How to approach a pro?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by crimbfighter, Aug 23, 2010.

  1. crimbfighter

    crimbfighter No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Looking for some suggestions here. One of the best ways I learn, is to observe, try, fail, then get feedback. Sooo, something I am pondering is finding a local professional photographer, and asking if I can tag along on some shoots, basically as an unpaid assistant.

    Here's how I was thinking of approaching the topic. Let me know if I am off base on this. Now, to start, I know a pro is conducting his/her business, and as such must protect their business interests such as trade secrets, customer base, ect. With that said, I was planning on approaching it from this angle. As a tag-along, I would be there to be an assistant, more or less. So if it was a wedding, for example, I would fetch gear, help set up, tear down and so on. In exchange, I would have the opportunity to, using my own gear of course, take photos and ask some questions, I say some because nobody wants/needs a major distraction while trying to conduct their business, and I understand that. Also, he/she would get to use any of my photos that turn out, to sell to the customer, and in exchange I could keep copies of them to help build my portfolio and gain experience (though I'm a little concerned there might be some legal issues with that because I would have to give him/her the copyright and then I couldn't really use them for my portfolio, correct?)

    I'm thinking of doing this because I don't have any interest in going pro, but I know there are a ton of valuable things I could learn from going on some of these shoots with a pro and picking their brain. I figure it would be a win/win because I get experience, and the pro gets a helper and maybe a few extra photos to sell.

    So, these are just my initial thoughts. Does anyone have any experience doing this? Am I asking for problems if I were to try this? I'm sure some of it depends on what photographer I ask, but you get the idea.

    Thoughts would be appreciated.
     
  2. nokili

    nokili TPF Noob!

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    I--like you-- would love to do this...would a stranger let me do this?? I doubt it. My suggestion is make friends with some people that know about taking photogs, you could even join a camera club in your area. The collective mind is a powerful thing...remember the Borg?

    Anyway, I wouldn't say don't try your idea, but don't be surprised if you don't get a positive response or all you get is that uncomfortable laugh.

    If you are looking for help on taking better photos I would suggest browsing this site. As I mention in my signature, he has been a huge source of inspiration for me. And his website is a plethora of information.

    The long and short is that you are absolutely right that tagging along would be awesome, and I think you should. But maybe make friends with said pro first :)

    Just my pennies..I could be dead wrong of course
     
  3. crimbfighter

    crimbfighter No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Definitely not dead wrong, and thats a good point about making friends first. It would definitely help break the ice. What I DON'T want is this:

    "Hi, I'm so and so, this is what I'd like to do and here's my shpeal, blah blah blah. So?"

    "crickets, crickets, crickets" :waiting:

    Eyes roll :roll:, and I get that awkward chuckle you mentioned.

    I do go out with a beginners group from time to time, but they are actually, not to sound narcissistic, too beginner for me. Plus, the guys that lead it, who are either REALLY good amateurs or pros have too many people to manage to get much one on one time. I guess I should look for a more peer based group rather than instructional type group.

    I agree 110% about this forum, it's helped me a TON! But, I have taken several courses on leadership and training processes, and by virtue of those, I know this is how I learn best and I think one day with a pro would count for a few months of reading and applying. It's the same reason having a teacher is better than online courses. It's valuable to have someone who was there and can say, "You remember when you were doing this? That's why this happened." Also, both would be working under the same lighting, same room constraints, timing, ect. and to see what they do differently to put their photos in a whole different class would be SOO helpful..
     
  4. LittleMike

    LittleMike No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Try asking any of the local photographers if they offer any "workshops". We have a local guy here who has several workshops a year, only taking three or four people at a time, and does a great job. Of course a fee is involved, but it's like you said, you learn more by being with them than by researching on your own. I'm not sure if they would offer the same kind of deal for an actual client of theirs, such as during a wedding, though.
     
  5. Flash Harry

    Flash Harry TPF Noob!

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    While I was at college I needed to shoot a wedding, I asked the local pro if I could accompany him if he had one booked, it was Feb in Scotland and we don't get many bookings at this time of year as weather is usually horrendous. He had one that weekend and invited me along. We became and still are, good friends, within a short time he asked if I'd like to use his studio/darkroom, this allowed me to not have to book college studio space and have extra DR time producing exam work, it also gave me an insight to running a tog business, where to source materials etc etc. I repaid his friendship by teaching him digital PP which was pretty much brand new, he retired from pro work and sold me lights/enlarger/backgrounds, in fact everything to get me started on my own. So don't worry too much about approaching a pro if your not trying to steal his business there's little to worry about, in fact they may just offer some paid work anyway, being a busy pro is not nine to five and can consume every waking hour, its also quite a lonely occupation so a bit of idle chat now n then is usually a break from the norm. Get out and ask. H
     
  6. nokili

    nokili TPF Noob!

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    Do you live in NM? LOL, not that I am a pro by any means...but I would love to have more friends to shoot with...my only one has an early curfew :meh:

    Like others suggested you might as well try...what's the worst that could happen?
     
  7. amber.martin

    amber.martin TPF Noob!

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    Agreeing with everyone on here, im at a small town in NM and I just made a point to say hi and intrduce myself to other photogs.. became friends and then begged for advice! lol a couple DID let me come along on some shoots and the experience was priceless. also attend as many workshops as possible, or maybe look into your local college? those classes have pretty decent information! Good luck to you!
     
  8. crimbfighter

    crimbfighter No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Thanks for all the replies. I'm glad to see others have tried this, and succeeded! I guess the next step is to set my sights on some unsuspecting pro who lays in wait for their next shoot. Making conversation and friends has always come naturally to me, so hopefully I get a warm welcome and not a double barreled side by side 12 gauge :gun: asking me to leave in a hurray! :lol:
     
  9. Flash Harry

    Flash Harry TPF Noob!

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    Putting people at their ease is a requirement of this job, consequently the majority of social photographers are friendly and good communicators its a case of walk in, reassure the tog you're not after his game and ask for advice, simple networking, a basic face to face skill pretty much lost by a frightened, suspicious generation. H
     
  10. crimbfighter

    crimbfighter No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I couldn't agree more. By virtue of my job I have to be personable and be able to relate to people, my life quite literally depends on it at times. I don't get these young folks who would rather send and e-mail or text than have to make eye contact with a stranger...
     
  11. JClishe

    JClishe No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    You may want to search the Internet for camera clubs or meetups in your nearest big city. Here in Cincinnati we have the Ohio Valley Camera Club. I've never gone to any of their meetups but my understanding is that they get a very good turnout, sometimes 40 or more people. That would be a great way to shadow more experienced photographers.
     
  12. Mustlovedragons

    Mustlovedragons TPF Noob!

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    I have to chime in with my few cents, too. I'm surprised to read all these answers. When I first started, I went up and asked many photogs this very thing and was always granted lessons for free without hesitation. Since that time, I have also been asked and have never hesitated to give what I know in the same way. I have always, since the beginning, found photographers to be quite eager to help each other out. I have even had unsolicited pro advice, before I even got serious, when he saw me doing something off the wall and came right up to me to tell me how it should be done, then spent the next hour with me teaching me. This was in the middle of Yellowstone Park, of all places. Seriously, I find it hard to believe it would be difficult to ask or get a positive response to the question.
     

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