how to be a second shooter

5 Tips On How To Be An Amazing Second Shooter

5 Tips On How To Be An Amazing Second Shooter

Second shooting is an amazing way to venture into the wedding photography world. It allows you to practice your skills while also networking with local photographers and vendors. The relationship you build while second shooting can result in lasting gigs with your lead photographers, and hopefully even referrals! To ensure you impress your lead photographer and have them coming back to you for future work, below are some tips to give you a leg up!

Before the wedding

1. Prepare

There are a few things you can do to impress your lead shooter and set yourself up for success. Prior to the wedding day, ask your lead shooter which photos they’d like you to focus on- this will usually include the Groom details & getting ready in addition to other parts of the day.

Then ask for a sample gallery of theirs so you can see how your lead likes to have these photos taken. Don’t be afraid to ask questions!

Other things to ask your lead:

– Are there any other special things about the wedding that you should be aware of that may not have already been mentioned, such as family issues, special details, or backstory on the couple?

-Do you have a preference as to which lenses you’d like me to use?

-Do you have a preference on how I dress? (Some leads may want you to come dressed business professional, while others are more laid back. Remember you are representing their brand, so when in doubt, dress professionally!)

-If I am shooting cocktail hour solo, what sort of images would you like? (Your lead may send you to capture the guests at cocktail hour while they shot Family Formals. Some leads prefer more candid photos, while others want posed, looking at the camera shots of the guests)

-How would you like me to share the images with you?

-How will I receive my payment from you?

-Are there any notes about parking or the venues you’d like me to know?

-Would you like to meet up prior to sync our camera clocks?

– If you have a dietary restriction, now would be a good time to give your lead a heads up as well so they can tell the coordinator who is organizing vendor meals. Don’t wait till the day of the wedding to mention this!

Don’t forget to print out the timeline and family formal list, as well as saving a photo image copy to your phone in case that paper gets lost during the day.

During the Wedding

2. Communicate, communicate, communicate

Your lead has a lot to worry and think about on their clients wedding day. The last thing they want added to their plate is worrying about their second shooter. So its always best to be super communicative with your lead throughout the day! Text your lead when you are on your way to the first venue of the day (be sure to leave early to accommodate for parking & traffic!), when you arrive, and if and when you leave for the next venue. Always reach out if you have questions.

3. Add variety

Your lead usually does NOT want you to capture the same shots as them. You are there to add variety to the client’s gallery and you aid your lead in anything they need. Be sure to move around during times when both you and your lead are shooting such as the ceremony, couple portraits, and the reception. If your lead if focusing close to the couple, walk back and capture a wide shot. If your lead is shooting straight on, try a side angle. When in doubt, focus on any smaller details your lead may miss. Do be afraid to ask “What would you like me to focus on during the ceremony, Family Portraits, Couple Portraits, Bridal Party, and the Reception?” Sometimes your lead may not want you to shoot at all and instead just help coordinate, such as during the Family Formals, and that’s ok!

4. Keep your lead hydrated & fed!

As a lead photographer, your main focus of the day is capturing your couple. It’s very common to forget to eat and stay hydrated throughout the day! It’s so helpful to have a second shooter who is anticipating their leads needs and offers to fetch water and check in about vendor meals.

When there is a good lull in the day, find the venue water station and check in with the coordinator overseeing meal service. When meal time comes, offer to cover the reception first while your lead grabs a quick bite to eat, and then switch out. Bonus tips: never drink alcohol at a wedding unless your lead specially gives you permission. If you want to be even more thoughtful, offer your lead some mints after dinner!

After the Wedding

5. Respect their sharing and crediting rules

Photographers have a wide variety of wishes for how they may or may not want their seconds to share photos from that wedding day. Be sure to ask your lead exactly how and when you are allowed to share these photos. Nothing is worse than the Bride seeing a sneak peek from the wedding day from the second shooter first. If the lead wants you to wait 30 days before sharing, set a reminder on your calendar and wait it out. Also be sure to ask how your lead wants to be credited! Most will want you to mention “Second Shot for @yourleadsprofile” in your social media captions.

Want more? Here’s 6 more bonus tips!

  • Ensure you never hand out your own biz card. Instead ask your lead for one of theirs to keep in your pocket in case someone asks!
  • Ask your lead if they’d like you to take any “Behind The Scenes” photos of them working.
  • Make sure you aren’t in the background of your lead’s photo! This happens most often during the ceremony if you are both covering opposite sides.
  • Keep an eye out for the little things. If the bride’s dressed needs to be fluffed for a photo, or the groom’s boutonnière is crooked, ask your lead if you can jump in at fix it before they take the shot.
  • Help the lead stay on schedule. Wearing a watch and letting your lead know when the next item on the timeline is coming up can be super helpful.
  • Ask for feedback! If you’d like to shoot with this lead again, ask them how you can improve to be a better assistant and shooter to them.

There you have it! These tips will help you rock that second shooter wedding and leave a lasting positive impression on your lead shooter. Want to see more wedding photographer tips? Click here to explore!