How many additional shooters do you use........

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by hassy501, Nov 12, 2008.

  1. How many shooters do you use for your wedding coverage and if it is multiple shooters, how does this affect your
    bottom line ?

    I occasionally use seconds but only on my top packages.........never on smaller jobs. Yet i know of wedding
    photographers who bring along 2 and 3 shooters who are charging 1000.00 for an all day coverage .......that is can they make any "real" money doing that ?
  2. George -

    My guess is the the 2nd makes less than $50 per hour and a 3rd is doing it for free get experience.

    I'm the same as you...99% of the time it's just me, the other 1% is for my top end stuff.

  3. Hmmm.......shooting for that something prevalent in the industry ?
  4. I always have an associate photographer at each wedding. My web site gives some reasons for this and is further
    explained during the initial client meeting.
  5. Bill, do you pay your shooter and how does that affect your bottom line in your market and what you sell ? Do you have to increase your pricing to cover the cost ? Are the additional images you get worth the cost ?
  6. Of course I pay my associate photographers as they are all quality artists. One of my associates, at a recent wedding,
    walked into the ladies getting ready room and walked up to the bride and said, "I know you! I did your HS Senior
    pictures." Out of the corner of her eye she could see tha maid of honor getting ready and said, "I know you too! I was
    the photographer for your wedding."

    This is an important piece to my business. I serve on the board of the TCPPA and Am quite active with them. Many
    benefits of belonging to an organization like this, I've got friends because of the TCPPA and I also have the ability to
    watch for prospective people who could help build my business.

    We are successful because we operate as a team.
  7. I'm promoting the concept of two always.

    Weddings are a one shot deal.

    The next day the food is gone and the flowers are wilted.

    The photographs are the memories.
  8. 1, and if the reception is large, my wife will be shooting some candids. 100% to the bottom line.
  9. The trend in our market, seems to be leaving no room for second shooters, next year . We pay between $125-75 hr for additional photographers > but, I can usually cover a 4-6 hour wedding by myself. That second shooter is not really going to capture that many "extra" images >>> necessary to justify their assistance. And takes considerable time to train them :: in the style you are offering your B&G .
  10. For the average wedding - $30,000 or so - two shooters is hard to justify.

    At the upper end, $100,000 and up, you probably need an established team to be considered.
  11. I use 0 shooters, and would use 0 shooters if I was charging the most money.

    It is easy to pick up eager photographers (young and old) wanting to become wedding photographers who will shoot for free. Whether they add anything to your offering to your client is sometimes questionable, and they 'could' be a liability.

    One would think that if you are paying a second decent money, you are getting decent money from your client.
  12. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member


    For the last two jobs, (October) I did not used my Assistant Photographer - unusual, but an economic imperative for the size of the coverage and fee the studio charged.

  13. I use a second/assistant all the time. It's not a consideration for me. I have to have someone near who can in a pinch get the shot or run for a new lens as my 35/1.4 just hit the floor!
  14. Always have a second. Love having them. They can get different shots that I can't, we can be in 2 places at once, if anything happend to any of my shots there will be backups, if i died in a car accident on the way - there would still be a photographer there! It's a personal choice but I feel more secure with a second and love having someone to bounce ideas off.

    Usually my second shooters have done a few of their own weddings, but not as many as me. They are always great fun. I pay them, the amount depends on what I'm getting paid. It's entirely up to them whether they want to do it or not at the price I offer. I try to be fair though.
  15. I guess alot of it depends on what market you are in......... and for experienced wedding shooters, it doesn't seem to be that necessary as opposed to newer insecure wedding photographers.........from what i've just read ?
  16. Bill, could you absolutely cover a wedding by yourself if you had to and be successful or would you NEED that second ?
  17. I've done both and have covered more on my own rather than with a second shooter. There's certainly advantages to having a second camera but the acid-test comes down to dollars and cents. Does the cost of a 2nd camera bring more sales in reprints? (typically not) Does the extra dimesion in depth of coverage justify the additional cost? Depends on the clients.....Most of them are happy to save a few hundred dollars after looking at the coverage from several examples from weddings I did solo.
  18. Probably had 10 second shooters >> since 1980. Just not a PJ style coverage in my package. If I didn't see
    the shot >> I didn't miss it.
  19. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    > I guess alot of it depends on what market you are in <

    Yes I agree that is a factor, though I would word it: ``depends to what market your are selling``.


