Doing it the right way


TPF Noob!
Dec 14, 2004
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I just received this letter, and was blown away with this guy's professionalism. He's a top notch photographer, but wants to learn the ropes of something he doesn't normally do.
I've seen a lot of people ask how to get started in this or that, and I thought this was a great example of how to do it.
Some private stuff has been deleted:

"Hello Cindy,

My name is xxxx and I'm a recent photo intern at The Dallas Morning News. I am writing to inquire about your need for a second shooter or general assistant. I have approximately six years of professional photojournalism experience, a BA in studio art and am close to finishing up my masters project for my MA in photography from the School of Visual Communication at Ohio University.

I'm trying to break into the wedding photography business and I am trying to learn the ropes. I'd love to learn from you, or if you ever have a wedding you are too busy to cover, I'd be happy to take it off your hands.

My website is xxxxxx I have also attached a resume. If you have any questions or thoughts, I'd love to hear them.

I am equipped with a Canon 5D, 20D, 580EX and a wireless transmitter, 28mm/f1.8 prime and a 80-200mm/f2.8. I also have a digital sound recorder if you ever want to put together a Soundslides presentation for your clients. I can also edit audio and put together the Soundslides presentation.

Happy holidays, and thank you for your time.


I'm sure that I was one of many in the area to receive this letter. His letter was so well done, I'm sure he's gonna get LOTS of jobs sent his way, and lots and lots of opportunities to apprentise. This guy will go far, I'm sure!!!!!!
Hope this letter helps out some of those who want to get hooked up with a working photog, but don't know exactly how to go about it.
I can still see his website when I move my mouse over the link. ;)

Very nice letter. I've always said that presentation is 90% of getting a job.
Thanks you guys for the heads up.
Do me a favor....I can't see the link. Can you still see it?
I will admit the letter looks plenty good but there is more to it than that. It'll get him plenty of starts wich is a good thing but also a double edged sword. One needs to be very careful when choosing this methoed of requesting, It will work for many but...
I'm not sure what you mean here, unless you are referring to helping another photographer become my competition.
There are two distinct camps here. Some photogs hold their secrets close to their vests. Other's disclose everything they know as a way of paying back the help they recieved.
I'm in the second camp. But not everyone believes the same ways, and there is a good argument for both.
I'm not sure what you mean here, unless you are referring to helping another photographer become my competition.
There are two distinct camps here. Some photogs hold their secrets close to their vests. Other's disclose everything they know as a way of paying back the help they recieved.
I'm in the second camp. But not everyone believes the same ways, and there is a good argument for both.

Actually I was leaning more towards other point of view, the one trying to get started. Having plenty of people willing to take the individual on is a good thing by giving a good assortment of choices in master and/or passed on to them employments needed for success, but the person could possibly overwhelm them self and go spiraling in the opposite direction with any one of the hundreds of causes of failure.

All in all the starting point is absolutly neccessary, once started you go from there.

I my self am taking a slower methoed of entry into business but...
I can totally understand that Battou. My first year in was overwhelming as well. 7 day weeks, 14-16 hours a day. I never wanted to see another photo ever.
But what doesn't kill you makes you stronger right?
I do see however what you are saying. You are doing it the smart way. The way you plan on doing it, you can do a great job without burning out in the process.
The best lesson I learned was learning how to say, "No".
Anyway, best of luck! Easing in is the way to go as long as you have another way to pay the bills in the meantime.
elsaspet ,
i was just curious for a point of view on this, clearly the letter you received was from someone with a lot of experience. i'm just starting out (got my first dslr only months ago) and while i don't yet feel ready to start looking for someone to assist, i would like to in the future. if you were looking for an assistant/second shooter, would you be willing to take on someone who has taken a few community college courses, read a lot of books, and was really eager to learn if they have not had a lot of formal training or wedding experience? i appreciate any input you or other wedding photogs might have.
Everyone is different, but I've had people of all experiences assist.
While it's wonderful to have someone with such experience willing to lend a hand, it's also wonderful to work with someone who is just starting out.

It's not as much about the experience, as it is about the heart, and the willing to learn.

Take this letter for example. This guy is willing to shoot, schlep bags, whatever it takes to learn. He obviously is already well accomplished in photography, but doesn't mind taking the backseat for a while in order to grow his portforlio and experience.

This was how I started out as well. I had some PJ experience, but wanted to do weddings. I toted a lot of bags. Every once in a while, in order to learn more, I still will tote a bag when needed. My local competition has worked with me, and I've worked with them. We all learn something new, and we all get something out of it.

But let's step back. Before I did PJ work, I hung out on forums and asked tons of questions. I attended all the local meetups. I invited myself to every shoot. :) I was a guest to what turned into my first paid pj assignment.
Those who where around back then can attest, that I was far from experienced.

What I look at when I look at assistants, is the willingness to learn, the time that person took out of the day to contact me, and they way they word their request.

Hope that helps.
that does help! thanks a bunch! it gets a bit overwhelming sometimes for me because i am trying to learn and want to be able to move forward but sometimes i'm just afraid that without a degree in photography (why didn't i decide i wanted to be a photographer before getting a degree in broadcasting...) or years and years of experience, that no one will want to take me on. but i am willing to do the grunt work. if starting out means carrying bags and getting coffee, i'm willing to do that for the opportunity to learn. i guess i was just looking for a little reassurance that i might have a chance to make this work.

thanks again!:)
No problem at all.

You are already ahead of me as far as the formal aspect of things. I never took a formal course in my life. I've done two seminars, but that was way later.
When I first got picked up by wire, I was still using the first camera I had ever owned. I didn't know what half the buttons did. I had no idea how to use manual. I was just taking pictures because it made me really happy.

It was my mentors, the people I assisted, that really showed me all the good stuff. I might have been toting 80lbs of bags, and swinging a boom light, but I was watching. And they never tired of all my crazy questions.

When you are ready, send out a letter like this. Maybe you don't have the tech stuff yet, but let the photog know how much you really want to learn. They will love you for that. And if you bust your butt, they will tell everyone they know about you. You will get tons of assist work. And assist work leads to a portfolio. And a portfolio leads to money.
And not only will you have a portfolio, and money, but you will have people who recommend you when they are busy. You will have the experience to know what to do when you get a knothead wedding planner, or an upset bride. You will have seen how to handle it.
You will know how to schedule, and what to do when the schedule isn't what it's supposed to be. You will have seen it all first hand, with none of the responsibilies as to how to handle it.

And, my mentors have always been there for me. Years later, when I am doing my own thing, they are there. If I have a question, I have someone to ask.

These are the benefits to doing it the right way.
cool, sounds like he knows what he wants.

when i went to my first wedding i was amazed at how much there was to learn. i was overwhelmed, but it made me want to learn it all! i don't think i could learn in a classroom what i have picked up from only three weddings assisting.

now i can't imagine what i could learn with more weddings!! gosh, it seems that there is always a lot of room for improvement for me :) so, if i waited til i felt "ready," i might never have done anything.

i am grateful for the opportunity you have given me cindy, and appreciate any future opportunities. i am so thankful for everything you have taught me!

by the way, i haven't carried many bags for you - is it because i ran that one suitcase into the door? so sorry. :)

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