice occasional weekends for extended travel assignments and make client deadlines.  Impeccable time keeping and forward planning is essential with mutually agreed dates for shoots and commitments but also your own course deadlines,  personal commitments and holidays.

What do you get in return for that commitment?

You would be getting paid a monthly pro-rata salary depending on your experience and skills in the studio and on location. Your responsibilities and salary will evolve together over a minimum of 1 year leading to your own independent practice, extra-income and career growth.   You may have opportunity to visit some incredible locations but this is always dependent on a client’s budget.

The Gunhilde Maersk – 4K Time Lapse

Any other valuable perks of the job?

Its more of a modern apprenticeship than a job. Outside of agreed work days you will have full access to an Aladdin’s Cave of digital photography, HD and 4K video, lighting equipment and an Imacon X5 scanner. You are encouraged to use it, practice with and become an expert for your own personal or professional projects. You will have your own Mac work-station with Adobe CC in a secure photography studio and access to the main 4K work-station at weekends.  Dialogue, advice, help, support to your photography and career will be given and shared but don’t expect clients on a silver platter.



A herd of Zebus in the country's largest market; Ambalavao. Ambalavao is the location in Madagascar where herdsmen come to trade their cattle after walking their herds from virtually every part of the country. The zebu market takes place on Wednesdays and Thursdays on a hill approximately 1km south along the RN7 road.


View from the summit of a peak in Andringitra National Park at sunset.


Overview of the main mining area to the West of Ilakaka town centre. The main sapphire mine is operated by "Colour Line" and is referred to as the "Swiss Bank" on account of its Swiss entreprenerial owner. The mine is operated on a waged basis of $2 a day per worker. All risk and benefit on the mine-owner. All excavation is by hand with only mechanised water pumps. The main mine is over 12 years old and 30m deep.


A Malagasi ranger patrols a sea cucumber farm on the coast. Setup with international investment this farm exports adult Sea Cucumbers to the Chinese Mainland as a delicacy and traditional medecine. The farm was started to relieve pressure on fish and octupus stocks in the region by diversifying the income streams.

Ramanofana, Madagascar


Undercover photography from within one of the worlds' largest and most controversial nickel/cobalt mines. Ambatovy Sherrit are excavating primary rainforest for top-soil rich in Nickel and Cobalt Ore which is transported by sludge pipe to their refinery in Tamatave. Controversy surrounds the deforestation for both the mine and pipeline but also social political probklems in local communities.


At 4pm everyday workers and mine gangs descend on Manombe and Ilakaka to sell the sapphires and other prescious stones they have found in the surrounding landscape. The dealers hold shop in fortified trading posts and examine the rough, uncut stones with a special torch and water-bowl until 8pm. Violence is common place among the miners before and after the deal is done. The rough stones are exported for cutting, polishing and sale. Stones are regularly sold for upwards of $100 but can retail overseas for 10 times that amount.


Overview of the main mining area to The main sapphire mine is operated by "Colour Line" and is referred to as the "Swiss Bank" on account of its Swiss entreprenerial owner.


Photograph showing the bustling main TaxI-Brousse station on the edge of the city.


Illegal rosewood containers a container in the port town of Vohemar load a boat destined for Mauritius. Each container can hold between 150-250 rondin and is destined for China and in some cases Europe. Although the government issued a blockage on the port the local traders must only pay a token fine before it can be exported.


Ancient Renaults and Citreons ply the French colonial streets of the capital and all the major satellite towns. With no public transport or official bus system these small taxi's often crammed to breaking point ferry people and goods across town and through the suburbs. Much of Antananarivo’s architecture remains from French colonial period. A lone Renault 4 taxi illuminates the streets of Antananarivo. Since a political terrorism scare in March the street's remain eerily quiet after 9pm. Partly due to a weakly enforced curfew but also due to the rising crime levels and violent crime since the enforcement system began deteriorating.


A beached ship lists on the beach North of the port, Fort Dauphin. The bay contains treacherous tides and shifting sand bars and along the beach lie over 30 shipwrecks. With cargo being easily salvageable it is known that many unserviceable vessels end their days here for fraudulent insurance claims.


Night photography of a traditional fishing boat on a beach.

Still interested, you want the small print then..

You will be supporting the full-life cycle of projects and a working photographer. This will be reflected by your day to day responsibilities where assisting on location is only one component of your role. You should be prepared for the reality that not all clients can afford international travel expenses beyond the photographer and editing can take much longer than the shoot itself.

A salary will be offered and evolve depending on experience and skills but will be no-less than £15,000 P/A at start.    This will be a hard-working position with occasional long-hours but deep over-time and its related travel expenses will be compensated in addition to the salary.

You will be responsible for travel to/from East London, your own taxes, personal medical and travel insurance. You will also be responsible for the insurance excess on equipment you (hopefully won’t) damage or lose during your own shoots.

After a 30 day probation you will be expected to commit for a calendar year to ensure both you and Toby get maximum and mutual benefit from the working relationship.  Your position, work-pattern and salary will be reviewed bi-monthly.

Go upstairs and do your homework…

Before applying have a good browse of and @tobysmithphoto to get a taste and feel of the type of projects, media and research you will be supporting. Importantly consider the logistics and complete work-flow before and after a shoot, not just time on location.  You will be expected to contribute, where you can, from Day 1 but rapidly learn and be taught the location and editing skills to contribute reliably and take on more responsibilities.

Does this sound perfect for you?

If you do not meet the above outlined criteria and requirements of this position please do not waste your time applying.

If you do, please send in the body of an e-mail to [email protected]:

A paragraph (200 Words Max) on each of the following:

1. Who are you? – Background, interests, motivations and an insight into your character

2. Where are you now? – Career, your skills on location with equipment, digital workflow and in the studio with Adobe CC.

3. Why do you want this job? – What part of this role and its perks benefit and interest you most.

4. Why should you get the job? – You will be a serious financial and time investment to the photographer. What will you offer in return?


Please also send via web-links, not attachments:

  • An example of your own work that you are either proud of or would want help improving.
  • Something (anything) you admired, were moved by or were inspired by this week.
  • Your web-site and/or twitter feed are of interest but not essential.

Unknown Fields Trip – Madagascar 2013

Deadlines and Timings…

  • Application Deadline is Tuesday 7th of October.
  • Applications will be read in the order they are received.
  • All applicants will be called in or declined for interview by e-mail on Thursday 9th of October.
  • Successful applicants will be offered informal interviews in Dalston on 13th and 14th of October.
  • Position starts between 20th October and 3rd November by mutual agreement.