It’s a pretty common question in forums, facebook groups and anyone where wedding photographers seem to unite: what should second shooters get paid?
Before you start yelling out “$30 an hour!” or “$50 an hour!” the reason for this article today is to provide not only a little insight on what an average seems to be but also explain what deciding factors make up said rate.
A second shooter should get paid according to a few things:
Experience as a wedding photographer in general.
Weddings are dynamic days, you have to be able to capture beautiful and meaningful candids, portraits, formal family photos, detail and still life images and work in a variety of lighting conditions – some of which are downright horrible (can we say outdoor portraits at noon? Blah.) Being able to navigate through a wedding day takes skill and while a background in portrait photography may have given you experience in portraits, if you’re newer to weddings you’ll require a lot of training and this is factored in to your rate.
Experience with that particular company
Do you have an existing relationship with the photographer you’re wanting to second shoot for? Have you been working with them for a while and know how they shoot? Can you anticipate their next move and be a beautiful compliment to their talent? Or is it your first time shooting with this person?
Overall quality of work
A primary photographer will review the portfolio of the second shooter and use the overall quality of their work to help determine what they feel a reasonable rate for your services is.
Are all your natural light photos absolutely stellar but anything indoors that requires flash iffy at best? Or can you rock it regardless of lighting conditions? These are things a primary will factor in when determining the rate of pay they feel is appropriate.
But the most important thing that to remember is…
Your experience and your skill, that’s based on what the primary photographers perceives it to be. It’s not based on what you perceive it to be. You may have your friends cheering you on and saying “OMG YOU’RE AMAAAAAZING!” but when a primary assesses your portfolio, they may feel like you’re perfectly adequate and that you’re deserving of a standard wage.
In the Toronto area, I’ve seen average rates range from $25-$35 per hour with exceptions here and there with some photographers paying up to $40 per hour. The actual rate you will be paid, however, is based on everything mentioned above.
What are you paying second shooters? What are you getting paid to second shoot? Comment with your location and going rates.