Being a second shooter
So we talked about needing a second shooter, but let's talk about being a second shooter and the reason I separated these lessons so that if you are a second shooter, you can always come back to just this lesson. I think needing a second shooter as a main shooter and being one are kind of very different ways of acting. That being said when I am hired as a second shooter and I have been tons of times. I still am. Um I still treat it as though I'm the main shooter in the sense that the day before I will prep all my gear the same way. I will make sure I know the schedule, make sure all the phone numbers are there, double check the locations, understand my contract with the main shooter. Um And then meet with them, hopefully to talk about how I will get the photos to them. Um What they want me to be shooting, um just, you know, a plan for the day. So treat it as though it's a full blown job, of course, but know that you are a supplemental shooter. So you don't necessarily have to worry abo...
ut all the like, you know, main, main details and make sure that you get all the main shots other than the shots that are told to give them to you, other than the shots that are, uh you know, the main shooter wants you to get. So I will typically bring all the same gear, right? As a second shooter, I will have two bodies. One for backup. I probably won't actually use both bodies while I'm shooting necessarily unless they are having me cover something very specific that they can't actually shoot. So for instance, on the last second shooting gig, I did, I was assigned to shoot all the groomsmen and the groom um himself. So that means I had to do the portraits of the groom and the groomsmen and them getting ready, hanging out and then do um formal photos of the groom and all his uh uh his best man and all his groomsmen, which means at that point, I'm sort of the main shooter for the groom. So I would wanna treat that as though I'm, I'm the main shooter for the entire thing because the main shooter would not, she was not able to be with the groomsmen at all. So at that point, yeah, I need all my gear, right? I need my 24 to 70 to do Candids and the formals. I need my 85 millimeter prime to do portraits. Um And then I'll bring the 70 to 200 because I know I'll probably be shooting the ceremony as well and I wanna stay out of the way of the main shooter. So, in that sense, I was able to really knock out tons of stuff with the groomsmen. There have been other times where I've just been asked to be there for the ceremony. Right. If it's a big ceremony, they just want me to get wide shots, make sure to get shots of the guests, make sure to get um detail shots while they're off making sure that they were shooting the two main uh folks in the ceremony, they clients basically. So it really depends on the type of second shooter you are, but you should be prepared to be a main shooter in the sense that you should be prepared to be able to shoot anything with all the gear that you have. Unless you've talked to the main shooter beforehand. The second thing is to talk about style as a second shooter. You're sort of a supplemental shooter, right? It's not your job to be stylistically independent of the main shooter. This couple has hired the main shooter because they like their photography just like they would have hired you as a main shooter because they like the way you shoot things. So your job as a main shooter is to help the main shooter. I'm sorry, your job is a second shooter is to help the main shooter achieve uh their product or what they're shooting. So that means you have to bend your style to what they're doing. I would recommend doing that. I have heard some horror stories of a main shooter, hiring someone to help them photograph and they'll come in and they'll kind of bully and take over. Like that's not your job as a second shooter. You're there as a hired vendor for the main person. So talking to them about style, about lighting, about exposure, about composition. What they want uh from you is very important because they're gonna have to take your photos and meld them into their gallery and adapt them to what the couple has asked them to do. So having that conversation, making sure that you're there for the main shooter and not for yourself is, is huge. I mean, it's good to get practice for yourself and obviously like do what you're, what you can practice at technically, but keep in mind like you're there for them and they've hired you to do a, a very specific job for them. You're not there necessarily for the client specifically, you're there for the main shooter. I know I keep your eating that, but I think it's something good to remember because you'll get in their good graces in working for them. And I know personally hiring second shooters. If I know that they're doing their job for me, they're composing, they're exposing, they're making sure that whatever they're doing is a representation of the main shooter. Me as a photographer and an artist. That's great. I will absolutely hire them again and not only will I hire them again, but I will know to recommend other weddings to them. That's another step. As a second shooter. You're sort of proving yourself in a sense to the main shooter. To a couple. You, you know, most main shooters will let you use those same photographs in your portfolio, which is great. But then also they'll feel comfortable recommending full weddings to them. Like if I can't do a wedding, I know I'll go to my second shooters in my head first because I've seen them shoot before. I've seen their photography and I know that they will, they will do well. So when you're second shooting, keep in mind that you are sort of not necessarily auditioning, but you're representing yourself as a photographer, um as well who can shoot other weddings and as a second shooter, it's great to get these gigs and get out there and do it because you are uh collecting photos for your portfolio and you're having experience, you're practicing, you are shooting a wedding, whether it's just a second shooter or a main shooter, you are practicing and you're getting experience with real people at a real wedding. And if you're not comfortable taking on your own weddings being a second shooter is a really, really great way to get started and practice and build out your portfolio you can even find some main photographers who may not need second shooters, but it's a good way to be like, hey, I can come on and second shoot for free. Um And hopefully you won't be given a main assignment on that wedding, but it's a really great way to start to build your portfolio without having to go out and get your clients. Just take it seriously and take it seriously as if you are the main shooter. So just to recap really quick, if you are a second shooter, make sure all your gear is cleaned and prepped and you're, you're making this feel like it's a main wedding that you're shooting, go back and talk to the main shooter and make sure that you're photographing for them for their style and you're helping you're not hurting or getting in the way. And then also keep in mind that you are also working for your sons for yourself and representing yourself as a photographer. And hopefully this will lead to more work as a second shooter and down the line, more weddings from a recommended, uh, from a recommendation from the main shooter. So it's a really fun thing to do. Um, I think also, I've known a lot of friends that are full time second shooters, right? They don't find their own weddings, they do a lot of other photography, but they'll just come as a second shooter. It's actually like a pretty good side lucrative um side gig as a photographer. Um especially if you can get in with some main bigger photographers where you don't actually have to get all the clients and do all the business aspect pays less obviously. But the stress levels are a little bit low. Oh, the last thing uh to talk about as being a second shooter is the SD cards and getting your files to the main shooter. Now again, I think I mentioned this in the previous lesson, but having SD cards from the main shooter is great. You can just hand them off at the end of the night and you can go home because typically you're not necessarily needing to be there for the entire time of the wedding or going home, downloading them culling through them yourself, uploading the original files, making sure they're not J PGS, they're the original DNG raw files for your main shooter. Um And then getting rid of all the out of focus ones that you don't like. That's typically more of the thing that I do because I don't want the main shooter to have to deal with my out of focus shots, my missed shots, my test shots. Um I will go home, call through all the and make sure I give them a lot, but make sure that I take out all the ones that I'm not proud of or I wouldn't represent me as a photographer and giving to them. It'll save them time. And it makes you look a little bit better, but keep in mind you gotta do that on the quick. Right. I would typically do that the next day. Um, get it done because they're gonna start editing and you don't wanna hold them up on their delivery for their clients. Um It's just a good look for you to get it done quickly. So that's being a second shooter. Let's go on to the next lesson.