Realistic to Work Highly Part-Time as a Wedding Photographer Assistant / 2nd Shooter?



The Question: Is it realistic to e-mail a few photographers in the area asking if they'd consider using me as an assistant / 2nd shooter for weddings, but limited to at most 1 or 2 a month?

The Longer Background: I've been looking into the wonderful wide world of wedding photography lately, but I'm not in a position time-, equipment-, nor skill-wise where I could actually advertise myself as a wedding photographer. I've done one wedding as an unofficial shooter who posed people while the hired gun was working with others, just after his own shots (with his permission), and after he was done (before the ceremony). And I did the reception. I think I did pretty well considering at the time I didn't have an external flash nor did I realize what shooting RAW meant.

So I'd like to get some experience (and some cash), but I'm a full-time grad student. I'm at the part of my graduate career where I'm just doing research so I'm not limited by classes, but it's technically a full-time job so while I could devote time to the photography, it can't take up too much time. I think I could reasonably commit to one or two weddings a month, assuming that means a full day at the wedding and about 10-20 hrs post-processing.

So back to the question: Do you think that a professional wedding photographer (who already uses assistants) would be willing to take me on given my time constraints? Or my lack of experience (though everyone has to start somewhere ...).

I do have a portfolio I can show, though unfortunately that wedding was 2 years ago and I've grown a lot as a photographer (and equipment) since then. My other portfolio stuff is limited mainly to landscapes, lightbox, and a few people scattered in there.

Oh, and the practical question of what you think I could expect to make in such a venture? I assume it would probably be some percentage of the fee.
I'd say you could probably get some work if you find the right person to work with. Can't hurt to ask. Show your other stuff too, if it helps show your ability. He'll udnerstand you haven't had the time to do weddings probably.
The good part is that many many photographers will welcome assistants of all working levels.

The bad part is that photogs rarely pay assistants, and instead offer work experience, and portfolio fodder.

I pay, but not a lot. $10.50 an hour for butt busting work.
When I started shooting weddings I had gone to a 2 year photography scho, had 2-3 years of experience shooting freelance for a couple of weekly papers in my area and, spent $3500 for gear I got paid about $150 for a wedding. Of course this was quite a few years ago but still it should give you an idea of what to expect. You can probably get in somewhere but I ould not expect to mke a mint to start out. Everyone needs to cut their teeth you need experience with weddings befor you can expect anyone to pay you any rel money but I guess that goes with anything you do.
That's how I got my start - I worked with one wedding photographer who shot medium format film when I was in college 2000-2004, then I worked with another husband/wife team starting two years ago. I have gotten paid in both instances, but not much. But some is better than nothing and it is back-breaking work HOWEVER what you will learn is invaluable.

Where else can you shoot a wedding alongside a pro and learn the tricks of the trade without all the pressure? I didn't have to do any post processing work, and I only work for them on the weekend. I make $9 an hour for assisting them. Not much, but it helps when you're saving up for a lens or other equipment.

Currently I've only photographed two weddings on my own and I'm still assisting the husband/wife team because it seems every time I go out with them I learn more. Not to mention i get to use the photographs I've taken in my portfolio and on my Web site.

It can't hurt to ask. I actually had multiple photographer tell me they'd take me on and I had to choose between them. It's been great, even if it's hard work. Go for it!

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