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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Weddings & Other Family Events Talk 
Thread started 30 Jul 2013 (Tuesday) 21:59
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Mentorships with Wedding Photogs

 
Revan46
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Jul 30, 2013 21:59 |  #1

Hello everyone. New to the site, looks like a great place.

The reason for my topic is sort of straight forward. I've gotten involved with photography as a part of my journalism program and it sort of evolved from just photojournalism to an enjoyment with everything else that comes with photography. One thing I found myself thoroughly enjoying is wedding photography, as with my love of everything else wedding (took a wedding planning course two years ago and got 99% on it) but I've hit a snag. As many know, weddings can be one of the most difficult type of photography and given I don't want to risk ruining someone's memories of their big day, I haven't advertised myself as a wedding photog.

However, I've been e-mailing several wedding photographers in my area (an area of about 250,000 people) and while a few bites (3) have asked me to get in touch in the fall (when I return to school) many have never responded. One of my friends who is involved with portrait and landscape photography said it could be that since my area is heavy with competition because it is a smaller city, they're likely not going to want to train someone, let them second-shoot or even just mentor them without pay (the option I've been asking for) because they don't want someone eventually becoming competition nor stealing clients.

As such I'm wondering if people have any advice of how to get training on being a wedding photographer. I've noted on here some people suggest given amateur status you should do stuff for free which I'm not opposed too, however it's my understanding many professionals feel that those who do things like weddings for free are ruining the business because without pay the photog has no real commitment to the couple to deliver quality shots or even show up. (No offense to anyone on here who does go free, from what I've seen you are not these type of people but I've heard of many in my area). So like I said, is there any suggestions you'd have? I'm currently reading books on wedding photography like posing, what goes into it, the details for the normal day as a wedding photog, etc. I've gotten into going out and shooting but finding models in this city is also rather difficult because my friends apparently are camera shy.

So yes, as I said any help would be much appreciated and sorry if any of this is confusing.


SP Photography & Journalism: http://www.seanprevil.​com (external link)

  
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memoriesoftomorrow
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Jul 30, 2013 23:12 |  #2

Why do you care what other photographers may or may not think? If offering free services is the only way you have to build your portfolio, do it.

You may find if you want mentoring you'll have more chance of success finding it if you pay someone to train you. There is nothing in it for the pro doing the training otherwise.


Peter

  
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picturecrazy
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Jul 30, 2013 23:28 |  #3

What kind of letter did you send to these photographers? Remember, this is like an application for a job! You GOTTA make it stand out and put in the effort for every single letter you send.

I get a LOT of these requests, probably anywhere from 3-15 a week. And 99.9% of them are the same. I don't even read through the whole email because I KNOW that it is ONE email sent to a few dozen photographers at the same time.

They typically look like (this is an actual letter I got)

Hello,

I'm writing to you as I would love to continue working on a freelance basis for an experienced photographer such as yourself. I'm really impressed by the quality and creativity of your work and would love to be part of your business.

In the past I worked on a freelance basis, usually on the weekend. I think that this would work perfectly with my present work situation here in Edmonton.

I'm 33 years old and always work with a smile on my face, no matter how stressed things get. I shoot with a canon 5D mark ii and have a range of lenses (including a wide angle lens, 24-105mm f4 and a 70-200 f2.8 lens) and several speedlites. I edit my pics using Lightroom and Photoshop cs6.

I've attached a couple of references and a resume along with this email and would love to hear from you should you require any assistance on your weddings or portrait shoots.

Regards

xxxxxxxxxxxxx

I WON'T EVEN GIVE THOSE PEOPLE THE TIME OF DAY. I hit delete and do not respond. I feel they are not even worth the time to write a 5 second copy/paste reply saying, "No, sorry we have no openings." I mean, look at it! He didn't even bother to address it to my own name, and there is not even any mention of my company name.

If you put zero effort into showing me that you are TRULY interested in my company, then I have ZERO interest in you.

The people I DO mentor and work with showed me right off the bat that they were willing to put in the effort. These people wrote me letters that showed interest and initiative, and they followed up with phone calls and more messages. These people addressed messages directly to me. I felt like they were actually trying to talk to ME. They mentioned which of my images they loved the most and why, they mentioned what styles and techniques that *I* specifically do which they would love to learn, they took the time to analyze my business and pinpoint exactly what they think they could bring to Night and Day Photography that would be an asset to ME. You see, the difference between someone who puts in the effort is MILES better than someone who sends everyone the exact same email. You're not gonna get a response from everybody, but it will be much better than your first try.

Put in the effort, write a personalized email to each company you contact, and I'm sure you'll have a much better response. When you get so many of them a day, the ones that shine are easy to spot.

