Second shooter @ weddings

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by photographyfanatic, Apr 19, 2010.

  1. photographyfanatic

    photographyfanatic TPF Noob!

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    Hi. I am wondering if it is typical for a second shooter at a wedding to be paid or if it is the norm for these positions to be non paying and more for experience and portfolio building? I ask because I have the opportunity to shoot 4 weddings as a second shooter, but there is no pay involved. It's just for experience and port building. Should I continue to look for a second shooting position that will pay at least some sort of cash compensation? I have been involved in photography for over ten years, currently I consider myself semi - professional, but have NO wedding photography experience. Your thoughts?
     
  2. dom yo

    dom yo TPF Noob!

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    if you have NO wedding experience then i would go ahead and take this. 4 weddings underneath your belt will look good
     
  3. Big Mike

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

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    There is no 'typical' for this situation. Some get paid, some don't....it just depends on the people involved and the arrangement they have.
    The important part is that you have the arrangement set before you do anything, so that you both know what the expectations are.

    You might also want to know what they expect in terms of photos they want you to take...but also if & how they want you to help out during the event. Are you going to just go there and shoot what you want to...or are you going to assist them when needed?

    I do a fair bit of 2nd shooting, and I get paid fairly well for it. And while I do sometimes use my photos for my own portfolio, my main objective is to help the primary photographer do their job, which is getting the best possible photos for the client. If that means I have to lug gear or hold lights, then that's what I do.

    If it is your intention to become a wedding photographer yourself, then this could be a great learning experience for you. Which is probably why they aren't offering you any money. In most cities, there is a long line of people who would gladly 2nd shoot/assist for free, just to gain the experience. But hey, if you are not comfortable with that...you don't have to do it. The photographers that I shoot for, could easily round up some 'interns' to work for free...but they still pay me to do it.
     
  4. mwcfarms

    mwcfarms No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Good luck either way and cant wait to see some shots.
     
  5. photographyfanatic

    photographyfanatic TPF Noob!

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    I was very interested to go from no wedding experience to having four by the end of this season. My main job as the second shooter would be to shoot in a "photojournalistic" style which I think might be a good way to ease on into this. I would love the experience as I would use it to gauge if I would or would not like to persue it down the road.
     
  6. bigtwinky

    bigtwinky No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I'd do them unpaid, but there is no norm to it. Some pay, most don't, some treat you like crap, some actually help you get better. Some days you'll carry bags and move a lightstand, others you'll be charged with a certain aspect to photograph on your own.

    The more you work with the same people, the more you can build a relationship with them and over time, might get contracts through them when they are double booked.
     
  7. benhasajeep

    benhasajeep TPF Noob!

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    Make sure that there is a written understanding that you may use YOUR photos in your portfolio!

    Other than that I would do the shoots gratis and count it towards a learning experience.
     
  8. bennielou

    bennielou TPF Noob!

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    Mike is again exactly right. It varies by experience.

    I started as an apprentice (mainly just hauling bags) for a very accomplished wedding photog. Later, he let me light for him. Then I got to shoot for him. Finally he paid me a small amount.
    However, I was never to use any of the images, and instead used his cards to shoot with.
    I then shot with someone else, not so nearly as accomplished as the first guy, but I got to shoot the entire wedding with him, and got to keep my images for my port.

    Now that I myself use additional shooters (a third in this instance) this is how I do it:

    1. If they are a newbie wanting to learn for portfolio images, they pay me. (I do not use them for weddings).
    2. If they are a newbie just wanting to observe a wedding situation, they are not allowed to shoot, and only assist with lighting, carrying gear, that kind of thing.
    3. If they have worked weddings before, but don't have a business going yet, they shoot on my cards, and cannot use the images. They are paid a small sum.
    4. If they are a full time working wedding photographer, they are paid a good salary and also get the rights to the images they took.

    I normally use the latter, as it helps me greatly to have someone who I can trust to get vital shots, as well as terrific shots for my clients. I regularly use one two full time pros who have open dates. I don't call them thirds, but instead team members working under our company name.

    It's worked out great for us, as it makes our day much simpler, and it's an added bonus to the client. Because while my husband and I are working on the "meat" shots, the must haves, it give the other shooter a lot more freedom to create the more artistic shots.

    So basically it the level of the primaries and the secondaries. IMO, you always want the best person you can wrangle to shoot with you. And that will cost you money and photo use. But in my experience, it's been very much worth it.

    Since you are the intended second, I would suggest you also look at the primary. How good are they? The better they are, the less likely as a new person, you will be able to use your photos. Much less be paid. If they are less good, then most likely you will get photo use and no pay. If they are themselves just starting out, and just need help, (then they probably need a LOT of help) then I would ask for photo use AND a certain amount of money.

    In the end, it really involves who you are working for, their skill level, and what you end up contributing.

    I hope that makes sense.
     

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