How to Gain Wedding Photography Experience
So then we want to talk about gaining experience as a photographer, and this is something when you very first start out, your biggest question is going to be, how do I get my first wedding? Or I think I want to make this a bigger hobby, or I think I want this to be a better part time job. How do I get that first job? And then once I get that first job, how do I get that second job? Well, the first thing I would recommend you do is offer your services for free to your friends and family, and where I'm at right now, in my business, I don't work with friends and family, I find that you do reach a point where you don't want to mix your business with your personal life, and the quickest way to lose a friend is to merge business with friendship, and you just don't want to do that that's a really uncomfortable place to be in, but when you are brand new, when you basically are volunteering your services, volunteer your services to your friends, volunteer your services to your family, but be ho...
nest about your abilities. I've never shot a wedding before, or I've shot one wedding before they need to know if they're going to trust you on this volunteer basis, that you're not an established professional, that you are very new at this. You never want to mislead anyone, and if a prospective client comes along, be honest about your abilities. You also never, ever, ever, ever want to try to build your portfolio at another photographer's job, so let's see, your best friend is getting married and your best friend has hired a photographer and you think, ok, cool! I mean, I'm not going to shoot your wedding, but I'm gonna bring my camera and I'm gonna take some pictures at your wedding and I use them for my portfolio don't do that because the quickest way to start burning bridges before you've even gotten started is to intrude on another working photographers actual work space, so either be the photographer for the event or leave your camera at home. Another thing that you can do to gain experience is to work as an assistant to an established wedding photographer or toe work is a second shooter for an established wedding photographer. Now being an assistant or a second shooter requires it's its own special set of skills and abilities. You will learn as an assistant or a second shooter for any of you who have ah watched or who might watch my course here with creative life thirty days of wedding photography on several of those days, my assistant actually comes in and talks about what she does and what her role is on the part of the on the wedding day because she is a very important part of how I shoot weddings. And if you what you want to achieve out of being an assistant or out of being a second shooter is toe learn you're going tto learn, but it's, not an educational position. Someone has hired you to be their assistant because they need an assistant. They've hired you to be a second shooter because they need a second shooter. This is not a college internship, you're not there to learn you are there to do your job? Yes, ma'am, would you say you have to be a second shooter or in assistant before you can open up your own business? I would not say that you have to, because I never did. I never assisted anyone, never second shot for anyone. Um, I think that it can give you very good insight into what it's like to actually be at a wedding. I think it could be a very helpful thing, I think, especially if you're trying to hone your skills. Being a second shooter is a wonderful position and also if you get into this and you think wedding photography is really fun, but I don't want to run my own business. Being a second shooter might be an absolutely ideal job for you because you show up you work you go home you don't have to process the images or meet with the clients or anything like that if you do decide that you want to try assisting or second shooting you have to remember that this is not about you at all you're here toe work when I was hiring my assistant when I first moved to new york and I put out a call for the assistant position I got a lot of e mails it started out with hi there I really want to be a wedding photographer and I really want to come learn from you so I really want to be your assistant because I think I can learn a lot I never emailed any of those people back because what I was getting from them were emails that were saying me me me me me this is what I want from you this is what I want from you and I thought well I'm sorry I thought I was actually hiring someone this is not a call for me to educate you my assistant is actually not a photographer she was a stay at home mom who just likes photography I don't want an assistant who is going to work for me for a year and the entire time they're not really there to help me there there toe learn on their own time so if you do want to be an assistant or you do want to be a second shooter, you do need to understand that you're their toe work for the person who's hired you so that's, your first and foremost job is taking care of your primary are taking care of the person who hired you, but you are goingto learn like with any job you're going to learn on the job just bear in mind that that's not the prime focus of the job. Yes, ma'am, how would you get if you're a secondary shooter second shooter? How would you get the primary shooter toe? Let use those images and be able to put them in your portfolio? Are it's probably never going to happen? Sorry um, if you are working as a second shooter and you think a second shooter is going to be a great being, a second shooter will be a great job to build your portfolio. It might be an awkward kind of awakening for you when you realize that that's not probably going to happen most of the time when a photographer hires a second shooter and I can't say all of the time because that's not the case always, but most of the time you're there to work for them your image is air under their copyright, so you'll usually shoot their cards and give their cards back to them or if you shoot your cards, you download them, you deliver the images and you walk away, they're not your images. You don't have a model release from those clients. Most of the time, you're not going to have permission from the photographer, so you're probably not gonna be able to use the images. But what you will gain as a second shooter or an assistant is experience, and you will gain an insight into what it's like to be at a wedding and tow. What it's, what it's like to actually shoot? Ah, wedding. So, no, you might not have a portfolio ready, you know website set up by the time you're done assisting or second shooting, but you're going to have experience and you're going to have knowledge, and that is more important. You can take that experience and you can take that knowledge and you can build a portfolio with it whether you get your friends who just got married to dress up back in their wedding clothes again and go out and let you take a portrait of them or whether you take that experience and then you shoot a wedding for free and you really nail it because you've got the knowledge and experience behind you don't worry about being able to use those images if you are second shooting. Because you're you're going to learn so much that when you're in an instance that you can use, your image is you're gonna be in a much better place and the most important thing above and beyond all of that is to keep learning like I said, I've been doing this for fourteen years and I never think I'm done learning I always think there's something I could be doing better or with more skill or with more grace or that there are situations I can handle better I'm going to be learning as a photographer and a business person until I'm done how do you learn as a photographer? Well you khun research and you can attend workshops you can actually go in person there are a lot of photographers who either in their studio or maybe they tour they offer up workshops that you khun go too so that you can actually learn hand on with a small group with an instructor in person I have taken many workshops and they have been incredible you khun research and attend conventions there are a lot of state conventions there are a lot of local conventions small convention's, huge conventions where you can go and listen to a lot of different speakers speak and then go to trade shows and look it camera equipment and albums and all of the different things that you might want to bring into your photography business a convention is a great opportunity to go listen to a lot of speakers in a very short amount of time. It could be very overwhelming, but it can also be very inspirational as well. You're watching creative, live keep watching creative, live. There are so many wedding photography courses here on creative live that are so helpful and taught by so many amazing shooters. Besides this class, I have a three day class that you can watch. I also have thirty days of wedding photography. So any question that you might have right now, I guarantee t you it would be answered in thirty days of wedding photography. So if you're looking to learn more, even if you decide to branch away from wedding photography there's so many photographic opportunities here on creative life for youto watch and then above and beyond all of that joined some local networking groups, get on facebook, start finding, you know, the photographers in your area, do they get together once a month? Do they get together once a year? Do they like to hang out together? You know, making friends in the industry is going to be major, you'll have a support system of people who understand exactly what you're going through, you'll have a support system of people who, if you have any problems whatsoever. That will have your back if you need an emergency second shooter for a wedding. If you have a camera that's broken and you need to baby, borrow a back up, you'll have a network of people around you, andi. Also, just to continue to be inspirational to each other. Local networking groups are pretty much amazing.