Wedding Second Shooter

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by eddiesimages, Nov 27, 2008.

  1. eddiesimages

    eddiesimages TPF Noob!

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    Many on here are recommending this to get experience before shooting weddings. I had a couple questions for anyone who has done this. First, is it proper to just pick up the phone book and call around to some photographers and ask if you can assist, or would it be better to go directly to the studio? Will I be doing this completely free of charge? Could I keep some of my better shots for my portfolio or do they all belong to the main photographer? Thanks for any info you can give me.
     
  2. D40

    D40 TPF Noob!

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    Funny, that is just what I did this last Sat.:) I knew a couple that does photography and they shoot the same body and brand and asked if I wanted to shoot with them. Like the lady said, none of my shots "had" to be good, I could try things and experiment while there since they are the main photographers. I had a blast and everything went great, I will probably be working with them more!:)
     
  3. Big Mike

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

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    There are no 'standard' rules for this...it depends on what you and the photographer agree to.

    When looking for a photographer to work for/with...you should pick someone who's work you admire. Call, E-mail, drop by...there are plenty of ways to contact them, just remember to be polite and professional. Don't waste their time and be prepared to show them a portfolio, even if it's not wedding shots...just show them something so that they know that you know what you are doing with a camera.
    You might even consider joining or contacting your local camera club or association. They could probably put you in touch with someone who is willing to help you out.

    As for the rest...it depends. Some will expect you to work for free (although the experience may be invaluable). You may need to assist before you are allowed to shoot...this might be carrying gear or getting coffee etc. Start at the bottom, as they say.
    Other may allow you to just tag along and shoot.

    Some will want to see and maybe use your photos...some will want the images without letting you use them for yourself.

    Some will pay, some won't...some will want you to prove yourself before they pay you.

    Either way, it's important to sort this out before you start. Sit down with they and talk to them about it.
     
  4. eddiesimages

    eddiesimages TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the replies. I just didn't want to offend anyone by calling them over the phone with a request like this. I don't know any of the local photographers. I was wondering about the portfolio, Big Mike, because I don't really have any portraits, only landscapes etc., but I suppose they could see that I at least know how to use a camera.
     
  5. Big Mike

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

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    Some photographers might be put off if you don't have any people in your portfolio...but many will probably take into account your attitude, appearance, manors and enthusiasm...more than just the portfolio.

    That being said, it certainly wouldn't hurt to get some people in there. A photography instructor once told me about a former student who didn't have any wedding portfolio shots, so he borrowed a wedding dress from a shop, got a model and some backdrops and spent the day in a garage (large door makes for great light). He ended up with enough good shots to fill his portfolio.
     
  6. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    1 - No calling on the phone for me... face to face is what landed me a place that opened the door for me on my 2nd try. On my first try the guy was majorly paranoid... lol

    2a - Do NOT expect to get paid. You are there for experience... why does he need to pay you to LEARN?

    2b - Do NOT expect to get the position unless your photography basics are demonstrably STRONG. If you do not know the differences between ISO, aperture, shutter speed and their interrelation or front-sync, rear-sync and advanced lighting both on and off camera, don't go bothering the professional. He is NOT there to teach you the basics of photography, he will accept you ONLY if you have something to offer THEM and know that you are there to take your photography to the next level and not in a manner that threatens his business.

    2c - Do NOT expect to get it if your equipment is lacking. I was told that becuase of my equipment, he first considered me something beyond a newbie or inexperienced photographer and was not interested in teaching someone the differences between a kit lens and a quality piece of glass (his words, not mine). Because of the equipment, he decided to look at my portfolio on the 2nd meeting in a restaurant of his choosing, and that is where we really broke the ice and where I was "grilled" about my level of knowledge. Expect to be questioned as hard as if you were applying for a seriously real job. Dress, talk and respond like a professional, and expect to be put over the coals as if you were an interviewee.

    2d - Do NOT expect to get it if you have nothing that displays your level of talent, desire to learn and move on. 2nd shooters are not newbies, they are experienced people that are less experienced than the main shooter. I had both my laptop with a digital slideshow and a small printed out portfolio with me. The digital slideshow was 50 pictures, the printed out one was my top few shots... thats it, thats all.

    3 - Depends on the "deal" you come up with. I had no intentions of going pro, and no desire at the time to expand a portfolio. Part of my agreement was that I get the knowledge and experience... and in return they get 100% custody of all my pictures and I am not allowed to use them in any way/shape/manner. I am also not allowed to use them in any manner that promotes myself in any way. This was for their protection, so that they did not feel as if they were training their new competition in town. I was 100% ok with this, since all I was after was the experience and knowledge.

    The process was that I learn the entire business from A-Z, not just the wedding experience, as I thought I would. I learned things like establishment rules, management, a TON of things about running the business, client management and the complete process from picking up the phone to going to the e-session, customer meetings to the actual wedding shooting.

