I really want to start shooting weddings but I don't know where to begin. I've heard photographers talk about a second shooter but I am not really sure what that is or how I can become one! What does a second shooter do? Is it just another name for a photographer's assistant?
If you really want to dive into the crazy world of wedding photography than you definitely want to try to get a few gigs as a second shooter! Second shooting for an already established wedding photographer is a great way to get your feet wet, build up your portfolio and learn a lot about shooting weddings!
Basically, a second shooter is a photographer's assistant/secondary photographer. They are there to help the main photographer with anything they may need, whether that's getting shots from a different perspective, rounding up relatives for family photos, or even fetching a bottle of water for the main photographer. The second shooter is pretty much there to do whatever needs to be done! (Of course, sometimes the main photographer may hire an assistant to tackle some of the other duties, which would free up the second shooter to focus more on shooting... but in most cases, if you're second shooting, be prepared to do whatever is asked of you!) Remember you were hired to make the main photographer's day run smoother, so be prepared to do anything... and do it all with a smile! :)
So, what now? Well, here are some tips that will hopefully get you on the right track!
Get a gig: A good resource for finding second shooting jobs is Facebook. We are members of a ton of photography groups on FB and people are always looking for second shooters. Get out there, join some groups and rub elbows with wedding photographers! Even if you don't start out second shooting, you can always third shoot... or even just volunteer to assist for the day! Be the best assistant you can be and make a good impression.
Communication is key: Once you get the gig, make sure you communicate with the main photographer. You need to know your role! Here's a great list of some questions you might want to ask:
- What exactly is my role? Will you be shooting all day? Just carrying gear? A little of both?
- When and how should I deliver images to you?
- Am I shooting on my cards or yours?
- What will my compensation be? HELLO. Big question right? Well, sometimes second shooters get paid, sometimes they don't. This is something you and the main photographer will have to agree on. Some second shooters are in it just for the experience and are willing to work for free. Some main photographers will let you use your images in lieu of monetary payment and some will let you use your images and throw you some cash. Figuring this out beforehand can definitely save you lots of confusion down the road.
- Can I use my images in my portfolio, on my blog, etc.? Again, this is something you and the main photographer need to agree on first. This can vary from photographer to photographer.
Follow The Rules:
- Take care of the main photographer: Carry bags, grab water, switch out lenses. Remember, on the wedding day, the main photographer has a ton of responsibilities. If there is anything you can do to help, do it!
- Dress and act like a professional. Leave the cargo shorts at home! Be polite to everyone. Don't visit the open bar.
- Never hand out your personal business cards. Just forget about your business entirely... at least for the day. When you are second shooting you are representing the main photographer. Hand out her cards!
- Do NOT shoot over the main photographer's shoulder. You are there to get shots the main photographer isn't already getting. If she is shooting a photo of the bridal party and you are standing right behind her, not only are you getting a shot that she doesn't really need, but you are also probably confusing the bridal party. They won't know where to look! Some eyes will be on her, some on you! Ugh! Nightmare! Instead...
- Shoot from a different angle. Stand to the far right or left of the main photographer (out of frame, of course!) and get a totally different perspective of that bridal party shot! Focus on the line of bouquets or boutonnieres. Focus on the groom's nervous hands or the bride's sweet glances up at her husband. Get the candid shots between poses. Remember, you are there to get what the main photographer isn't getting! Be creative and push yourself!
- DON'T interrupt the main photographer while she's shooting and tell the guests to look at your camera. No, no, no. Unless you have been instructed to by the main photographer to get everyone looking your way, remember all eyes on the main camera!
- DO remind the guests to look at the main photographer. If you are off to the side shooting a different perspective (which, good job, BTW!) and you notice some wandering eyes staring into your lens, simply stop shooting, point to the main photographer and politely say, "All eyes over here, please!"
- Get the details and the candid shots. The main photographer might be busy getting the big shots, but these are also super important! Details and candid shots help tell the story, too! Always keep your eyes open and your camera ready.
- Check your ego at the door. If you are asked to shoot a boring ol' cocktail hour while the main photographer gets to gallivant around with the newlyweds during golden hour, DO it... with a smile. Sometimes second shooting means missing some of the best parts of the wedding day. You might not be asked to capture the bride getting ready or the formal portraits, but you are there to do a job and do it well, even if it isn't the most exciting task. Don't take anything personally. Just be awesome!
- SMILE! Weddings are a joyous occasion. Don't stand around looking bored or with a frown glued to your face. Have a good time!
And finally, remember to drink lots of water, get plenty of rest the day before, wear comfy shoes and, this is very important, wear deodorant. Trust us.
If you have a question for Let's Talk Tuesday, email us firstname.lastname@example.org!