Don't be a lazy ass. Nobody wants to hire a lazy ass. So stand out.


-Lloyd
The BOUDOIR - Edmonton Intimate Boudoir Photography (external link)
Night and Day Photography - Edmonton Studio Family Baby Child Maternity Wedding Photographers (external link)
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Revan46
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Jul 30, 2013 23:45 |  #4

memories, I can understand your point though I suppose my biggest concern is atm I'm nowhere near financially able to pay someone to mentor so perhaps the whole thing is a lost cause...it's hard to say.

picturecrazy, I do write personalized e-mails but I see your point, perhaps I didn't make it personalized enough. I'll admit this is the sort of thing I wrote:

Hello <Photographer's name>,
My name is <my name> and I'm a journalist here in Windsor. As part of my program in journalism we learned photojournalism and through several different stories, I developed a real love of photography. From portrait and landscape photography and especially wedding photography, I've come to love all aspects of photography. I was also named Photojournalist of the Year by the program.

The reason I am contacting you is I want to learn more about photography composition and what goes into photo shoots. Wedding photography is something I've really taken an interest with after shooting a wedding show in January and since a wedding show is obviously different, I really want to learn what it's like to shoot weddings and other photo shoots. I've done two shoots in the past couple months with friends and shot both the Run for Rocky and LifeWalk for Hospice events, but I still have a lot to learn.

I've seen the photographs you've taken from weddings, engagement shoots, etc and feel I could learn a lot if you would give me the opportunity to tag along on some weddings and other shoots. I realize you have assistants already, so even if it's not the case of being able to second-shoot, being able to learn how you compose shots I would really appreciate the chance.

I currently have a Canon Rebel T3 and four lenses, a wide-angle 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6, a 75-300mm telephoto lens f/4-5.6, a portrait 40mm f/2.8 and a 50mm standard f/1.8 lens and a universal flash.

Let me know your thoughts and I hope to hear from you,
<My name>

I have a feeling just the fact I said "seen the shots you've taken for weddings, engagements, etc" could've easily turned the photog off. Plus I didn't say what shots I liked or the styles. Is there any chance you'd be able to message me and give me an example of one? I am usually good with writing (like I mentioned, I'm in journalism and have often been commended for my way to spin words) but perhaps with this while I thought I was putting effort in, perhaps I was merely crap shooting thinking oh well you know I mentioned I liked their photography but really, big deal, who doesn't.

So yeah, picturecrazy if there's any tips you can give me (though your post gave me plenty already) about what I had written, I'd really appreciate it. Or even what sort of words you'd want to see in a subject line of an e-mail (I used "Possible Mentorship?" as mine...).


SP Photography & Journalism: http://www.seanprevil.​com (external link)

  
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memoriesoftomorrow
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Jul 31, 2013 06:14 |  #5

Revan46 given your email I'd have hit delete.

Firstly you talk about what you want to get out of the experience. No offence intended but if I'm looking to teach someone I want to know what I get out of it. All you have said in the second paragraph is you care about what you want.

The next paragraph says you haven't really taken much interest in what I do and you just want a free ride. "Tag along" says you aren't taking it seriously (so why should I take you seriously).

Even after that you haven't listed one reason why the situation would benefit me in any way. You've talked almost exclusively about what you want out of it. What do I get? Someone who wants to just tag along. Hell you haven't even gone down the route of offering to carry bags or do whatever it takes.

Your email would be an instant delete. I get plenty of enquiries like yours and I don't bother responding to them. In fact I resent them wasting my bandwidth. Sorry to be blunt but you aren't selling yourself to anyone there.

Ask yourself this though... why should a professional in a ridiculously competitive industry train you for FREE with no benefit to themselves at all? If you want to learn you either need to be prepared to pay for the privilege or be awesome and stand out and earn an opportunity. Your letter resembles the Gen Y approach of entitlement I'm afraid.


Peter

  
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Revan46
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Jul 31, 2013 21:44 |  #6

Any other thoughts what I could do? I've also included my website in my signature if anyone wishes to view my photos, tell me what they think. I kept it to minimalist as I want to showcase my best photos (though even then some might need to still be removed...I might be keeping more than what's needed.


SP Photography & Journalism: http://www.seanprevil.​com (external link)

  
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banquetbear
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Jul 31, 2013 23:28 |  #7

Revan46 wrote in post #16171318 (external link)
Any other thoughts what I could do? I've also included my website in my signature if anyone wishes to view my photos, tell me what they think. I kept it to minimalist as I want to showcase my best photos (though even then some might need to still be removed...I might be keeping more than what's needed.

...well you are in a pickle: and I think the others have spelled out the issues you are up against. Ask yourself the question: what is it you are wanting to learn?

