it shocks me sometimes the narrow point of view that is expressed about certain subjects and how little knowledge there is on this forum about professional photography. i thought there were more professionals on this forum but it seems more and more there is not...or at least they remain quiet readers for the most part.
i still work as an assistant and 2nd shooter while growing my own business. been doing this now for 15+ years. most professional gigs benefit greatly from having a good assistant.
as an assistant, i have been responsible for almost every aspect of the job, including gear management, setting lighting, loading film backs, processing and printing film, shooting casting calls, styling sets, digital tech, post production, and even taking the actual shots. heck, my shots are even on other professional photographers websites and have been published with their names on them. its all part of the job.
in my network of photographers i am highly valued for the ability and knowledge i bring to the table. it doesn't trump the fact that its their job and their creative vision. the benefit to me is i constantly get to learn new methods and techniques as well as getting other perks such as contacts and support. when a photographer can't take a job they usually pass along the contact to me. i also have available to me the ability to borrow equipment at no cost when i have the need.
over the last 5 years or so, the shrinking budgets for photography have made it more difficult for photographers to staff a job the way they once did. my response has been to widen my network so that i am covering any future losses by gaining more access to more photographers and their work. in turn my own business has grown year after year from additional contacts.
the world of photography is not black and white for me (excuse the pun) rather i keep the lines blurred, stay diversified, so that my income comes from a variety of sources. its kept me "alive" in this business as i have watched many others business shrivel up and die. my goal, as a professional photographer, is to get the work and fulfill whatever requirement is asked of me, whether that be shooter, assistant, tech or post production. in the end...its all photography to me.