I was hired a few months ago to work a wedding as a second shooter with my own gear (gear listed in my signature). The photographer paid me $800 + $300 expenses. I thought this was very fair since I had to travel a few hours and would stay the night before so I would be well rested for the day. We shot for about 8 hours and then I handed the cards over at the end of the night, got paid, and that was it.
What a great gig I thought! I like shooting weddings, but always hated dealing with the months of work beforehand and the lifetime of work after. As a second shooter, I can make a decent rate and not have to deal with any of the headaches.
So this week I started contacting every photographer in my city - hundreds of them - armed with the finished shots and high praise from the last photographer. I crafted a nice email and, to my delight, immediately started getting replies and requests to contact them as there was work to be had.
I picked up the phone and started calling, replied to dozens of emails, and had generally a very positive welcoming until... they asked what my rate was. $100/hour if I use my gear, $50/hour if I use yours. If it's in town, I can book 4 hour half days or 8 hour full days. Out of town shoots are 8 hours or more plus travel. EVERYONE'S reply was exactly the same: "You've got to be kidding? We pay $15/hour and you provide the gear and that's it." One guy even just plain hung up.
Others said get back to us if you want to work for $15/hour. Several asked how old I was (because they had problems with younger photographers apparently) to which I promptly replied that's irrelevant and even illegal to ask.
So now I'm wondering what the hell is going on out there in second shooter land? I've worked in commercial television and film my entire life, and $15/hour would be a joke to hire a guy with his own gear. Even staff guys using company gear make more than that. Should I give up my email barrage or keep going? Am I being unreasonable?