Learning to shoot weddings

Discussion in 'The Aspiring Professionals Forum' started by photosbyamylu, Apr 10, 2019.

  1. photosbyamylu

    photosbyamylu TPF Noob!

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    I have been thinking about exploring the idea of doing wedding photography. I was thinking about contacting a local photographer and asking if I can assist them on a wedding. Thoughts? Has anyone done this? Has anyone been contacted? Feedback appreciated.:1247:


     
  2. Valerie Green

    Valerie Green TPF Noob!

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    Tbh, I have worked with some wedding photographers in the past and learned a lot during those months. But, then again in wedding photography, it is all about timings. You need to be present at the right time at the right place or else you might miss a great moment to capture. I took some good portraits during those days using my Canon EF 50mm F/1.2L USM lens and till date, it has never gone wrong :)
     
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  3. vintagesnaps

    vintagesnaps Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    A photographer needs an assistant who can take on responsibilities for getting specific shots. You could ask if you can shadow or observe; you're basically asking someone to teach you on the job. There are unfortunately plenty of people with cameras shooting weddings and underpricing etc. and saturating the market. One of them might let you 'assist' but I wouldn't count on learning good techniques.

    Try ASMP or PPA to get info. from pro photographer organizations about what's involved in developing a business in photography.
     
  4. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Most reputable and established wedding photographers have a long list of people who'd like to understudy them. To "get in" you're going to have to prove that you can produce technically excellent work under a variety of conditions, be willing to work HARD (weddings are TOUGH!) and accept the fact that at lest initially, probably the most glamorous thing you will do is move a light stand, or adjust the groom's tie. A lot of photographers are hesitant to encourage yet more competition in to an already over-saturated field, so you're going to need to be persistent!
     
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  5. ac12

    ac12 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    As opposed to a school where you pay to be trained, you are asking someone to train you, much as an apprentice is trained.
    I would NOT expect to be paid cash (or only a modest amount), you are being paid in knowledge and experience.
    Then recognize that you are asking them to train a future competitor, so if you get no bites, THAT is likely why.

    To follow onto @tirediron , most weddings are on the weekend, not mon to fri, 9 to 5. So you have to be willing to sacrifice ALL your weekends and the entire day (6am to midnite or longer). And before the gig, gear needs to be checked, charged and packed. After the gig, the same gear needs to be checked, cleaned, charged, and stored away. Why would they take you on as an assistant, if you won't be at many of the weddings or to do the necessary before and after tasks. IOW, if you are going in, you have to go in with both feet, not just a toe. If I have to train an assistant, I want to train ONE or two persons that I can rely on to do everything, not FIVE part-timers who may or may not be available on any given day, and especially ones who only want to shoot.

    Then expect to do menial tasks as the photographer is evaluating you, to see just how dedicated you are, and if you will be worth training. Every task is important, even the menial ones like carrying bags of gear, because "someone" has to carry them. In my book, if someone is not willing or complains about doing the menial tasks, then they are not worth training. Cuz if they don't do it, then I have to do it. The task has to get done, by someone. It is not all fun and glory, there is a LOT of behind the scene grunt work.

    How well do you take directions and carry them out, correctly?
    How reliable are you?
    If you will not be where I want you when I want you, I don't want you.
    If you do not do what/how I tell you to do, I don't want you.​
    Remember the menial tasks above. You are being tested.

    BTW, this is not just for wedding photography, it is for MANY jobs. I was going to fire an intern and someone I hired because they gave me more trouble than they were worth.
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2019
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  6. Vtec44

    Vtec44 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    If done right, wedding photography is probably the most difficult form of photography IMHO. It's unpredictable with so many variables that are out of your control, and you're still expected to deliver consistent results. You have to be a very well rounded photographer who's able to problem solve quickly because the time line doesn't wait for anyone. However, it's also very rewarding knowing that your work will be a part of someone's family long after you're gone.

    I'm a full time professional wedding photographer and I do get a internship inquiries each year. Most would fade away after I sent over my list of requirements and expectations. I don't think a lot of people fully understand the responsibilities of an ethical wedding photographer and how important it is. Most people who have reached out to me expect immediate benefits after just 1 day of observation and think that it's all fun and game. It can be a lot of fun if you absolutely love what you do and are willing to make many sacrifices in your personal life.

    Several of my interns have go on to be successful wedding photographers themselves, but it has a lot more to do with them than me. They are extremely self motivated and are great problem solvers. So yes, there are a few of us who are still willing to take on apprentices but it is increasingly rare to have a really good mentor. I see so many people, who I consider new to the business themselves, teaching other people. Then again it's not really my business to judge how others conduct their business.

    So yes, do reach out to your favorite wedding photographer and prepare yourself for a wild ride. Best of luck!!! :)
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2019
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  7. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Hi, amylu! I have not done this, and have no aspiration to do so in the future, but here's my arm's length assessment of your situation:

    You need to already be a good photographer. I can't imagine any real professional taking the time to teach someone photography while juggling the demands of actually running a business. If your portfolio can impress someone, you might have a chance. Do you currently have your own business? Do you do events now? What kind of shoots do you do now?

    You need to be really good with people. More than merely polite, you have to be driven to become indispensable when it comes to interacting with complete strangers who all have very high expectations of the photographer and the assistant.

    You have to be humble. Proud of your work, yes, but also willing to be the shadow in the corner for a fairly long time. You can't be the photographer's assistant and your own self-promoter at the same time. Know that the business is more important than your own aspirations for the foreseeable future. You will be doing mostly the "grunt work" for longer than you want to, but that's what is required.

    You have to be knowledgeable about the equipment and terminology of photography. Know how to set up lights and modifiers, know what each of them do, perform your tasks quickly and efficiently, and do all of it without the photographer needing to explain everything.

    You asked about "a wedding". If observing only one wedding is your goal, you would do just as well by being an invited guest at a wedding and simply observing the photographer. You're likely not going to be perceived as a potentially valuable assistant just walking in the photographer's door and asking for a job.
     

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