Photog assistant wants to spread wings

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by sbottitta, Jun 17, 2007.

  1. sbottitta

    sbottitta TPF Noob!

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    I have been assisting my talented and awesome boss and have no qualms with how she has organized my apprenticeship. On the side, however, I have been sniffing out any work that does not compete with her field; namely, pet photography. I put an ad up on craigslist.com once a month or so, and have been building my portfolio, as well as making a few bucks on the side.

    Here's the catch: I have received an email from a lady who would like me to shoot her wedding. It's pretty far away from my boss's stomping grounds (roughly 30 miles) but she has travelled much more than that in the time that I have worked with her. If I take on the job, I'll of course inform my client that out of the four weddings I listed in my resume, only one was my own independent undertaking, and I plan on charging about 20% of my boss's rate.

    A couple more details to throw in the pot: my boss has generously taken me from absolutely nowhere and brought me straight into the field, and taught me an insane amount of need-to-know information about the business. I am more than eager to give some of this knowledge a test-run, but I am still an amateur and am weary of how to go about my first solo wedding. I have had experience in going solo with my sister, but I was guided by the pastor, his wife, and of course my mom. I've had good reviews on my work and am competent in conducting business, but I don't know if I'm ready to take on this level of responsibility.

    So, my questions for you all:
    1.) What are some ways to tell that I am ready for my first wedding?
    2.) How to approach my boss on the topic without appearing as a competitor or a threat? She has shown subtle and rare signs of being defensive and leery of my making an impact on her business.
    3.) She introduced me to foliosnap.com and it seems to me the best way to promote myself... dare I? What if she were to see it? It's a major website, but I would never have discovered it on my own.
    4.) How long can I debate with myself before I contact the client with a commitment to meet and present a contract? Two or three days?

    There are numerous other details I'd like to mention but I know she is always researching her craft on the Internet, and would not want her to happen upon this thread and take it the wrong way. I'm sure others have been in my position so there's no way to associate the thread with me, then again I did stupidly use my actual name for the username... :confused:
     
  2. newrmdmike

    newrmdmike TPF Noob!

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    1. lets see your portfolio
    2.tell her like you told us, and ask her what she thinks, shes kind of a mentor for you and her advice will be valid. if your charging 20% of her rate its definatly not a wedding she will even want to compete for.
    3.she told you about it for a reason, ask her how she feels about you beginning to set these types of things up while your apprenticing, you won't be an apprentice forever, and she took you on knowing very well that you may end up being competition.
    4.more, you can wait a week or two depending on when the wedding is. i book most of my weddings 10 months in advance, so a week or two is do-able if you keep in touch with the people telling them your putting a quote together.
     
  3. newrmdmike

    newrmdmike TPF Noob!

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    also though, if you aren't sure your ready to do a wedding, then i would say you aren't. if you've had nothing but good experiences on shoots etc. then maybe you should keep it that way and not do this wedding. also, this wedding isn't pet photography and if thats what your into then maybe you should pass so you don't end up a wedding photographer wishing you were still doing pets.
     
  4. holga girl

    holga girl TPF Noob!

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    in baltimore, that is just the way it goes. you train someone, they spread their wings and they move on. the beauty part is, it creates networking. you may still continue to assist for her, and in time, if she is free, she may even assist for you. here it is more of a team effort, the competition working together, covering for one another when we need it, sharing equipment and referring each other business.

    as long as you are not passing out your business cards to her clients i think you are only doing what is the natural course of action.

    best of luck to you!

    jennifer
     
  5. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I agree with what has been said. Your mentor can't expect you to remain her faithful servant forever. If she is really defensive about it...then that tells me she is either insecure or needs to raise her prices and go after a higher market. Networking is usually advantageous to those involved, so if you branch out on your own...it would be good for her to keep you as a friend rather than a spurned former employee.

    So what I'm saying, is that if you feel you are ready to go own your own...then go for it. Offer your boss the olive branch of keeping a good relationship...and if she doesn't take it...that's her shortcoming, not yours.

    Of course, it's not good form to poach someones clients but it sounds like you got this lead legitimately so don't worry about it.

    Unless you boss' rate is $10,000 (+ or -)...then you would be charging too little. Be very wary of charging too little. You don't want to build a reputation for being the 'cheap' photographer. You probably know how much work is involved in shooting a wedding...so don't under sell yourself...it will be worth it in the short and long run. As you already have an apprenticeship, you don't really need to do cheap weddings to build a portfolio...so I'd say, don't do cheap weddings.
     

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