All Things Associate Photography

Associate Photography

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The how and why of becoming an associate photographer with Sarah Kate Photography

Before you dive into this blog post, I want it to feel like we’re sitting at your favorite coffee shop, sipping on warm lattes while talking about partnering together in photography to bring dreams to life.  So… are you comfortable? Do you have your favorite mug filled with a mocha latte or peppermint tea? Are all of your children getting along quietly? Is the fireplace roaring?  Ok – wait, this isn’t a Hallmark Movie.  Scratch the quiet children and the roaring fire part.  Let’s get comfy and dive into the world of associate photography. 

What is an associate photographer? 

An associate photographer is a photographer who works under the lead photographer’s brand as an independent contractor.  An associate photographs sessions on behalf of another experienced photographer, but the images are edited by the head photographer so that the aesthetic and color editing style of the brand remain cohesive. If an experienced photographer is unavailable for a shoot but the client loves the look of the head photographer’s work, he or she may hire an associate photographer to shoot the session on their behalf. 

Why would I want to be an associate photographer with you? 

There are a lot of reasons you might consider becoming an associate.  Let’s talk through some of them and give you clarity on the benefits of partnering with an experienced photographer.  

Top 5 Reasons

Mentoring And Education Without The Investment 

Typically, the head photographer will have you shadow them before sending you to your own associate session.  Relational education with a professional is irreplaceable and cannot be learned to the same extent from a blog post or a YouTube tutorial.  Use this time to really observe and pay attention to how the photographer styles, directs, poses, and shoots the clients to form a wonderful client experience.  

In 2021, I personally spent nearly $7,500 in continuing education that I will freely share with you when and if you decide to partner with me to become an associate photographer. 

More Fun, Less Work

Let’s be honest: The best part of being a photographer is actually forming relationships with clients while photographing them. That is exactly what you’d be doing!  As an associate photographer, you are responsible for shooting the session and handing over the memory cards.  You get to take a back seat to scheduling, contracts, emails, styling, culling, and editing.  This is an amazing opportunity to build your portfolio without all the administrative work.  And a special perk: you can keep and edit your favorite shots from the session for your own portfolio and let the head photographer do the rest! 

Learn The Best Kept Secrets 

Before I had my own editing and shooting style, I would look at other photographers’ work and think “How on earth did they get that shot?”. Since the main goal of an associate photographer is to create a similar product to the head photographer, I will share all of my shooting, posing, and styling secrets with you!  I want our clients to have an unforgettable experience and walk away with high-quality images that align with the aesthetic and brand I have spent so many years perfecting. 

Level Up Your Own Client Experience

Lead photographers don’t become successful because their business plan is mapped on a giant wall in their office.  Many photography businesses are run on a wonderful balance of professionalism while being personal and relational.  Working as an associate gives you a behind-the-scenes look at how I run my business.  You can take notes for your own business plan and launch into your own dreams.  I believe there is room for everyone to grow in their own way!

Build Your Portfolio 

As an associate photographer, your calendar will be more full, you will have access to clients you otherwise wouldn’t, and you’ll likely discover new go-to spots for the perfect golden-hour sessions.  You will be able to use the photos you capture for your own website, social media, and portfolio.  (Rules and restrictions for personal use of galleries will be discussed.) 

I could keep going on about all of the benefits of joining a photography team as an associate, but the coffee in my mug is empty and I’m sure a checklist or a child is calling your name.  If you are interested in learning more about partnering as an associate, feel free to email me at  I would love to answer any questions you have, set up a quick phone call, or an actual coffee date to talk about becoming an associate and hearing about your dreams and visions as a photographer yourself.  

Happy 2022 – let’s make dreams happen this year. 

– SK 

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