ShootWith.Me Review | Photographer’s Marketplace for Finding Work and Hiring a Qualified Team
As a wedding and portrait photographer there is no easy way to find, hire and manage additional help for jobs. Whether it’s hiring a second shooter for an upcoming wedding, an assistant to help with a portrait session, or a lead shooter to cover you when you’re sick, finding reliable help can be one of the most stressful parts of running a successful company. This regular pain point is what ShootWith.Me aims to solve. Their system provides a streamlined way to find and hire quality, local, available, and reliable help for your jobs. In this ShootWith.Me review, we’ll look at the pros and cons to show why we think this platform truly has the potential to change the way we operate our businesses.
Who or What Is ShootWith.Me?
For context, ShootWith.Me was created by two wedding photographers in the greater Philadelphia area who were tired of the hassle of finding and hiring help for their jobs. Nathan Desch, one of the founders, recalls, “I remember one busy fall season where every other post on my Facebook feed was from photographers looking for second shooters for their upcoming dates. In the comments, one person would share their instagram info, another would share their website, several people would be 400+ miles away and want the photographer to fly them in. It was a total disaster.”
The reality is that when photographers need to hire help for an upcoming job, they want to be able to compare apples to apples and find someone who is local and in alignment with what they’re looking for. Co-Founder Mike Morby remembers, “I would post needs on Facebook and it would take days to filter through the responses. With ShootWith.Me I create a job, see who is available, and have the need filled within a few hours, sometimes within a few minutes.”
Who Is ShootWith.Me For?
If you’ve ever posted a job on Facebook, only to have one or two people out of forty respondents be a good fit, then this review of ShootWith.Me is for you. Oh, by the way, if you ever have weekends without a wedding, and want to fill the gaps in your schedule, you’ll be especially interested in what we have to share in this review also.
In just a moment, we’re going to look at the pros and cons of ShootWith.Me to help you determine whether or not it’s a good fit for your studio and goals. Before we dive in though, it’s probably helpful for you to have a 30,000’ view of how the platform works so that you understand the differences between it and traditional job boards that you may be used to.
How Does ShootWith.Me Work?
ShootWith.Me is a marketplace platform where those who want to get hired create a profile, upload a portfolio, write a bio, add gear, skills, and other helpful info to give hiring photographers a good representation of who they are. From there, they add their availability and working radius. They also set their own rate for the different roles they want to get job offers for (more on this later).
Creating a Job Listing
When a photographer has a hiring need, they create a job and enter the details for what they’re looking for. They then see everyone who is local, available and in alignment with their job needs. They can subsequently view profiles of different users, see their portfolios, read reviews from other photographers who have worked with them and more. Those who are a good fit for their job, they can add them to the “Job Queue”. Think of it like a master list of everyone you’d be comfortable hiring.
Setting Up a “Job Queue”
Once the photographer has a solid list of candidates, they put them in the order that they want, set a response time, and then start their job queue. The offer goes out to the person at the top of the queue and they have a certain amount of time to accept or decline the job. If they decline or run out of time, the offer goes to the next person in the queue. When someone accepts the job, you get a notification and can continue communicating the details through the app or via email/sms.
After the job, both parties review each other. “Having reviews be a part of the platform from the start was non-negotiable for us. We needed a way to bring accountability to this side of the industry. We heard stories from far too many photographers about times where they hired someone, or were hired themselves, where the other party acted in a completely unprofessional way. When you know you’re being reviewed by the person you work with, you’re going to bring your A-Game every time”, says Desch.
We cannot get into all of the other features and tools of ShootWith.Me now, but if you’re curious, we recommend signing up for a free trial.
Pros and Cons
I want to take the next bit of time to share some Pros and Cons about ShootWith.Me so that you can determine whether it’s a good fit for you. Of course, this is just one person’s opinion. You may find that one of the things I like about ShootWith.Me is a turn-off for you, or something that I consider a Con is actually a good thing in your book. Let’s begin!
