What is your role as a second shooter (expectations & tips)

What is your role as a second shooter (expectations & tips)

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So you want to grow your skills by working as a second shooter.

That's exciting.  Being a 2nd shooter can be very rewarding!

Heck, even as a wedding photographer I have thought about being a 2nd, instead of lead. The theory in my head is it would allowing me to do what I love most, but not having the heavy burden of clients (just being honest). 

There are so many things a lead photographer must be responsible for during a wedding.  As a 2nd shooter you are there to provide assistance, backup and overall support!


Here are some tips to help you ensure that you are the most efficient backup.

  1. Taking on this role means that you must ensure you are anticipating the needs of the lead photographer 100% of the time.  This may include help fixing hair, dresses, getting people prepared for group shots, etc.
  2. Sign a contract with the lead photographer (link to our favorite contract).  Yep, it's important.  Cover both your butts!
  3. Make sure you bring any equipment you were suppose to.  Make sure you also understand who's memory cards will be used & sync them!
  4. You are not JUST an assistant.  You are there to get the shots too.  This means that prior to the special day, communicate with the lead photographer on what you should be photographed.  Under no circumstance should you be getting the exact shot the lead photographer is getting.  
  5. Always shoot a different angle than the lead, get close ups, get candids, but never get in the way of the photographer.
  6. Do not stand around.  You aren't getting paid to look good.  There is ALWAYS something to do.
  7. Ask the lead photographer in advance some of the things you could do other than shoot, to lighten the load.  Remember, a wedding is taxing on everyone.
  8. Pay attention to everything, especially to the lead photographer.  Try to anticipate what she/he is going to do next and see if there is a way to help it flow smoothly.  If that means you should be getting guest in line for next group shot, do it.  If this means getting lights or reflectors prepared, get it done.
  9. Don't forget to photograph the detail shots that others aren't seeing such as peoples reactions during the ceremony, during speeches, during the first dance etc.
  10. Know your leads shooting style before the special day.  
  11. Be on time, heck be early!
  12. Bring your own snacks & water (just in case)
  13. Do not compete with the lead!  This is not about your portfolio.  It's about being a good 2nd shooter.
  14. Know the timeline IN & OUT!  And carry a copy of it around with you.  Anticipate what's next.
  15. Know what shots the clients want, carry a photo list with you, check them off as they are captured.

And there you have it, our tips for 2nd shooters.  

Remember this is a job.  Do it well and be proud of it.

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