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Photography Question 
Alicia McMahill
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/19/2005

Got shot down for help

I live in a small stoplight small:} I have been reading all over that I should get on as a photo assistant and work from there for more experience...well our town has a pro and I asked him if he would mind talking to me and working/letting me shadow him or something like that. Now mind you I know this guy from my 'real' job at the local school, and he is a nice guy but when I asked him for this help - he huffed at me and truned around and walked off! The next town that is close is 45 min. away one way! How do I go about getting to work with someone to see the things that I just don't know about yet:} I would like to shaddow a wedding or a family setting or something like that but with my kids and no one local to help me.... next idea?

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8/13/2005 5:01:20 PM

Liza M. Franco
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/26/2004
  Hi Alicia, I understand your frustration. I was approached by someone recently who is a recent graduate of the NY photo institute and she wants to know if she can shadow me. As a business person, I think the first thought is a combination of being honored that they've thought so highly of you and the concern that this person may someday be your competition. Many people are afraid that you will learn all their secrets. I live in a small town too, not as small as yours, but competition runs rampant here. I have told her that she can shadow me. Everyone has different styles anyway and some people find after trying it for a while that maybe it isn't the type of work they want to do, you just never know.

Read every bit of wedding photography do and don'ts that you can find on the internet. Now, that doesn't compare to hands on experience I understand, stay with me on this one. Cram as much info into your head as you can.

Once you feel sure of yourself, go for it. You may have to just wing it and put yourself out there for hire. A big step I know. Think confidently and start letting florists, caterers and bridal shops know that you are just starting out and are willing to shoot some weddings at cost or free if need be just to gain experience. I promise there are going to be couples out there that have spent so much money on everything else that they are going to jump at the chance. Some couples don't even try to hire a photographer because they simply can't afford it. They rely on photos taken by family members and hope for the best. At least you are giving them a chance at something more professional. Most importantly, don't sugar coat the situation. Let them know that it is your 1st, 2nd, 3rd wedding and that you are trying to gain experience and build a portfolio. Make sure that you put it all in writing and have them sign in front of a witness, cover your butt. Explain in writing that weddings are uncontrolled enviroments and events and that you are not responsible if the photos aren't what they've hoped for or if there are missed shots.

If you shoot digital, then the best way to go would be to volunteer your services for the ceremony. After downloading them to your computer allow them to view them. At that time you can give them a cd with all their photos and a copyright release which will allow them the right to make copies of your work. You will still maintain ownership. Or, you can offer to sell them prints.

John Lind has survival guide for non-pro wedding photographer who have been wrangled into photographing a family or friends wedding. It is really informative.

Hope this helps you out a bit. If you have a passion for this type of photography, stay strong, confident and go for it. This is exactly the route I took. I'm not going to say it was all easy and perfect, but it went much smoother than I ever would have expected. Mistakes will happen, but if someone isn't paying you they really can't get angry either. Before the wedding I make a list of every shot I know I need to get and get a contact person from the bride who is familiar with most of the people who will need to be photographed. That person can be getting the next group ready while you're photographing. It will be a tremendous help to you.

Good Luck to you.


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8/13/2005 5:49:36 PM

Alicia McMahill
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/19/2005
Thank you for the post. I have a family wedding that is coming up this fall, that I have told I would come do some photos of. They are a less than conventional couple and they both know that I have not done weddings befor and they are willing to be my guiny pigs:}
Thank you for the link I will look at it tonight. And the ideas on the wedding in general. I got married about a year ago and remember all of the mess with tht photographer...a part time pro and I was a bit less than happy so I can see both sides I guess.
I don't know that I only want to do weddings, all photography is great to me but I don't have much hopes for mags or high end publications;}
Thanks for the shot in the arm and I will post soon as to how things progress:}

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8/13/2005 6:29:46 PM

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