Happy new year guys!
Around this time each year we’re contacted by photographers, students and those looking to begin a career as a wedding photographer. Perhaps it’s the hope and motivation that comes with a new year that prompts a career kickstart or change. Whatever the reason, we often get more of these types of messages than usual throughout January and February. Generally folk are after wedding photography jobs in an assisting or second shooter capacity. Often people ask if they can shadow us or assist us on jobs, usually on a voluntary basis.
Unfortunately we are unable to offer wedding photography jobs, wedding photography assistant jobs, wedding photography apprenticeships or wedding photography volunteering opportunities. I’m happy to explain why and also offer some advice.
One of the reasons that we don’t accept assistants or volunteers is because weddings are such a fast paced environment. There are many “must capture” events that only happen once. The first kiss, a first look. Events that may only last just a split second. It’s therefore essential that 100% of our time and attention is focused on our couples and capturing each element of their wedding day for them. Weddings aren’t really (in our opinion) a suitable environment for teaching or supervising.
In the event that we were to provide opportunities for new or aspiring wedding photographers, we would need to split our attention, (at least in part) something which we feel would be doing our clients a disservice.
As we are already a two person team, thankfully we’re able to provide an assisting role to one another as and when required. Having just two people present helps us maintain the balance between “well rounded coverage” and “obtrusive”. Something we’re very keen to maintain.
Advice for aspiring wedding photographers
We completely understand that breaking in to any new industry is tough! We’ve been there ourselves and it can feel like you can’t get a break without experience, but you can’t get experience without being given an opportunity.
So our advice is this.
1. If you are interested in an assisting role, your best bet is probably to contact a photographer who already works alone. A husband and wife team, or another photography team that already works with more than one shooters is probably not going to want to overload their bride(s) and groom(s) with another body on site. If you’re working alongside a single photographer, your presence will be much more valuable.
Alternatively, photography agencies may be able to help. They may be be able to match you with a suitable placement. They are also more likely to have the relevant insurances in place to cover an additional person on site.
Do not copy and paste!
2. When you send out an email asking for an opportunity, it’s really tempting to just copy and paste a generic email to several people. Don’t do that. No one will take a chance on you if you can’t be bothered to show an interest in what they do. Established photographers may get several job requests a week/month. Why should they invite you in to their business above anyone else? Most people who get in touch are prepared to volunteer their services, so that alone really isn’t enough.
Personalise your email beyond the name or business name you’re addressing it to. Let the photographer know which of their photographs is your favourite and why, or what you feel you can learn from them. You will get a much better response if the person you’re contacting is aware that you are actually interested in what they do and the way they do it.
A basic portfolio will make you stand out
3. Have something to show for yourself. If you’re in to photography enough to be seeking work opportunities, presumably you’ve taken a photograph or two. Have some photographs to show. A basic portfolio, related or not to wedding photography will already put you head and shoulders above most people who get in touch. Weirdly nine out of ten people who contact us don’t have work to show. In a visual profession, this is pretty unbelievable!
4. Inviting someone in to your business is a risk for any professional, so you need to show them why you’re worth it. Anyone working with or for you will be representing your business and the over all impression of the goods and services that you provide. So what can you offer the photographer you want to work with? What are you good at, what skills do you have? Are you punctual, professional, reliable? Can you think on your feet? Are you able to work under direction or on your own initiative? So many people get in touch simply to ask for an opportunity without giving the slightest indication as to why they should be given one.
In this day and age, sadly, being willing to work for free and liking photography isn’t enough. You’ve described pretty much every 16 year old school leaver. So sell yourself. Almost every single email says the same thing “I’m passionate about photography” and “I’ve loved photography ever since I got my first camera.” Those things may be true, but you have so much more to offer than just your love of photography. Other skills are just as, if not more important. Mention them, they really matter!
We’re sorry that we’re not the ones to be able to offer you a wedding photography job or assisting role at this time, but we hope you’ve found the above useful. We are always happy to help in other ways with advice and so on if we can. We also offer mentoring and training, so if that sounds like something you’d be interested in you’re welcome to reach out. Our direct email address is email@example.com
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