How to be a Great Second Shooter

I’ve been told (by more than one person) that I’m a perfectionist. I don’t care anymore, I’m owning it. I do not tolerate small things that can be simply fixed. One example; plastic hangers. I will never again shoot a wedding dress on a plastic hangar. Horrible and it looks cheap! I have “stunt” hangers with me at all times.

If I have a choice, I don’t want to hire an ok second shooter, I want to hire a GREAT second shooter! Here’s how to be one:

This is my friend, Abby. She rocks my socks off and I’ve second shot with a few times this year. I hope she doesn’t kill me for posting this.

Anticipate. Even if you don’t have the best equipment, you should know the flow of a wedding day. Anticipate what will happen next and better yet, make sure you have a day of schedule from the primary shooter. Don’t rely on the primary shooter to tell you what to do every minute of the day. Look for different angles, anticipate reactions to jokes, laughs, candid moments. Don’t ever shoot directly in front or behind the primary photographer. That makes me crazy! Get the side angle or a funny moment happening behind the scenes. See the images below for more details on this.

Expect to carry things and play gofer. Sorry, but that’s your job. I have a habit of leaving stuff in random places. I usually ask my second shooter to retrieve these things. I’m absent minded and have a lot going on in my head.

It’s not your show. As a second shooter, you are an extension of the primary photographer’s business. NEVER, under any circumstances should you be passing out your own business card, facebook site, phone number, etc.. I will fire someone on the spot for this.

Have Class. I hope this goes without saying but you need to dress formally for a wedding. Dress pants or skirt, dress shirt (tie for guys) and comfortable shoes. For the love of GOD, don’t forget or call the bride and groom by the wrong names. Don’t be winy. My feet are sore too. Don’t talk through a church ceremony. Be respectful, don’t swear, be quiet and please don’t talk my ear off when I’m trying to set up a ring shot.

Style. My photographic style is natural and candid. No crooked angles (although I admit to being guilty to this in the past, ah youth.. haha!) no textured editing or over/under saturated effects. I like things clean and crisp. Look at the website for your primary photographer and get a feel for their style ahead of time.

Ok, by now you probably think I’m a total b**ch and never want to work with me. I’m just a perfectionist, remember!

Here are my current policy’s for second shooters…

You can shoot RAW on your own cards and I will download the images to my external hard drive. You can edit the images for your own use but I don’t require it. I edit everything for the bride and groom. I also ask that you wait to blog the images after I do. This way, the bride and groom are not confused as to why their images are on a different photographers site. I think it also goes back to the element of class as well.

I will pay extra for mileage or overnight stays for out of town gigs. Usually I like to drive together so we have time to chat and save gas.

Anticipate. The bouquet toss is tricky. I never know which way the flowers will fly. I wrangled my way through some pretty serious women to get this shot. The primary photographer shot the bride’s toss. But I kept shooting the candid moments after.

Style. This image the bride asked us to shoot of her grandpa’s pocket watch. She told us early in the day and we honestly forgot until later. We couldn’t find grandpa and finally remembered later in the night. I had imagined this shot outside with natural light. But things don’t always go your way. As he was holding the pocket watch he told me about it. Then he gave it to me to shoot alone. I shot the watch by itself but found the watch in his hands was more meaningful. It matched the primary shooters style of natural and timeless.


**Lastly, I would love to be able to respond to all the requests I receive regarding internships and second shooting opportunities and I wish I could hire everyone! However, please be patient. I still have a list of photographers I’d like to work with too. I don’t have enough weddings to be able to hire everyone (hopefully I will soon). I mean no offense when I have to turn someone down, please don’t take it personally. **

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