After spending a few minutes looking through your work it might pay for you to spend a bit of time in the critique forums and post some of your portfolio work there. I think that it would be best that you spend a year or two just working on your basic skills: composition, lighting, telling a story. There were a few images, like this one (external link), where a step to your right, and crouching down would tell a very different story to the one you actually took. A few images in your portrait galleries left me scratching my head.

If you want to fast-track it into the wedding industry there are ways to do it: but I don't think you are up to that and I think you recognize that. There is plenty you can learn either through your school, through forums like these or on youtube. Join a photography club. Find like minded people. Start a photography project or two. Spend a couple of days reading every post on this blog. (external link) You don't have to rush your career: you are young, you've got plenty of time.


www.bigmark.co.nzexternal link

  
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Revan46
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Aug 01, 2013 11:44 |  #8

Thanks banquetbear, I think you're right. I probably am trying to rush it more than I should. Besides I probably need to save more money to even have wedding-type lenses. So definitely need to get more practice and eventually (not now, later when I can probably more afford it) better equipment too.


SP Photography & Journalism: http://www.seanprevil.​com (external link)

  
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veritasimg
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Aug 01, 2013 13:48 as a reply to  @ Revan46's post |  #9

There's a huge difference b/t mentorship and training/assisting. When I mentor someone I invest into that person's career and even life because I sincerely believe I want to make a positive impact on his/her career. True mentoring is a selfless (can be thankless) responsibility.

I think what you are probably looking is opportunity to assist/train or internship.

All the best.


Vancouver Portrait Photographer (external link) | Our latest Works @ Veritas Images (external link) | Let's Get Social! (external link)

  
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protege
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Location: Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
     
Aug 02, 2013 00:49 |  #10

Revan46 wrote in post #16171318 (external link)
Any other thoughts what I could do? I've also included my website in my signature if anyone wishes to view my photos, tell me what they think. I kept it to minimalist as I want to showcase my best photos (though even then some might need to still be removed...I might be keeping more than what's needed.

You need to understand that when it comes wedding photography, there is a market for everyone. Some people just do not care about photography - and with today's culture - are more than happy with iphone pics and/or ipad videos. For some, due to budget constraints, it's a luxury they can afford to live without (which ties in with iphone pics, etc). So, don't buy in to this notion that shooting for free or for a minimal fee will "hurt the industry."




  
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Revan46
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Aug 02, 2013 10:41 as a reply to  @ protege's post |  #11

Ok. Maybe I will post for shoots on Kijiji. After all, all I'm asking is to do this for my portfolio and perhaps I can help models, etc. with their portfolios. Though despite doing it for free, should I still make a small contract so that I don't get sued or should I not worry as much about contracts in this case?


SP Photography & Journalism: http://www.seanprevil.​com (external link)

  
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Surb
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Aug 16, 2013 10:59 as a reply to  @ Revan46's post |  #12

I know this posting is a bit old and I have learned a lot from the comments but I wanted to add a couple things (coming from a non photographer).

From the instant you decided you wanted to be a photographer, regardless of skill level, your job is to sell yourself. Since you are selling yourself (and product), let me ask you, is it easier for someone to turn you down face to face or hit "delete" on an email. Review their work, go find them and start talking to them face to face. If they don't have time, schedule a time they are available. Ask them to lunch and discuss what they need and how you can help. Get to know them and see if your personalities match. If I was a photographer, I need someone who is personable and can talk to clients face to face, not by email. Be persistent and come up with the reasons he/she would tell you "no"? Figure out a counter to any rejection and offer a positive solution beneficial to both. If they tell you no, ask why, and counter with something beneficial. If they tell you no again, take a break, Meet again in a day or two and offer a solution. Understand their needs, not yours. You are the product in this case. How will the product benefit anyone? I'm not buying a product if I just have to dump money into it.

Everything is negotiable. If you start out of the gates saying you will "work for free" you look desperate and lost any chance of income potential. Arrange a meeting and negotiate what you can do and what you would like to get out of it. Come to a mutual agreement, then you can discuss income. Since you are already willing to work for nothing, this actually will give you some room for bargaining. Ask for "x" amount (because at this point you have something he/she can use, your product), they will obviously counter with a lower amount and find somewhere in the middle. Even if it is low, it isn't free. Which you were already going to do anyway.

If all else fails, he/she told you no but you just got your face out there. I guaranty you just stood out from anyone who just emailed your potential boss looking for a job. Pretty sure photographers are the same as people in any other career. They know other photographers and when someone is looking for help, he/she may just say "you know, I didn't hire him but there was this guy..."

Last thing, read "Little Red Book of Selling" by Jeffery Gitomer.

Hope I didn't ramble too long
Kirk




  
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