I love having a team + community to lean on in this industry. I believe having a bomb second shooter takes practice + training and is a huge responsibility. Having a trustworthy + reliable second allows the main photographer to work at their highest level & produce their best work. Over the years, I have worked with dozens of second shooters, but now I only work + hire the best of the best. Seriously. The people I have on my team I trust with my entire heart. I know if an act of God happened and I was unable to photograph the wedding or event, that my second shooter has my back & would photograph it just as, or better than I would. In order to get & give this level of work + trust, I am sharing my tips & thoughts on how to be a bomb second shooter.
MOVE AROUND: If you are second shooting and you find yourself standing next to the main photographer the entire day, you are doing it wrong (in my opinion) The point of a second shooter is to have an extra set of hands, eyes + creativity to capture moments the main photog isn’t there for (like when the bride sees + smells her flowers for the first time or when grams sneaks in for a quick hug) or to capture the same scene differently. For example: If you both are photographing the couple, get all the side angles + cropped detail shots (groom’s hand around bride's waist showing off his ring, side laughs, hand shots, etc.) 10/10 if you capture a similar image as the main photographer, they are going to use their image over yours - plain and simple. So, stand out. Think outside the box + get creative with your shots. Being a second shooter is one of my FAVORITE things to do because there is no pressure on getting ‘the shots’ and more time for my creative juices to flow.
Be the best dress- fluffer, shot-list-caller, and hair-fixer that ever lived: But for real it helps SO much to have someone fixing the bride’s dress, veil, and hair instead of the main photographer running back and forth in between shots. The more you second shoot, the more little things will stand out and become second nature for you to adjust. When I am second shooting (and vice versa) It’s almost like me and the other photog have ESP because we don't even have to speak before the other is adjusting and fixing what needs to done. This applies to family shot lists too! (This is when my sassy britches come on if I am second shooting) My second shooters are in control of calling out the family names + getting the next people on deck + and sometimes even hunting down uncle Jo who didn't get the memo to stay for photos. Having a second photographer helps this entire process run so smooth and keeps us on time.
Communicate: There are a lot of specifics to work out before, during and after the wedding as to how photographers handle working with second shooters. Here are some things to think about discussing so both photographers are on the same page:
what to wear- some weddings are very formal and want vendors in specific colors/pants/etc.
what you are allowed (and not allowed) to do with images you take after the wedding (have a contract for any route you decide to go!)
what to do if situations arise at the wedding (have a game plan and be ready to take action)
how will you be paid (per hour/form of payment, etc.)
go over the timeline BEFORE the wedding to confirm addresses/times if photographers separate during the day.
Be a (selfless) team player: When you are second shooting for someone, you are representing them and their business. You are never representing yourself or your own personal business. This means putting away pride + doing exactly what is asked of you - even if that means grabbing images that aren't always the most exciting.
SMILE (: May sound like a no brainer but believe it or not, guests look at the photographers more often than you think and especially when they are least expecting it -so smile! Ain't nobody got time for a frown. The last thing the bride and groom want to see (or hear!) is that their photographers were frazzled hot messes.
In my biased opinion, being a second shooter is the best job! Having experienced being one and having them, I know how valuable they are + don’t take the job lightly when I have that role. For any photographers starting out, this is a great way to practice & build more knowledge + skills for your craft. If you are already experienced, it’s a wonderful way to make a little extra income that doesn’t require the extra hard work it takes if you were the main photographer.
So there ya have it! My tips + tricks for being a bomb second shooter! Whatcha think? Did this help? Did you know second shooters really have this much responsibility? What would you add to the list?