How to be a Good Second Shooter
Being a second shooter on a couples wedding day is a great honor! Before I shot any weddings on my own I took the conscience leap and through it out to a few local photographers that I would love to serve and second shoot under them. One of them stuck and I am forever grateful for all the knowledge it brought of a wedding day. I still enjoy second shooting weddings as I get to show up, do the artistic side that I love with and leave without any post-work.
Here is a quick list of signs that you're ready to second shoot.
1. You know to use basic camera settings.
2. You know how to use on and off camera flash.
3. You love the world of weddings and wish love to learn the ins-and-outs of a wedding day under a local photographer.
4. You love, love.
5. You do not look at others weddings as portfolio builders.
I truly believe that being a second shooter is an incredible experience. I also believe that is a great undertaking and that one must acknowledge the reason they are there- to serve the hired photographer. This is so important because it is not about growing your own portfolio, standing an inch from the photographer to get the couple looking at you, or getting your name out there. It is about serving the main photographer who was hired to serve a couple and capture their wedding day! That, y'all, is a great task and honor.
I was fortunate to have a photographer that allowed me use the images to create a portfolio in the beginning but others I have shot for take all the images and some I have never even seen. If you are truly seeking to serve the photographer then your ability to use images should not be the main focus point. You are being hired by the photographer, who was hired by the client. Always make sure to ask before the wedding day about pay and use of images. I have all my second shooters sign a second shooter contract that lays out the terms of work, pay, what's expected and what happens to the images after. This way there is no confusion on the wedding day of after.
Now that we have established where the heart of a great second shooter comes from here are a few tips.
1. Shooting with the same gear allows for greater consistency. So do not feel let down if a main photographer moves on to a person that shoots with their same gear.
2. Time Stamp! The main photographer may forget to grab a time stamp that would you are on the same day, hour, minute and second and make their life a million times easier. You should definitely suggest it before you begin shooting and know how to get there fast in your camera settings.
3. Back of Camera Check. After you get the exposure and composition where you like it show the main photographer. Normally I have suggestions that will make the second's images more in line with mine straight-out-of-camera.
4. If You See Into My Lens It Sees You. This is a little obvious but with so much going on it seems necessary to throw it on the list that if you are standing exactly opposite or in that general area of the main photographer you are in the shot!
4. Watch. See where the first shooter is standing in relation to the light, subjects, and what lenses their using. Then do something a little different! I normally suggest what lenses my second should be using and where I would love for them to capture from. SPOILER - it's never right next to me and always a different lens! This gives the photographer variations and more artistic choices. Talking about artistic though ** NO CAMERA TILT** had to get that out there.
5. Listen. It really stinks when something gets left in the vehicle and you're the one running out to get it but put a smile on and get it done! That is your purpose - to serve. Serving is more fun when it's capturing images but sometimes serving means doing the dirty work that the main photographer cannot leave the client to do.
6. Always be ready to fluff the dress and fix hair! This may seem minuscule but there is so much going on behind the lens of a wedding day photographer it can be easy to overlook. Be ready to get in, fluff, and run out! Also, note that there are images that I love the imperfections, wind-blowing, and dress laying naturally.
7. Behind-the-Scenes. My seconds should be ready to do a little Instagram stories of behind-the-scenes and make sure to grab shots of the lead photographer working. If you are unsure if the photographer would like that, ask, it cannot hurt.
8. My last and favorite tip is to smile and soak it in. Know this an amazing honor and that you're assisting in capturing someones wedding day.
There you have it, my quick tips for being a successful and useful second for the main photographer. I will keep adding to the list as I think of more tips and always love to hear any ideas?!
Want to read my favorite tips for brides setting their budgets, jump here!