Last week we talked about finding assistant photographers to second shoot on wedding days. Once you have a list of potential candidates there are a few things to do before you hire them, once you have hired them, and even after you have worked together.
Review Their Work
Before hiring a second shooter I generally ask to see a portfolio of work as well as either some form of references from fellow vendors or I set up a try out or both. I recently hosted my first try out for assistants here locally. We walked through expectations and then jumped straight into posing.
This allowed me to see how they all worked together as they each took on lead and assistant rolls with the models. If showed me how each worked under pressure and gave me an idea of their skill level. At the end of the day I asked them to send a gallery of unedited images from the session for me to review.
This try out coupled with references tells me their personality type, skill level, and work ethic. In learning this I am able to asses which assistant will pair best with which wedding. Something awesome came out of this as well . . but more later.
After Action Reviews
Generally the week after the wedding I like to preform an after action review of the second photographers work and go over any questions they may have. This allows them to grow in their skill level and correct any issues that came up. I use a system called 3A+ from The Arbinger Institute, developed to help rate where they are and where I hope to see them grow to.
Why Do This?
I have often had other vendors ask me why I invest so much time into my second shooters when most people out there are covering wedding days with their spouses who then are a permanent fixture in the business. As much as I would love to have my husband work along side me, due to his job requirements, it simply isn’t feasible to do that at this time. As to my assistant photographers, these folks are also growing their own businesses and while they are helping me to serve my clients, they are also learning how to serve their own. Since I travel all over the United States, they also become a great resource in the event we have a wedding near them or a client we can’t serve but can refer back to them. . . I have more on how we make this work coming next week.