I get a few emails/calls a month asking if I can give someone Work or Second Shooter experience. The answer is almost always no.
The main reason for saying no to student Work experience requests is that due to the way my bookings work, I can’t actually provide someone with a fortnight’s worth of work and the red tape you have to go through regarding weekend work with minors makes things very difficult. Schools and Colleges really need to address this as unless you run a busy 5 day a week studio shooting products for example, photography bookings are mainly evenings and weekends. I do however, have daytime work experience opportunities with my app Jaunty Twig so I am able to provide some.
Regarding adult Work experience requests, the same applies. However, I firmly believe photography and people skills are best learnt on the job so if I think the opportunity arises during a busy studio session or booking, then I will always put a shout out on my Facebook pages Lesley Burdett Photography and Infinity Photographic. I work on a first come-first served basis, so please go follow my pages. I have met some wonderful and trustworthy people (who I now employ occasionally) through this method. I have also met some people who I don’t particularly want to work with again!
Regarding Second Shooter requests, I am lucky enough to already have a regular second shooter. We’ve worked together for two seasons years now and I have absolutely no plans to upgrade this particular model as we are a great team. Here he is:
Not only does he take great candid photos, he looks after me, my equipment and does things without me even knowing until I realise they have been done. Second shooting is so much more than just taking photos from different angles. There has however, been a couple of occasions when my second shooter is not available so rather than put a shout out on my page, I belong to a secret group of amazing photographers who all know their stuff and I have recruited that way and employed a second shooter.
If you really want to be taking seriously about gaining experience in second shooting, I would recommend directly contacting photographers you would like to work for. Do your research and be personal with your email/message go meet them at wedding fairs … gently stalk them! There is nothing worse than being contacted by someone who knows nothing about you, your work or which physical area/genres of photography you cover. I always take the time to reply to personally someone who has done their research and explain why I currently cannot give them a position. Everyone else gets a standard ‘thanks but no thanks’ reply.
The world of wedding photography has changed so much in the 8 years I have been doing it. If your ultimate goal is to be a wedding photographer, then get following those wedding photographer blogs and see how creative everyone is being and what is involved. An all day wedding is a 16 hour day door to door and that is without editing, wedding fairs, marketing, couple chats, venue visits and album/image delivery … the list goes on!
If you are lucky enough to find someone with an opening, don’t expect to be paid or be allowed to take photos straight away. Most importantly, don’t let yourself be taken advantage of! After a couple of weddings, and if everything is working out between you both, you could ask for your expenses to be covered at minimum. You are NOT a skivvy or bag carrier, you are hopefully learning the ropes. Watch. Listen. Learn. If you are capturing images then you need (to push for) a written agreement on what happens with your images if you passing them over. Every photographer is different but remember, if you press the shutter, they are YOUR images NOT the photographer you are working with so you need to have an agreement and be comfortable with what is happening to them. The main photographer should NEVER expect you to hand over your images for nothing.
I think I have gone on enough but for your info, I pay my wonderful second shooter a fee to attend weddings with me and to hand over at least 150 edited images post wedding within a week of the wedding. I and my couple have full usage rights on those images. I also pay my work experience students their expenses and I make sure any adults who come for work experience gets hot beverages and cakes … if they are lucky ha ha.
I hope I haven’t put you off. There are many photographers out there so don’t give up. You just need to create that spark and interest. Why are you so different to the hundreds of other people out there wanting something for nothing?! I personally, am a very busy business lady and choose my allies wisely. I’m honest and share my knowledge freely with those I meet and I expect the same from those I come into contact with and teach. The world of photography is so saturated but there are some photographers out there SMASHING the creative process and I can only dream of emulating their work. Namely Sam Hurd. If you do one thing today … go follow him.