I decided to put this post together because it’s something I feel strongly about but also because I receive so many emails each month asking me for shooting experience – and I totally get it! I’ve been there myself! Getting into wedding photography is really difficult in the beginning and I want to be the person who offers insight and advice instead of the person who just says ‘no’ or even worse ignores you! (and I really REALLY hope you don’t get any rude responses… shame on them! They were just starting out at some point too!).
Why are people saying no?
You’re literally offering yourself to people as an assistant or second shooter for free and still no takers. I was perplexed too. It wasn’t until I went full time and had been shooting consistent weddings for myself that I realised why newer photographers struggle to get a response from people.
It’s someone’s wedding. Their one and only wedding day that they have paid a fortune for. That shouldn’t be taken lightly at all. The photographer there has one of the most important jobs – if not the most important job of the day. It will be the lasting memories of the day. We’re under the most pressure!
As a photographer who prefers to work alone (as many do), the thought of the couple asking to hire a second shooter always makes me sigh. It’s totally fine if they want that extra coverage but it really impacts on my day and how I work. I’m used to working alone – not co-ordinating and ‘looking after/checking in’ on someone else for the day. I work in a very relaxed and stealthy way and I really think it’s a contributing factor as to why people are so happy after the day – they barely knew I was there and their guests felt at ease. When I have a second shooter with me (and then chances are a videographer is there too!) it just starts to feel overkill – like reality tv being covered from all angles and guests don’t seem to relax as much.
And, of course, if a couple wants to hire a second shooter then it’s a task to find a second shooter with enough experience to be able to get what I need – and to shoot it in the same style as me. So I need an experienced shooter that I can trust to do what I need. They’ll probably need to go to groom prep alone (often at a different location) and capture it in the same style as me for continuity in the gallery.
Can someone with less experience do what I need them to? Maybe. Maybe not. But I can’t take a gamble when the couple is paying.
This is why you are hearing ‘no’ so much.
I’m sure most photographers would love to give others the helping hand that they need but when their neck is literally on the line for each wedding, it’s just something else to factor in that takes away concentration from the day.
Concerns we’d have:
Is the second shooter ok? Are they getting in the way? Do they know what they’re doing? What are they saying to guests? What if something happens – do they have the right insurance? If they do or say something weird, will it reflect badly on me? If someone asks them an important question will they answer it correctly? The list goes on.
As frustrating as this all might be to read – I can promise you in a few years time you will totally get it and be feeling the same way!
So how did I do it?
I was an English Teacher for 10 years before deciding to switch careers – and it happened pretty fast! So it can be done!
I’m not going to lie, it’s going to cost you!
I went on several courses, workshops, style shoots and one to ones.
It was through these that I was able to generate a portfolio and start to really find a style for myself.
Some of the courses I attended
Lisa Devlin runs Photography Farm and hosts some really amazing days for aspiring photographers. There are amazingly curated styled shoots for portfolio building; shoot days with big names in the industry; or classroom days – learning about the theory behind what people do. One of the best things about the Farm is the Facebook group that you get to join once you’ve been on one of the courses. Hands down the nicest, friendliest and most supportive group I’ve been in (and I’ve been in lots – some were not so great and I avoid joining them now!).
Rock Your Shot
Jon Dennis has S6 Photography and host workshops for aspiring photographers. I think it was one of the first ones I went on (and then a couple more). Invaluable in terms of learning about how he shoots and how to get myself out there.
I went on one of Shelley’s portfolio building days and it was super helpful to talk about her thought process and how she works with couples.
If you like the style of my work and you haven’t heard of NJ already then go and take a look and be blown away! I class Nigel as my mentor and master. I’ve had several one to one sessions with him and he blows me away each time with his insight and approach.
Sam Docker is a super huge name in the industry and hosts amazingly insightful workshops that take you through all aspects of the business. From shooting to SEO, Sam is the man. He will talk you through how he approaches a wedding day from start to finish (including night time images).
Jonny offers a whole different range of workshops – ones to look out for are full wedding experience days (where he basically reenacts a wedding day as a course from morning until night) and also his ‘Are you afraid of the dark’ courses – if you are completely new to shooting weddings and don’t have any or a lot of experience with using flash, then you need to jump on this asap. You’ve got to know how you can use artificial light when you are stuck and need it but also for first dance and evening photography – an absolute must to learn!
Reach out to someone you admire and ask if they do one to one!
Whilst most Full Time professional photographers will say no to requests for second shooting, you’ll probably find that most are willing to do one to one sessions – you just need to ask!
Do I do one to one sessions?
Whilst I feel like all of the options above will see you catapult yourself into a full-time wedding photography business, I’m also willing to provide one to one sessions for aspiring photographers and go through absolutely any aspects of wedding photography.
I will tailor our day to suit your wants and needs – there’s nothing sacred and I’ll go through anything you like me to whether it’s my complete approach to a wedding day, how I use light creatively, settings in-camera, my flash work on an evening, editing methods or even how I put my business together – tell me what you need and we’ll discuss it. Weekday sessions based in Yarm £300.
After one of these sessions, I’d be happy to look at me coming along to assist on one of your own weddings (£500) – where I will quietly help and support during the day to help you push yourself further and achieve great results. I’ll also be there to help with flash set up and talking through approach where we can.
After one of these sessions, if you’d like to come along to one of my weddings to see how I work, this can be arranged after a lengthy discussion about what is expected and how the day will run (£600).
You’ll do it!
I hope that this page has been really helpful and hasn’t put you off. Please believe me when I say it’s a complete honour to have you contact me and I don’t take it lightly. I still fangirl over so many other photographers so for anyone to see my work and love it really blows me away. I think there’s never enough learning and growing we can do which is why I’m still investing in at least 2 courses or one-to-one sessions per year to develop myself – as all photographers should be.
If you have any random questions about any of the above please feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org – I promise to never bite and hopefully I can help!