What’s a second shooter, you ask? Then you clearly haven’t taken on any truly grand affairs. You probably haven’t been following our blog for long, since we’ve featured real-life second shooter advice before. But, to clear things up, here’s the lowdown. Big weddings usually require more than a single photographer, which is when the secondary one, also referred to as ‘the second shooter’ steps in. Today’s post brings a list of tips for second shooters, which we believe to be relevant, since this position is usually filled by a beginner. It can be complicated to work in wedding photography as part of a two-person outfit. Photography is usually a solitary line of work. However, with the right mind frame about communication, a dash of chemistry, and our advice, we believe second shooters can truly shine and make the whole experience profitable and enjoyable for everyone involved.
Tip #1 Don’t work with a main who doesn’t trust you.
Our list of tips for second shooters starts even before the actual wedding takes place. Typically, you’ll be able to spot a main photographer who doesn’t trust you (or other photographers in general) right from the get-go. They tend to be generally self-centered, second guess you, or leave you no room to express your own views and always feel the need to micromanage… everything, you included. Suffice it to say, such a working experience will not work. The main photographer’s sole task is to manage the coverage of the wedding. If they’re too busy to snap gorgeous pictures because they’re bossing you around, everyone’s likely to end up feeling miserable and exhausted by the end of your first wedding photographed together.
Tip #2 Do your research.
Whenever you decide to work with someone else on a second shooter position, research the photographer’s approach and study their style. Before heading out to a wedding with them, ask to see a full wedding they’ve shot. Check out their portfolio and make note of details you see recurring in the photos. Study all the images they’ve produced and are available to you. Ask questions, if something strikes you as particularly unusual. It’s important to have a good grasp and strong intuition about a particular main photographer’s style, because your own work is going to have to merge with theirs without any major style breaches.
Tip #3 Ask more questions.
Remember how we advised you to ask questions above? Well, after you’re done doing that, make sure to ask even more questions – and make them as specific as possible. One of our main tips for second shooters is to know what’s expected of you. Some like to grant their second shooters a lot of autonomy, while others really expect them to act as gear-carrying assistants, only shooting every so often. Ask them what you should be focusing on: macros, close-ups and details, or, on the contrary, wide shots? Candid portraits? How open is the main photographer to your own artistic input, vision and ideas?
Tip #4 Help out
That’s what you were hired for, right? Get down to the specifics beforehand. Know where the main photographer expects you to be stationed during the ceremony. Make sure you understand their gear organization system and respect it. Take care of their bags and equipment. Make it a point to know where every lens, grip, lens cap or hot-shoe is during the actual wedding. Lend a hand during group portrait sessions, because this tends to get real hectic real fast and is one of the most complex moments of any wedding photographer’s job. Be in position and take the shots you’re expected to take during the ceremony – never forget that these are unique moments you’re there to capture and you don’t get a do-over. And relax: it’s not as complicated as it sounds.