On Saturday I sent out a text to another photographer that I work with and then posted in a photography group I'm a part of the "10 Reasons Why I Love Second Shooting" (complete and utter satire). Just so you don't have to go ask that friend or go hunting in that photography group I'm a part of, here are those 10 reasons:
- No pressure
- I don't have to do family photos.
- I can be more of a guest during the day.
- No pressure.
- What are family photos?
- My feet don't hurt as much at the end of it.
- No family photos.
- I can take all the detail shots!
- No family photos
- Did I mention I don't have to take family photos?
Did I mention family photos enough? Haha.
While it was all satirical, I didn't think it would gain as much traction or hilarity as it did. Let alone I didn't realize how many people sympathized with me. To be 100% candor with you, I love first shooting and I actually enjoy doing family photos. My brides that I have are the best and the reason I love family photos is because the families I've had the chance of working with are just as rad as their sons and daughters are!
This blog though doesn't have anything to do with tips and tricks of how to take better family portraits, but rather it has everything to do with Second Shooting. In that group I'm a part of a few people asked me how they could get involved with second shooting for someone. So, while this post isn't profound, new, or exciting for some, I'm writing this because I want to be able to pass on three (two that worked for me) that have helped me get into second shooting while still having the opportunity to first shoot.
1. Join a Photography Group
I'm currently in the Seattle/Tacoma area, but will be moving down to the Portland area fairly soon. Early on when I started shooting weddings and wanting to look for more opportunities to grow and learn, I joined a few photography groups that were local to the area that I was in. More often than not there were photographers who would post that they were in need of a second shooter. If I was available and it looked like our shooting styles were similar, as well as equipment, I would let them know that I was available. While it's not many, I was able to second shoot 4 times in 2016 due to those groups I was a part of. One of those photographers I worked with actually became a really great friend and I have since worked on a few projects with her. I also have a few weddings this upcoming year where I will be shooting second with her as well!
2. Network with other photographers
While it was one thing to join these groups, it was another thing to find a real live community that was formed from these groups. Luckily for me, living in Tacoma I was blessed to have a group called Made To Create PNW that was founded by four lovely women who brought together a community of photographers from all different walks of experience. From picking up cameras for the first time to being workshop leads at their retreats or workshops - we were all there and it was a great system.
It was this community though that actually led to me finding my very first creative mentor. I knew that at some point I wanted to break away from senior portraits and start getting into work that was a bit more rewarding. Not only did my mentor allow me to second shoot with her for a whole summer, but I was also able to walk through a business season with her. I learned a lot about the financial side of things. While I don't work with her as often, she still has referred me as a second shooter when people are looking for one OR she's actually referred clients to me that are looking for their own wedding photographer :)
3. Reach Out!
I wrote above that only two of these worked for me and so this is the one that didn't work, BUT I've heard people who have had success by reaching out, haha. Once you've reached out, the worst thing that you hear from the photographer is they say "no". By not reaching out, the worst thing you can hear is nothing at all. So take that risk and ask away!
Anyway, the reason I even want to put this one out there is the fact that the wedding industry can be tough and it takes quite a lot of guts to honestly ask someone if you could second shoot for them or even hold their bags. It says a lot about someone who just simply wants to get in the space of someone who is doing what you yourself are wanting to do. Again, this didn't work for me when I reached out, but I knew that I wanted to do weddings and it someway it did work out when I asked my mentor if she'd be willing to teach me some stuff that I was lacking.
All of that aside, I do want to share why it really didn't work in my favor when I did this. For starters, I had ZERO experience when it came to bridal work. The idea of wanting to do weddings was far beyond the actual portfolio I had, which didn't exist at the time. I didn't set myself up for success here, haha.
The other reason why I want to share this is now that I do shoot my own weddings I want to be able to give some insight on why a photographer simply will say no. I didn't really understand branding or style back then as I was still trying to figure mine out, but that's the thing, as a wedding photographer now I do have a style and brand that I want to upkeep for my clients. After all, that's part of why they choose me. Because of my style and brand, I have chosen to work with specific photographers who have become my trusted second shooters. That being said, I have taken on some photographers over the last three wedding seasons and have allowed them to tag along for the experience of a wedding day.
Lucky for you, you only had to read this and not sit next to me while I try to talk your ear off. This isn't a be-all-end-all kind of list, but it's just a few ways to get out there if you want to second shoot. If you truly are looking to second shoot and hopefully become a wedding photographer, definitely look in your area and see what opportunities you have there.
That's it for now!
- Rick Andrew Baleros