While I am a full time wedding photographer and have plenty of my own weddings, I LOVE second shooting and I do it often! I love it for many different reasons. For me personally, sometimes I love not being the one in charge, ha! I love having the time to get creative and do things that I may not have time to do on one of my wedding days. But most importantly, I love supporting my fellow girl bosses! But while second shooting can be fun, you can’t forget why you are there: to support the lead shooter.
Second shooting on wedding days is a great opportunity to gain more experience in weddings. You get to work in a less-stressful scenario, build your portfolio and watch how other photographers handle themselves on a wedding day. It’s truly an invaluable experience.
If you’re trying to break into wedding photography, the best thing you can do is reach out to photographers you admire and offer to carry bags or to second shoot. And when you get that YES (because you will!) here are 10 tips to be a Rock Star Second Shooter on Wedding Days!
1. Communicate & BE ON TIME. This seems like an obvious one, right? WRONG. You’d be surprised how many second shooters I’ve had that have been late. Traffic happens, life happens, I get it, but I still do not think it’s a valid excuse. You should be PLANNING FOR TRAFFIC. If that means you arrive 45 minutes early, well, that’s better than being late. And be sure to communicate with your lead photographer. Nothing eases the photographer’s mind more at the start of a wedding day than knowing that the second shooter is on his or her way and is set to arrive ahead of schedule. Extra pro tip: shoot them a morning text and let them know how excited you are to shoot with them that day!
2. Follow Instructions. For me personally, I send all my second shooters (even the ones that have shot with me time and time again!) an email with instructions on how I want them to shoot on the wedding day. I want them, to the best of their capabilities, to shoot similar to how I shoot. Take the time to read what your lead shooter sends you, and then try your best to follow her instructions. If you have questions, don’t be afraid to ask! Extra pro tip: if your lead shooter doesn’t send you anything, reach out to them and ask what all they are expecting from you so you don’t go in blind!
3. Dress Appropriately. This may sound like another obvious one, but unfortunately, it’s not! I’ve heard stories of second shooters showing up in jeans and flip flops, or short spaghetti-strapped dresses. That’s just not appropriate. You can always ask your lead photographer but a good rule of thumb is: dress like a guest! Extra pro tip: flats are life on a wedding day.
4. Smile… a lot. You are representing someone else’s business. They are trusting you to treat their clients (and all guests) with kindness, respect, common curiosity.. you know, how you would want to be treated. Something as simple as smiling can really make people feel more at ease and truly enjoy their experience more! If we look hot, unhappy, tired, or annoyed, it can be a poor reflection on us. Extra pro tip: go out of your way to be extra kind to guests.
Second shooters make amazing light test models too!!
5. Take initiative and be a Partner. Wedding days can be stressful and a second shooter can really make the day so much better for a lead photographer. Take initiative through out the day. Carry bags. Fluff the brides dress during portraits. Help clean up the getting ready room before pictures start. Fix hair. Offer to call out the names for family formals. Ask if she needs some water. Never stop being helpful. Extra pro tip: Do all of this without the lead photographer having to ask!
Ashley fluffed dresses.. IN THE RAIN for me! <3
Brianna literally took her shoes off and gave them to the bride so her shoes wouldn’t get dirty during portraits. Oh, and she was holding my heavy lens and the brides bouquet too! #secondshootergoals
6. Be Present. Being present as a second shooter means: making sure you aren’t in the lead photographers way. It means know what you’re supposed to be shooting at all times. It means noticing the lead is shooting a lot of verticals, so you start shooting more horizontals. Being present means noticing the lead is shooting straight on, so you move to find a different angle, perhaps from the side. Look for ways to grab shots that compliment the lead photographer’s shots. Extra pro tip: ask the photographer what lens he/she wants you to shoot with at different points throughout the day.
7. Leave your business at the door. Again, you are representing someone else’s business, not your own. Do not hand out your business cards. Do not talk about your business. I know how fun it is to talk about your business, but it’s not the time or place to do so while you are second shooting for another photographer. Extra pro tip: if someone asks you for a card, simply say “I am second shooting with XXX, I’ll go grab a card from her”… with a smile of course!
8. You are not a guest. I love that I build true friendships with my brides, and I imagine many photographers do. However, great client relationships and all, we are not guests. We are hired vendors. We do not need to be seen on our phones all the time, or cutting up the dance floor, or stuffing our faces with guest favors. Extra pro tip: you can totally still have fun.
9. Understand Photo Usage. Every photographer will have different things they allow you to do with the images you capture through out the wedding day. This is something you NEED to communicate with the lead photographer about before you do anything with the images. Extra pro tip: don’t tag the client in the images. They aren’t your client.
10. Have fun! Despite all these tips that can be perceived as rules, they truly are just tips to be a rockstar second shooter! Second shooting is supposed to be fun and enjoyable, so make sure you have FUN!! Extra pro tip: take some super fun behind the scene images of your lead, she’ll love it!!
I hope these tips help you become a Rockstar second shooter!! Now go off and message that photographer you admire because the answer may just be YES!!