    > and for experienced wedding shooters, it doesn't seem to be that necessary as opposed to newer insecure wedding photographers <

    As kindly as I can state it:

    If one is so insecure in one`s own ability to need an additional Photographer, then, IMO one should not be the Lead Photographer, nor taking the Client`s money.

  20. What about just wanting a second shooter so you can mentor them?

    I have been considering offering my services to a wedding photographer for some time. I have no prior experience, which
    is why I would work for free, but it since "for experienced wedding shooters, it doesn't seem to be that necessary as
    opposed to newer insecure wedding photographers," I am reconsidering. I don't want to work under someone who is
    insecure or inexperienced. So where would I start, if all the experienced wedding photographers don't want inexperienced
    second shooters or don't want second shooters at all? Does nobody take on the task of passing on the trade anymore?
  21. I'm sure there are many pros willing to mentor........but in this current economy where weddings are being scaled back, brides are choosing smaller coverages, there is a glut of "wedding" photographers, it's tough training the future competition..............As I suspect most wedding pros got started, we just went out and did it.......probably had some other type of photography background, used THAT to move into weddings, covered small jobs, some for free, maybe relatives, friends, then moved forward from there.............

    I personally know many "wedding" photographers who are making money, with no formal training.......selling yourself is as much a part of the profession as the actual work.

    Second shooting is a great way to learn if you can get those gigs...........
  22. In the earlier days > it was film. Way too costly to "experiment." One had to shoot somewhat towards a degree
    of perfection. Not a fix it later attitude. The newer second shooters, that approach us, seeming do not
    understand :: manual exposure, manual flash, even using a hand meter... ? We spend very little time correcting
    images in post and the 2nd shooter has to be willing to have training > in the above save us
    that time.
  23. "Bill, could you absolutely cover a wedding by yourself if you had to and be successful or would you NEED that second

    Sure I could cover a wedding by myself. For me, it's part of my business that I show the advantages to prospective
    clients at our first and subsequent meetings with them. When the ladies are getting ready I can work with the men. If
    I'm near the front for the ceremony then she can be in the back and balcony. Some beautiful pictures can be created
    just before dad walks her down the aisle. There are quite a few other situations where I can tell the story better with an
    associate photographer.

    Just what I offer. It's not right or wrong but it's what I do.

    Clients seem to like it.

    Maybe that's just a piece of my business that helps me get new clients w/o any print advertising.
  24. George,

    reading your original question, I am curious if you can charge enough to cover the cost on a "higher end" wedding, and you would like to have a second all the time, why don't you just charge more for your "lower end" packages. Just enough to cover it. ??

    I on the other hand, could not possibly work alone,....just to insecure :)
  25. Dennis Reggie talks about "10% of the total budget for photography/video."

    So I think George has it about right- at a certain price point- budget point- you can charge enough to pay 2 shooters well.

    You just need to find the clients that have the budget.
  26. I find it strange how some people have decided, from the tiny amount given away in the posts above, that it's the newer people that need second shooters where as more experience ones dont . When I first started out in wedding photography all the people I seconded with were long seasoned pro's, who were fantastic mentors with a wealth of experience. I am not inexperienced myself either.

    I think that there are lots of pluses to having a second, not just the security (I think some people above just like to have a dig and put other people down). For the person that said they were re-considering tagging along because of some of the comments, please do find someone, you learn so much. Just try a few pro's out and see who you think you'll learn the most from. I think it's the absolutely best way to start off.

    Oh and theres no problem with being a little insecure - all the best artists are. It's once you become so confident that you think there is nothing left to learn that the problems begin :)
  27. There are several costs/benefits to both using a 2nd shooter and shooting solo. Personally for my studio, it's offerred
    ale cart and most clients will choose not to spend the additional money for extra images and an extra depth of
    coverage (although I could easily make a case for the value of both). I've also brought new shooters along on some
    jobs to give them some mentoring in return for some extra images/depth to the coverage.

    A good friend of mine runs/owns a successful studio in the Lincoln Park area of Chicago and he made the decision
    to offer two photographers as a studio coverage-style choice. I was a lead shooter and was always teamed with a
    2nd shooter, I frequently had the same photographer as my 2nd and we developed a terrific chemistry that added a
    significant dimension to our wedding coverage. Having her with me made the job easier and alot more enjoyable. Joe
    Buissink routinely uses two shooters but in his case, it's his 2nd shooter that covers the more traditional formals,
    groups, standard shots, etc....which in turn frees him to be creative and play.

