Being a second shooter for a professional wedding photographer is a wonderful way to learn the business, gain experience, but it’s also a huge responsibility. In most cases photographers looking to hire are bringing someone else aboard because they find more coverage is needed than they are able to provide solo. For me, finding and working with the right person as a second shooter is key element to making sure the shoot is successful and that goes beyond just being a talented photographer.
The number one thing we’re looking for in a second is someone that can represent our brand. That includes, but is not limited to, presenting themselves professionally, delivering great customer service, and having a ready to help attitude. We hire photographers who understand that amazing service is the basis of our business. I believe there are an incredible amount of talented shooters out there, and providing a positive and supportive service is a great way to stand out.
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For a second shooter, there are things that extend beyond customer service. Creating images that are in focus, exposed correctly, and being creative is the basis of a second photographer’s job. For my business, the lead photographer is generally directing the couple and the second photographer walks around getting different angles.
But Also Be Reliable
For me, I like to get the safe shots I know my couple is expecting before experimenting. I encourage taking risks but ask that our second photographers don’t try something they’ve never done before until they’ve also shot some well exposed and composed images. So for second shooters making sure what you photograph is in the general style of the lead photographer shows that you are there to support them and do not have your own agenda.
Now, just because you’re not the lead photographer doesn’t mean you don’t have the best angle. Sometimes being forced to look for angles can push you creatively and make for some exceptional work.
Leading up to the wedding it is vital to communicate to the lead photographer you work with any questions that you may have . Photographers have often had months of communication with their couple. They’ll have a great grasp on their vision for the day and will be able to share important information and ideally helpful information about the couple. For my second shooters, I provide the timeline, give a rundown of family dynamics, and discuss the basic types of images that the couple is most interested in. I hire people we trust and it’s important to us that they feel comfortable throughout the day.
Don’t Steal the Spotlight
Another factor you may not consider is social media. For example, we prefer that our second photographers do not post on social media so that there is no confusion over who was hired to shoot the wedding. If you are pursing your own wedding photography business and want to use your photos on your blog, we ask that you do not post them until we have had the chance to share them.
A good tip whenever posting images shot for another photographer, is to make sure that you credit them in some way. For us, our seconds would write something like, “…love this image I shot for Angela & Evan Photography today!” With social media driving business for many photographers that acknowledgement will reflect well on you and make you more likely to be rehired.
We prefer to use the same second shooters when we can. What makes us rehire photographers is their ability to deliver consistent well exposed images that are creatively composed while representing our brand and supporting our business. We love to work with people who make the day enjoyable for all. Our second shooters have helped us grow our business and we are thankful to have their support.
Working as a second photographer is one of the most rewarding ways to learn about the wedding industry. Reaching out to photographers that you admire and would like to shoot for is a great start. A successful business does not happen overnight and it is important to remember that you’re representing a brand that has taken some people many years to build. If you appreciate the reputation a business has, admire their images, and want to learn more, you may want to consider second shooting for them. These relationships can be beneficial for everyone and can help you as you establish yourself in the industry.
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