    Everything was explained to me in detail, and I was treated with respect and I made damn sure I returned the same 110%.

    After the 3rd wedding, I was treated like a team member, we knew each other's style and method of working and REALLY worked as a team, not a couple of disjointed photographers from the same company. I was actually given a nice monetary surprise at the end of the shoot, as well as a meal in a nice restaurant and my expenses were covered.

    The fourth (and last one), was the best... I was treated as an important and needed member of the team, I was part of the ENTIRE process from just after the first telephone call to the last shot of the wedding and literally everything in between (except the negotiations, which I attended but did not participate in).

    After the last event, a few of my pictures were blown up to 16X20s and sold. I was also given a much bigger monetary compensation, all expenses were again paid and I *really* felt like I was part of the team.

    Do I want to do it again? Maybe, but again, only as a form of education or for fun and ONLY as a second shooter with my friend. My full-time business is looking to expand and grow yet again, and I already make a better salary than most photographers that I know of, so pro photography is not in my future... at least not now.

    Edit: Oh... don't go on the weekends... thats when most weddings happen, I went Wednesday, and it seemed to be the best day to go... later enough after a wedding... and early enough before they start prepping for the next one. I am not sure how accurate that is, that was just my mentality going in... but it seemed to have worked for me.

    Oh, and as Mike suggested thats a nice way to get some shots into the portfolio, however, make SURE that they are identified as staged wedding shots, not real ones.
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2008
  7. Big Mike

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

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    Great post Jerry, all good points.

    I've been doing a fair bit of 'second shooting' lately. It's decent pay and it's a lot less work that shooting my own weddings all summer...and of course, the experience is good...I'm always trying to learn something new.
    Something I noticed was that after a couple of times, I really got into a good groove of working with the other photographer...we were really in sync, which is a big benefit on a busy wedding day. If you can be on the same page as the other photographer, it will really help things and they will think much more highly of you, than if you are out of sync with them. I'm not sure how to create that...just be sure that you are alert and attentive while on the job. There can be a lot of non-verbal communication between photographers during a wedding.

    I wouldn't say that it's essential to tell someone how you created a portfolio shot...but be honest if asked how you did it.
     
  8. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Wow, I was sitting here thinking about that flow too. It really just kinda happened where all of a sudden he knew where I was going and I knew where he was going and I ran one step ahead of him and prepped things so that all he had to do was get the shot... as he moved through that stage, I got the people into the groove one step ahead of time. At the same time, I did my shooting and accomplished all my "to do" shots. There really was very little verbal communication, just a lot of winking and smiling going back and forth. It almost became a game. This was impossible for me to do the first or second time, as I was so busy trying to keep up with myself, that I had no time to spare thinking about the event as a whole rather than a series of small steps for me to accomplish.

    As far as the staged pics... the point being is that it is a HECK of a lot easier to do staged portrait shots than getting the good ones while flying through the dynamics of the event... for most "real" wedding photographers, staging the ceremony or event shots is not real becuase the stress and related dynamics of getting those shots is not under the same circumstances, and hence they are not considered "real" wedding shots, but merely well practiced glamor or basic portraiture shots.

    Of course everyone can do as they wish, but honesty is definitely the best policy.
     
  9. Big Mike

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

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    I know what you're saying...but as a counter point...it's not all that easy to get a 'bride model' to be dresses up, hair and make-up done etc.

    Some photographers have the mentality that the shots are set up, it doesn't matter if it's the wedding day or not. It's all about the light and getting the shot...of course, they have to be good to get it done during a wedding. Other photographers are more journalistic and strive to capture the emotion and feeling of the day. Neither one is really right or wrong...but 'staged' shots would probably appeal to the former, rather than the latter.

    In the end though, it's the image that should speak for itself. Besides, there's nothing to say that you couldn't drag a bride & groom into your garage on their wedding day...if that's what you needed to get great shots. ;)
     
  10. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    ROFL... I suppose... but... would a good photographer need to? :D

    For the beginning photographer or the wanna-be photographer (good or bad), that wants to break into the wedding scene, I can see WHY they would want to do it that way (and let's face it, I bet it happens a lot more often than people let on), but let's toss in a counter point to your counter point :)lmao:) and say a client accepts the photographer based on their portfolio and finds out that they failed to re-create the same level of quality in the posed/prepped shots for them that exist in the photographer's portfolio on the day that they finally shoot the real event because I think we can both agree that shooting a wedding and shooting a couple dressed in wedding attire in a garage is not quite the same thing. :)

    What will prevent the feces from striking the rotating air displacement device then?
     
  11. eddiesimages

    eddiesimages TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for all the advice. I'm not a beginner photographer, just new to wedding photography. I'm signed up to take a three month class in January on portrait photography, so maybe I can build a portfolio there. I didn't expect to be paid to be the second shooter, just wanted the experience. Wedding photography is pretty scary to me, since these are photos that will be looked at the rest of a couple's lives, but I'm very interested in learning.
     

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