    I've seen a few vendors (photographers, vidographers, & DJs) that typically partner with a spouse, often it comes off
    as amatuerish and I think it can appear less than professional. OTOH, there are also the exceptions (Jeff & Julia
    Woods, Jeff & Kathleen Hawkins, the Mannings, etc....) where spouses add a tremendous synergy to the job.

    I doubt that feelings of security/insecurity ever play a part in the cost/benefit analysis in offerring a 2nd shooter for
    any established
    photographer or studios.
  28. George - You could get a student or a person in your family or community that is passionately interested in photography to work for cheap or free.

    A wedding can easily be covered by one person in my opinion. I never used second shooters although when an assistant started catching on - I'd let them shoot with my other camera if I didn't need them for a few min. here and there. Normally during the reception or if they saw something on the sides when I was shooting groups.

    I would never shoot without someone to carry my bags, hold my other cameras, in my case load film, batteries etc. Basically a gopher. One great use is when you drive up to the church or reception and they just drop me off and go park the car. I don't have to miss a minute by having to park in a parking garage or find parking if it's in a metropolitan area.

    I've done weddings like this for weddings from 30 people to 300 people and I can honestly say I was able to be everywhere and with the use of a zoom lens - I didn't miss much.
  29. I always shoot as a pair.
    But there's no concept of a 'second' photographer - we're equal partners, both primary shooters, comfortable, experienced and competent. We can both cover all aspects of the wedding, being equally skilled without preference or specialism. The result is we get much richer coverage - the same significant moments shot from different angles, different focal lengths, different light, etc. And we've done it enough that we never get in each other's way.
    We share the post-production and album design too. Overall effect is that we manage a lot with minimum expended effort, and can provide a higher level of coverage (and value) to the client. For instance, covering b+g getting ready at the same time in different locations, or concurrent coverage of the bride arriving and the groom at the altar. Plus we can take on more work because we can turn it around faster.
  30. I charge separately for a second photographer so it doesn't affect my bottom line. The only time when I absolutely require a second photographer is when there are more than 200 guests and the couple wants a lot of guest photographs. Otherwise, a second photographer is optional and will cost extra.
  31. I rarely shoot solo anymore. My wife is an accomplished photographer in her own right and we've worked weddings
    together for at least the last 15 years. I find that she brings a different perspective than I, and has a more focused sense
    of detail than I generally tended to do when I worked alone. She sees things from the brides' perspective that I may not be
    immediately sensitive to. Having a recently married daughter has also brought to home some of the anxieties that parents
    and brides fret over and she empathizes well with them and makes them feel more comfortable.

    At each venue (home/church/park/reception, we split up and have been doing it long enough to know where each of us
    will be - it works well for us and our style.

    And she works for free... ;-)

  32. As many above me... I pay my assistants (they are artists and their time is worth something), and always try to use them if possible. My wife is become a great photographer in her own right too... so that'll be nice.
    I like having them and think it gives a better product. I find it lets me focus more without having to worry about missing a particular item... for instance, I can work on group dynamics if my assistant is setting up lights for formals.
    Another thing nice about it is that it allows for experimentation. For example: you need a shot of the bride walking down the isle... so experimenting on this shot is likely not a good idea. But if you have a second, you can hit the 'required shot' and some climb-in-the-rafters experimental shot too...
  33. My wife worked for years, as a photographer, along side me, The weddings were larger and a longer day. The last few years has been 4 hour / 50+ people coverage. We were mainly using film and made every shot count. She would have a session with the Bride in B&W and then I would have one in color..........way too much time & pressure for the B&G.
  34. where would I start, if all the experienced wedding photographers don't want inexperienced second shooters or don't want second shooters at all? Does nobody take on the task of passing on the trade anymore?
    I think it stopped being a trade the moment the only condition to entry was owning a digital camera and buying a template website, or when cruising craigslist became a viable alternative to having photographic skills, or when the number of photos delivered became more important than what was in them.
    If you're talented, with a strong portfolio in some other form of photography and the skills to back it up, then you should find people willing to work with you quite easily. But if you're not, don't be surprised if the only people interested in working with you are other new entrants.
  35. Would love to pass on the trade ..... just not sure if the "new shooters " want to learn the ~ manual method ~ and a far less candid approach > that some us may still perform.
  36. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    > I have been considering offering my services to a wedding photographer for some time.<

    Benjamin, I suggest you do not ``consider``: either do it or do not do it.