Pros of ShootWith.me
Easy Access to Reviews & Responses with Minimal Distractions
To start, I love that there’s finally a company that has a laser focus on changing the way our industry finds and hires help for our jobs. Posting in Facebook groups can be effective at times, but you have no way to read reviews of others who have worked with them. You also get sucked into distractions every time you check the responses of those who comment. ShootWith.Me provides structure and a solid workflow to hire and manage quality talent.
I love that I can both hire help for my own jobs and use the platform to fill the gaps of my schedule. Look, no matter how long you’ve been shooting, you’re bound to have seasons where bookings aren’t quite as high and you need to pick up some extra work. ShootWith.Me has a “value-based” trial which means you can create your profile, make yourself available and get job offers without needing to pay. You only become a paid user when you’re ready to accept your first booking request. The subscription prices are set up so that, on average, one booking covers two years of your subscription. Co-founder Mike Morby mentioned that ShootWith.Me is launching an update soon that allows new users to accept their first job without needing to become a paid user. “We know how much value this platform brings photographers, but also know that for many people, it’s new and that getting the full experience prior to paying can give them confidence that this is legit”. The ability to make hundreds of dollars off of ShootWith.Me before committing is pretty solid.
Reviews from Other Photographers for Hired Help
I love that I can read reviews from other photographers who have worked with people I don’t know. Anyone can luck themselves into a decent portfolio of images, so it can be hard to vet people without reading feedback from others. Real talk, the reviews on ShootWith.Me alone make me want to use ShootWith.Me exclusively to hire help because I no longer need to cross my fingers and hope that someone’s full body of work is at the same quality as their portfolio. I also need to know that someone is helpful, professional, and will represent my studio well- Reviews accomplish this.
Opportunities for All Levels
I love that ShootWith.Me serves the entire ecosystem of photographers. It doesn’t matter if you’re a seasoned pro and are only looking to hire help, or you’re an entry-level photographer who wants to build relationships by assisting- ShootWith.Me is going to be a great asset for you.
I love that the founders of ShootWith.Me are constantly working to improve the platform. Morby says, “I have a multi-photographer studio and hire a lot of assistants and second shooters, while Nathan uses ShootWith.Me to get hired and find help for his own jobs. When we’re working to find solutions to problems our users face, I typically represent the best interests of hiring photographers and Nathan represents those who want to get hired. We don’t move forward with new ideas unless it serves both sides of the marketplace well. Both sides need to feel that the tools and features we launch are a win for their goals.”
New Partnerships and Tools to Look Forward to
I love that the ShootWith.Me roadmap looks amazing. When I asked Nathan about what was in the pipeline, he shared some items they’re keeping close to their chest for now but said, “We’re partnering with some big names in the industry to onboard large networks of photographers to get whole communities to begin using the platform at once. We’re also going to be expanding ShootWith.Me to serve videographers soon. The tools and features we already have allow users to get a ton of value, but we’re committed to refining the process to make it even better.”
I love that for photographers who want to build momentum and get hired fast, they can get “certified” on ShootWith.Me. ShootWith.Me has three courses (one for each role type) and assessments to validate the user’s proficiency of the content. Once a user passes, they get a certification badge on their profile that gives other photographers confidence in hiring them. The course content is meant to be baseline info that users need to know in order to fulfill the duties of working for others. If you don’t have any reviews on ShootWith.Me, the certifications seem like a great way to gain an edge on getting job offers.
ShootWith.Me and SLR Lounge teamed up to curate the content for the Lead Shooter Certification. If you want to get Lead Shooter Certified, first you’ll need to sign up for a lead shooter profile. Then, from your dashboard, click the button that says “Get Lead Shooter Certified.” Enter code SLRL2023 to get 25% off!
Cons of ShootWith.me
And now for some cons, although most are mild and can be overcome pretty quickly.
Have to Learn to Use a New Tool
I don’t love that it’s one more thing I have to learn how to do. The industry is always evolving and helpful tools pop up all of the time. If you’re a photographer who only hires help for your jobs once or twice a year, and you have a go-to person for it who is always available, learning the workflow of ShootWith.Me may not be the highest leverage task for you even though it’s not that complicated. One thing worth pointing out though is that it’s free to find and hire help – No need to worry about paying for it, regardless of the number of people you hire.
