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FAQ: How Do I Find Second Shooting Opportunities?

Hi Ashley!!  
I am just getting started into wedding photography (well, really, photography in general- have been doing families and babies for the last few months and have just started "interning" as a wedding photographer with the lovely lady who did my wedding). I just watched your showit interview from today- loved it, thank you so much for doing that!! :) I had one follow up question from your video! I am interested in doing a lot of second shooting this/next season, and I am struggling a bit to find those opportunities (or more so, to know what to say to photographers to ask about it) and was wondering if you might tell me a little about that process for you and how you got those "gigs". :)  
Thank you SO much for your time (and...your puppy is so so adorable!!!!) :) 
~ Eager to Second Shoot
Dear Eager to Second Shoot, 
Thank you for the kind words and for the great question! It's one I often get asked. That is so exciting that you getting into wedding photography and I think second shooting is an excellent way to get your feet wet! In the very beginning, I actually third shot (there was already a second shooter, so I was the third : ) ) with a wedding photographer and other photogs that I had met while planning my wedding! As far as approaching photographers to ask about second shooting opportunities, I honestly don't think there is one way to go about doing it however I do have some things that I have found are helpful to keep in mind: 
- Assisting, just like shooting, can be educational. When I first started I was desperate to learn anything and everything I could about wedding photography. I was willing to second shoot or fifth shoot - it didn't matter, I just wanted to learn. : ) I carried bags, set up light equipment and went to weddings where I didn't pick up the camera once. And I learned A TON through observation about the flow of a wedding day, client interaction, setting up lights, etc. I framed photos in my mind's eye, practiced identifying great light, and looked for great angles. I am so happy that this was part of my learning process because it formed a great foundation layer. So even if you are not shooting in the beginning and are just assisting, it can be super educational! I quickly became a third shooter and then a second shooter for one key photographer I had been assisting. So don't be afraid to offer to assist a photographer to get your foot in the door! Both of the photographers I second shot with talked to me about my goals early on and so I had the opportunity to discuss with them my desire to shoot at some point and not just assist forever. : ) 
- Write a specific and personalized email. I don't recommending sending out a mass generic email reaching out to photographers you wanted to inquire about assisting/second shooting with. I recommend picking 5 photographers that you really respect and whose work you love in your area. I would write them each a personalized email telling them specifically what you like about THEM and why you would love the opportunity to assist THEM. Tell them how eager you are to learn and ask for the opportunity to assist. I would be sure to tell them what you can bring to the table (assisting, carrying bags, etc) for them. For me, some of the photographers paid me for my assistance /second shooting and other times they provided me with mentor sessions in exchange for my time, which is why I recommend to reaching out to photographers you love and admire! Some may not pay or mentor you, so it's up to you if that is what you are looking for or just the experience and chance to shadow. 
- Look within your local network. There are so many wonderful local photography groups and networks, which can be a great resource especially when it comes to second shooting opportunities. Not only can you reach out to photographers in the group that you know and would love to shoot with, but sometimes photographers will post within the group's social media outlets like the group Facebook page, for example, specific weddings they are looking for an assistant/second shooter for. This can be great for having the opportunity to work with all different photographers and their different shooting styles In addition, you could even write a post putting it out there you are looking for second shooter opportunities.  
- The "NO's" will come. It's okay, and goodness knows I received my fair share. Not every photographer is looking for an assistant of another shooter, so don't let a no stop you from reaching out to other folks in the industry! Sometimes it takes time to find these kinds of opportunities with a great match. However, in the end it is worth all the time and effort especially if wedding photography is what you want to do!! 
Hope this is helpful!!! : )

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