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Second Shooter Wedding Rates & Woes

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Thread started 01 Jul 2009 (Wednesday) 14:54   
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aroundlsu
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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: :shock: "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?

Post #1, Jul 01, 2009 14:54:45


Teddy Smith, SOC
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stevefossimages
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I'd latch on to the first photographer who paid you what you deserved. If you can become his/her regular second shooter you'll have a whole career going on. All the fun without all the hassle.

Post #2, Jul 01, 2009 15:32:06


Steve Foss
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For weddings and guided wilderness photo excursions: www.stevefossimages.co​mexternal link

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Megapixle
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It's supply and demand, just like everything else in life. There are boatloads of people that would be more than willing to work for much less than $100/hour, so why would they pay you $100/hour?

So yes, I guess that means you're being unreasonable.

Post #3, Jul 01, 2009 15:32:39


Gear

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Ralph ­ Merlino
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Most of the second shooters that I have talked to
seem to get around $250.00 for a wedding.

Post #4, Jul 01, 2009 22:08:14 as a reply to Megapixle's post 6 hours earlier.




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aroundlsu
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Is that using their own cameras?

Post #5, Jul 01, 2009 22:45:31 as a reply to Ralph Merlino's post 37 minutes earlier.


Teddy Smith, SOC
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tim
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$100/hr is unreasonable IMHO. You'd have to be pretty good if you want to be paid $50/hr too. 2nd shooters are nice to have, not essential.

Post #6, Jul 01, 2009 22:58:58


NZIPP Qualified Professional wedding photographer.
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aroundlsu
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You guys are charging two to three grand for a wedding and you feel another $400 (which you just bill the bride for) is unreasonable?

Post #7, Jul 01, 2009 23:36:47 as a reply to tim's post 37 minutes earlier.


Teddy Smith, SOC
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Karl ­ Johnston
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I think you just gotta find that guy you originally worked for, or more of them. Not every print sells for 1100$, nor 3500..most of mine sell 40-200 $ each (I do fine art/retail photography). Know what I mean?

Sometimes you find that big buyer..sometimes you get lucky.. other times most people are looking to low-ball the hell out of you.

Keep looking for that big buyer but don't limit yourself if you can't; any job is better than no job, 15 $ an hour is better than 0.

Whether its logical or reasonable has no terms in business; you need to find your market. . Look at walmart. god knows their reputation is not at all "reasonable" in their business practices but they're the wealthiest players in the game.

Post #8, Jul 02, 2009 00:18:23


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tim
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aroundlsu wrote in post #8210286external link
You guys are charging two to three grand for a wedding and you feel another $400 (which you just bill the bride for) is unreasonable?

You can't just lump another $400 onto the bill, that increases your price and reduces the chance you'll get the work to start with. If it's an option very few people will take it.

How much of that $3000 we charge do you think is profit? I'll give you a clue - far less than you'd imagine. When you factor in the huge number of expenses and overheads like equipment purchase and repair, albums (which cost a BOMB), prints, accountant, computer equipment, software, etc, then take away sales and income tax, the profit from an individual wedding is not what you might expect. I spent enough on wedding albums last year to buy a new car. For each wedding $400 is a significant proportion of the profit.

Honestly, 2nd shooters might take a few nice shots, but there's no way they'd pay for themselves in print sales. The couple can only have one person take a photo of them at a time, except for print which doesn't sell, and the extra candids aren't worth much.

I think you need to consider the value you add and price yourself accordingly.

Post #9, Jul 02, 2009 01:37:54


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Karl ­ Johnston
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"When value cannot be objectified, it cannot be subjectively added."

How would you feel if you got a car bill from a mechanic who had an apprentice work on your car for a mechanic's work rate? It's unethical, though, happens all the time..(bastards!)

Besides the point..I hope you get the picture

By the way, have you got a website or something? That could help find you work, online as a 2nd shooter. Check the classifieds forum; there's always someone looking for someone to do a wedding/backup/last minute thing in there. I also want to see the picture in your avatar up close, it looks kinda cool with the flare thingie happening ...though I can't make out what it is

Post #10, Jul 02, 2009 02:02:34


Adventurous Photographer, Writerexternal link & Wedding Photographerexternal link

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form
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I've been shooting weddings for a little over a year now and I don't charge quite $100/hour even as a primary photographer. I think $100/hour is very generous for a second shooter unless they're experienced and quite skilled. I've made up to $40/hour for second shooter jobs, but I would feel very uncomfortable asking for more.

Post #11, Jul 02, 2009 02:03:50


Las Vegas Wedding Photographer: http://www.joeyallenph​oto.comexternal link

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Karl ­ Johnston
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Hey look what I found!
http://photography-on-the.net/forum/showthre​ad.php?t=717937 (400$ 2nd shooter)
http://photography-on-the.net/forum/showthre​ad.php?t=717442 (150$ assistant)
http://photography-on-the.net/forum/showthre​ad.php?t=714357 (pay is "low" but stat is a good photographer)

Just gotta look around

Post #12, Jul 02, 2009 02:15:49


Adventurous Photographer, Writerexternal link & Wedding Photographerexternal link

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Gatorboy
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$100 per hour of shooting might be reasonable if you culled your images and delivered edited/toned, print-ready images, rather than just the flash cards at the end of the event.

Post #13, Jul 02, 2009 07:32:27


Dave Hoffmann

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tim
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Gatorboy wrote in post #8211298external link
$100 per hour of shooting might be reasonable if you culled your images and delivered edited/toned, print-ready images, rather than just the flash cards at the end of the event.

Sure, but I still really don't see how a 2nd shooter helps all that much. An assistant who occasionally shoots is far more useful to me.

Post #14, Jul 02, 2009 07:54:47


NZIPP Qualified Professional wedding photographer.
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Gatorboy
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tim wrote in post #8211370external link
Sure, but I still really don't see how a 2nd shooter helps all that much. An assistant who occasionally shoots is far more useful to me.

I agree.

Post #15, Jul 02, 2009 08:10:43


Dave Hoffmann

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