Not All of My Network Is Connected
I hate, yes, I said hate, that my entire network of photographers isn’t using ShootWith.Me. I have a handful of photographer friends who I’ve worked with in the past. Several of them are not on ShootWith.Me at the moment, so if I want to hire them, I have to send them a text to spell out the details manually. Until they join ShootWith.Me, it can be kind of annoying to manage some of my jobs on ShootWith.Me and some through Google Calendar and other tools. As they start using the platform though, this will become a non-issue.
Occasional Issues with Pay & Expectations from Community of Users
I really don’t like that some users have ridiculous hourly rates. Listen, I get it, some people have an inflated view of what they’re worth, but I did a second shooter search recently for an upcoming job and someone who looked very entry-level-ish was wanting $125/hour to second shoot. There were a ton of others who were available with reasonable rates, but I guess with a marketplace platform, some people are going to have unrealistic expectations. Founder, Nathan Desch, spoke to this, “We preach to users that they need to have value-rate alignment. This means, the value they deliver needs to be equal to, or greater than, the rate they charge. If there isn’t alignment here, you might get hired once, but it’s unlikely that photographer will hire you again. Repeat hiring is what has led many users to making over $30,000 in the last couple of years by second or lead shooting for others on ShootWith.Me.”
No “Job” Postings
When we first started, there were wedding photographer forums and job posting boards, but none of them allowed users to passively get booking offers from others. You had to constantly hustle and apply to jobs. When I started using ShootWith.Me, I immediately searched the dashboard for a list of jobs people posted to see if any were a good fit. I soon realized that isn’t how the platform works. There are no “job postings” because that is one of the problems ShootWith.Me is solving. Job postings create a lot of extra work for hiring photographers because they have to slowly weed through the bad to find the good- whereas on ShootWith.Me, they can do all of that vetting in a matter of minutes and then get back to more high leverage tasks for their business.
Not All Users (Community Members) Are Up-to-Date
It can be annoying that there are still some users who don’t quite understand how to use ShootWith.Me yet. It seems as if some people created a profile at some point and then forgot about it. When they get offers, they either aren’t available or they don’t respond to the booking request. If there are a bunch of people in the job queue, this isn’t a major issue, but if it’s a really popular date and there already aren’t a ton of people available, this can be a bit annoying. My hope is that over time, people will catch on and realize that when they get booking requests, they’re legit. New platforms take time to build momentum sometimes because they require a network of users to adopt it in order for everyone to get value. It’s kind of like Uber. When it first launched, you may have had to wait 30 minutes for a driver to be available. But as time went on and more people started using it, more drivers signed up and it became a much more efficient tool.
While I can’t say that I love paying for another subscription, I do love that ShootWith.Me offers a “value-based” trial. I hadn’t really heard about this before, but when I reached out to Nathan for comment, he said the following:
“Our goal in building this solution was to give our users incredible value and only charge them once they’re ready to accept a job offer. Photographers get total access to the platform for as long as they’d like and don’t need to worry about becoming a paid user until they want to accept a job offer. They’ll be able to see all of the info and details when the offer comes through. The only thing hidden is the studio info for who is offering the job. When you get a job offer, you are the only one who is getting it. It’s not a massive “post” where you’re still going to be vetted afterwards. Hit “Accept”, and the job is yours. Typically, one job covers the cost of the subscription for two years.”
If you build some momentum and earn reviews, it seems like this is a no-brainer just on the time savings alone. If your goal is only to hire help though, you can do that completely for free.
In summary, I am incredibly excited about the future of this platform because it’s one of those things that only gets better as more people use it. Also, I truly believe that the founders understand the problems photographers face when hiring help and filling the gaps of their schedule, and they’re committed to solving them. As this ShootWith.Me review has shown, it isn’t a perfect solution yet, but it sure beats posting jobs on Facebook. One tip I have if you’re wanting to give it a shot: Once your profile is complete, invite your immediate network to join also. You can set them as favorites so that they’re easier to hire in the future. Having a few familiar faces appear in your search results can be really helpful for your first few jobs and may make all the difference in this becoming a regular tool in your workflow.