Assistant Interview: Tye Worthington

chris crisman assistant interview tye worthington

More often than not, the smartest decision is also the most intimidating. Only when you get past that initial fear can you realize the true value in taking a leap of faith and really putting yourself out there. In so many words, this is the advice that we gave our rockstar assistant and good friend Tye Worthington last year when he was contemplating a relocating to New York City.

Tye joined up with our team all the way back in 2010 as an intern while attending the Art Institute of Philadelphia. As time went on, he became an assistant and a friend – someone who we can always count on to get the job done, whatever it may be. He’s a workaholic and a friend that I’m proud to have known for the past few years – enough from me though, I’ll let Tye tell the rest…


I asked Tye to tell me a little bit about himself and how he came to be an assistant/photographer in NYC. My questions are in italics, the rest are his words (all photos by Tye Worthington):

What path led you into photography?

During my senior year of high school I attend a vocational-tech program and studied graphics and printing. This  landed me a full time job before I even graduated high school at the catalog printing company, R.R. Donnlley. Day in and day out for two years, all I saw was advertising, fashion and catalog work (JC Penny, Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, etc). Right around the same time outside of work, I started shooting your typical amateur photography stuff.  With the continuous exposure to commercial work, and feeling like I was falling into the pit of a “factory worker” lifestyle while at the printer, I decided to take my photography to the next level and enrolled in school at the Art Institute of Philadelphia.

chris crisman assistant interview tye worthington

So you were at college in Philly, how did you join up with the Crisman team?

While earning my degree in photography I was really eager to learn and gain experience in the field. The career services at school didn’t provide any jobs or internships that I liked so I took it upon myself to find a photographer that I could learn from.

I looked through magazines and wrote down a few names of photographers that I liked. One of those names that kept coming up was Chris Crisman. Not knowing at all if he’d be interested or if he took in interns, I emailed and asked if he wanted an intern for a few weeks. After a few emails and coming to visit the studio, he accepted. While juggling classes, projects, and 2 part-time jobs I came into the studio for 2 or 3 days a week, whatever you guys needed.  Eventually those weeks turned into months, the internship grew less and less official and Chris took me in to be part of the crew.

chris crisman assistant interview tye worthington

What was your favorite shoot?

Oh man. That’s gotta be one of the hardest questions to answer. I would say every shoot that I’ve done with you guys, but there is one job that sticks out in particular. It was an editorial shoot for Runners World Magazine with former Philadelphia photographer Ryan Donnell (now based in the Midwest in Des Moines, Iowa). We drove out to New Holland, Pa to shoot a group of 30 Amish and Mennonite runners who gather each month for a 5 mile run under a full moon.

And yes, they wore their traditional garb; black pants, button shirt and suspenders, but with running shoes. Nevermind the fact that we were working in 30° weather, Ryan and I tried to setup light trap style shots ahead of the runners. Once we got those shots, we drove (I drove with Ryan hanging out of the car window with a camera) along-side the runners photographing them running through farmland populated almost entirely by Old Order Amish, who don’t use electricity from public utility poles. Locals refer the area as the “Valley of No Wires”, and pilots call it, “The Black Hole”. It was wild. Once the run was over, we gathered back at a barn where we were joined with the runner’s wives and children and some church elders who had prepared hot beverages and whoopie pies for us.

It was that moment when I realized how much I love my job. Not only was the process of making these photos challenging and rewarding, but I thought it was so cool that I had the unique opportunity to work and socialize with members of a society that is normally pretty private to the outside world. That shoot made me really appreciate the opportunities and people that we, photographers and photo assistants get to experience. Its what makes this career exciting and refreshing each day.

chris crisman assistant interview tye worthington

What prompted you to make the move to NYC?

I had graduated from college in winter 2011 and was assisting in Philadelphia a good amount. As much as I loved living and working in Philly, there’s just wasn’t an abundance of work to be a full-time photo assistant. Chris advised that with my skill sets, age, and with lack of commitments, that I should relocate to New york where the market was larger and I could find more consistent work.
After a few months of procrastination due to the fact that NYC intimated me,  I finally bit the bullet and decided to give the big city a try. I was ready for a change and equally ready to take that chance. I am very happy that I did because to live and work in New York City is like no other and my career as a photo assistant has become more and more consistent.

Speaking of assisting, we recently had an awesome postcard come across our desk. Tell us about that promo…

chris crisman assistant interview tye worthington

Mainly because I hadn’t worked with any New York photographers while living in Philly, I knew that I had to do something in order to get more work. I had been talking with one of our Crisman crew member Jeff Elkins, who at the time was living and working in NYC as a photographer and photo assistant about getting my name out there in the industry. I remembered he had created a photo assistant promo card and decided that that would be a good place to start.

So I made one for myself.

I knew I wanted the card to be eye-catching, straight to the point, and funny. I also knew that from a photographer’s point of view, its always a risk hiring an assistant that you don’t know. That being the case, I wanted to be sure that my card shed some light on who I was….both on a professional and personal level. It might be tough to see in the photo in this post, but I split up the info on the front between personal and professional. I figured if any photographer who might hire me is going to look at the card for maybe ten seconds, they should at least see something that tells them more than I know how to setup an octabank.

Speaking of that promo – I’m sure Tye would be happy to send you one if you asked nicely enough, just shoot him an email tyewphoto@gmail.com. Also make sure to check him out on instagram and @tonofoworthy on twitter. Og yeah, and if you need an awesome photo assistant, he can do that too.