Student Spotlight: Jung Fitzpatrick

Jung Fitzpatrick is a continuing student and recent alumni of the Photography Department at City College of San Francisco, earning two Photography Certificates,  Studio LightingPortrait Lighting.

In addition to being a photographer specializing in portraiture and food photography, Jung also works as an assistant to San Francisco based, Professional food and still-life photographer, Sue Tallon. Read the interview with Jung below:

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©Jung Fitzpatrick


Why did you choose to take classes in the Photography Department at CCSF?
I took classes at CCSF because I wanted to jump into this field as a second career. Specifically, I wanted technical training in and knowledge of photography (I had an “eye” and love for it but no other foundation). I also wanted to meet and start building a community/network of peers interested in professional photography.
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©Jung Fitzpatrick


What is your role at Sue Tallon Photography?
I have worked with Sue Tallon since March 2016. My responsibilities with Sue are twofold: provide support to her photography work and help manage her studio rentals.

For Sue Tallon Photography (SueTallon.com), I help prep and break down client shoots as well as provide client and crew care during the shoot while Sue is busy photographing. Client and crew care means ensuring that the folks on set have what they need – coffee, food, wifi, gear, etc. I also assist other crew members on-set, especially during load-in and load-out, and will run errands for Sue if needed during a shoot. Additionally, I do some administrative tasks for Sue such as resizing images for her online portfolios, gathering client contact information for marketing, and following up with web account issues.

For SF Photo Space (SFPhotoSpace.com), I respond to and book rental inquiries, manage the studio rental calendar, and make sure that the studios are clean, serviced, and fully stocked, and am on-site to open, supervise, and close the studio for renters. I also help troubleshoot issues that may come up during rentals and assist Sue with marketing, organizing, and other admin tasks related to the studios. Basically, other duties as assigned!

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©Jung Fitzpatrick


What is a typical day like working for Sue Tallon?
There is no “typical” day with Sue since my schedule is flexible, part-time, and mostly on-call. Some days or weeks are very busy with rental inquiries or shoots or both, and others are quiet. Usually I work during Mon-Fri but occasionally, we have inquiries or renters over the weekend. Responding to rental inquiries and renters is probably the most frequent task I have, and helping to maintain the studios.

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©Jung Fitzpatrick


How do you feel CCSF PHOTO prepared you for this position?
I learned of Sue Tallon during my first semester at CCSF when I took the lecture series Photo 52: Photographers and Their Images. At that point I had never thought about commercial photography but fell in love with Sue, her story, approach to photography, and work (commercial food/product and conceptual photography). I asked her a ton of questions and although I did not formally introduce myself to her at the lecture, I told myself that I would reach out to her when I felt I could be of more value to her, potentially as a photo/studio assistant. One year later, I e-mailed her, referencing the lecture I had attended, and introduced myself. I related my experience and knowledge in the field up to that point, and asked if she needed an assistant by chance? At the time, she did not but one month later, she had an opening and she followed up with me.

The classes, resources, and opportunities at CCSF Photography helped prepare me to work with Sue. I’ve taken all the lighting classes in addition to other fundamental courses and worked in the CCSF Photo Issue Lab as an assistant.  The foundation of technical knowledge and familiarity with photography language and equipment gave me more credibility as a candidate to assist professional photographers and work with a local event photography company before I reached out to Sue. These initial photography work experiences gave me the confidence to contact Sue last year. I’m grateful for everything I’ve learned at CCSF, the access to resources as a student and “young” professional starting out in a costly industry, the supportive folks in the photography department, and the opportunities that have led me to where I am today.

What advice would you give CCSF Photo Students to prepare them for a similar position?
1. Take as many photography classes as you can – both technical and non. Exposure to different photographers and their work, and types of photography will inform or open up possibilities that you may not have considered for yourself. Who knows if I would have otherwise reached out to Sue?

Also, to be taken seriously in the field you must have technical knowledge. I recommend taking all the lighting classes, whether you see yourself ultimately shooting studio or ambient lighting. Light is light and photography is about making images with light so you need to understand how to work with it. Starting out, I was interested in photojournalism, which is more reliant on ambient light, but after attending Sue’s lecture and at the recommendation of a photojournalist, I took the studio lighting classes and fell in love with being able to manipulate light in a more controlled way.

2. Work at the CCSF Photo Issue lab! It’s a great way to gain more familiarity with different types of photographic equipment, and, if needed, build your customer service, organizational, and administrative skills. A lot of my work with Sue is administrative and customer-service related. Having a combination of business, people, and photography skills has made me a more effective assistant to her. And having that combination of skills will make me a more successful professional photographer.

Photography is a second career for me, so I already had a lot of organizational and administrative experience but understanding key terminology and having basic competency in photography and handling studio equipment has been essential. And working as a lab attendant was a fun way to get to know photography students, staff (the lab supervisors are awesome!), and faculty and appreciate the work on both sides of the lab window.

3. Be open to different types of photography work and pay attention to what you enjoy (or don’t) and can do well or not so well. When I worked at the event photography company I quickly realized I didn’t want to continue on that trajectory but I made some great friends and contacts there, and the experience looks good on my resume.

Likewise, knowing your own strengths and what you enjoy and are interested in learning will help you determine if managing a photography studio and assisting a photographer is something to pursue. Each studio and photographer will have different needs but generally, I’d say these are the following skills that both require and will determine your success in those roles: strong written and verbal communication, good organization and orientation to detail, hard work ethic, and humility. By humility, I mean asking for help when you need it/don’t know something and the willingness to do grunt work including cleaning and schlepping equipment.
More specifically, for studio management: ability to stay calm and resolve conflict and issues as they arise (a renter’s crew member has a run in with the building manager? freight elevator not working?), and flexibility with your schedule to be on call as needed.

For assisting a photographer on and off set: being observant and anticipating the needs of the people you’re working with, and knowing when and how to communicate with others – often you will be on the sidelines and silent but that doesn’t mean people won’t notice you.

Benefits of assisting a photographer on-set or in a studio:
  • Exposure to the day-to-day business of photography and/or running a studio
  • Networking with other professionals in the field such as other assistants, retouchers, digital techs, producers, stylists, models, etc.
  • Potential for mentorship from the photographer(s)

4. Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone you admire or with whom you want to have a conversation. If you never ask, the answer will always be “No.”

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©Jung Fitzpatrick

For more Jung Fitzpatrick:
www.jungfitzpatrick.com
instagram.com/jungfitzpatrick

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