Wedding photography is not rocket science, although it’s certainly not easy and comes with a lot of responsibility. So in my opinion, if you’re looking to get a job as a second shooter, you should actually work as a wedding photography assistant first and get your foot in the door that way.
It lets you get a behind the scenes look at how a wedding photographer operates throughout a wedding day. You’ll pick up some technical wedding photography skills along the way as well as how a wedding photographer interacts with their clients and subjects.
So, being wedding photography assistant is a good way to get a start in the industry. But how do you find wedding photography assistant jobs?
Join Local Photography Facebook Groups
If your city is big enough to have a Facebook group dedicated to just wedding photographers, that’s ideal. But if not, most decent sized cities have at least a general photography group for photographers of all sorts in the area.
Rather than simply begging for jobs, join these groups and become part of the discussion and community. Post pictures, ask for advice and legitimately make friends and business connections.
The ideal situation is to let photographers know that you’re available after they’ve posted looking for an assistant. This way you know for sure that they’re actively looking for an assistant rather than if you had just cold emailed them or reached out to them without you having any sort of prior interaction. And if you’ve gotten involved in the community and they’ve noticed that, you’re more likely to get an offer, even if it’s just a one-off gig.
Google is Your Friend
The other way I approached this when just starting out was to google wedding photographers in my area and reach out to them directly through their websites.
When I did this I was living abroad in Brazil and barely spoke any Portuguese at the time so I know it’s possible. It’s how I got my first assisting job which turned into third and second shooting.
It’s important that if you’re going to take this approach though to respect the photographers you reach out to and not just treat them like a number. That means not blasting out emails to every single wedding photographer in your city. It also means not using a template email with just the name changed(although if you’re sending out emails that begin with something generic like ‘dear sir’ or ‘dear madam’, that’s going to be extremely off-putting and will be even more likely to get your message deleted).
If you get familiar with a photographer’s work and you’re able to articulate what you like about it, it goes a long ways to building a rapport with them.
Photographers network as well, so go easy on how many messages you send out at a time. If you send out a handful of emails one week and you haven’t heard back, it’s probably safe to say you can send out a few more. Just don’t go overboard with it or you run the risk of getting a bad reputation.
Landing a gig as a wedding photography assistant can open up a lot of doors if you want to pursue a career in wedding photography. It’s not your typical job though, so if you really want it you have to put yourself out there and be persistent.