    > Does nobody take on the task of passing on the trade anymore? <

    FYI, (intrinsically related, touches on those points which Neil makes, and much more):

  37. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Hmm - C Jo Gough and I were having similar thoughts, and at the same time, it appears


  38. I will do it. It is just a matter of when, as I am very busy with school now.

    I am learning the "manual method," and there are other young people who are as well. We're just hard to find. I am going
    to approach this as a trade, and not how many people approach it now, as Neil has pointed out. That is how I want to
    learn. So some of you may get a call from me sometime in the future.

    As to the OP, there are people out there who will work for free/cheap, but I would say it will be hard to find one that fits your
    style and does what you need and want them to do. Nothing comes for free, right?
  39. I personally prefer working's just my personality.......i can get into my "zone" without worrying about what my second is doing, getting...........I just don't have much use for the "same" images from multiple's just overkill....................and adds to my bottom line of images, post production and images delivered..............all of that "time" involved costs so much not only in monetary costs but in "life" time away from my family and relaxation..............

    The age of shoot it, bag it, send it, put in an album are long gone.................and post production time is so costly If you calculate the time involved................i think alot of photographers don't even factor that time into their bottom line and figure it just comes with the territory.........i know I didn't factor it initially, but NOW I can see just how costly it has's turned into a love/hate affair..................
  40. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    > I will do it. It is just a matter of when . . . etc <

    Benjamin, good, that last post gives clarity and purpose to your plan.

    Good luck.

  41. GEORGE ::: "and post production time is so costly If you calculate the time involved................I think alot of photographers don't even factor that time into their bottom line and figure it just comes with the territory.........i know I didn't factor it initially, but NOW I can see just how costly it has become.." <p>

    There are different "ways" of shooting ~~ to eliminate much of the post production. We charge for the post work & to keep our cost down ~~ you just have to move to a old criteria ...manual. <p>
    We can confidentially deliver exposed film or a card >> at the end of a days session....and safely know the client will be happy. Just work harder on the PRE == less on the POST.
  42. I shoot 90 percent of my wedding in manual........i'm an old Hasselblad shooter back from the days when men were men.........:) 3 500CM bodies, 6 220 backs, two potato masher flashes, tripod, background, softbox reflector on location...........those days when posed was posed and everything else was silly..........:)

    I preform a complete edit of all of my images prior to delivery.........not just basic takes me longer to complete the post, but my clients get a finished set of images........BW, Sepias, Actions......facial retouching on some, etc............
  43. GEORGE :: Started with a Rollei in 1978. I too carried the Hassy system --even worse - the RZ 67 system with a Nikon flash on the prism > you almost had to wear an arm sling. We offer retouching, Sepia, etc ....but, no one seems to want to pay for added features just a batch action on the files~~ before printing and a DVD delivery.
  44. Can't actually say that I'd bring someone along to 'learn the trade', but I've given a ton of advice to aspiring shooters - mostly on how to deal with clients which has resulted in some very positive feedback. Just this week I had two associates come back to me, one thanking me for advice and remarking on how positive the wedding experience was for him, and the second on how certain techniques had helped him on a shoot for a local jazz club to get his stuff published in a regional jazz newsletter. Sometimes mentoring doesn't mean babysitting.

    On another subject, since cards have become so cheap, I've been toying with the idea of just giving the original (albeit somewhat edited) cards with all images to the clients - in addition to their contracted product - instead of messing around with burning DVDs. At the end of the day, we generally give the client the full set of images anyway so why waste time and extra effort. Any thoughts? Note - we rarely get requests for extra prints or anything else after the fact. --Rich
  45. RICH :: Many times we sell the exposed film or the card , at the end of the day's shoot --frees up time for me = saves $ for the clients ::::::::
  46. Can you lock a CF/XD card so as it can't be formatted, erased or used again? I hesitate giving CF cards with files on
    them to clients even though prices are quite reasonable unless they can be "locked." I can hear some client say, "I
    made a mistake and formatted and used a card w/o realizing they had my wedding pics!" Also most computers today
    can read/write to DVD's/CD's but how many have a card reader?

    Just a thought.
  47. I work with my brother all the time on all our packages, every is great so far. We split everything 50/50 the work and the

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