I don’t think there is much else that rivals a wedding in the department of making photographers nervous, especially if it’s your very first wedding. That’s why second-shooting is such a great idea, and if you are wanting to branch into more wedding photography, it’s a wonderful place to start. But if you’re anything like me, I was even a little unsure about second-shooting. What would I do? Am I even prepared to try this? And more importantly, who would hire me? In the spirit of community over competition, I want to let you in on a little behind-the-scenes of what second-shooting means and what all goes into it. This is not by any means the only resource or even an exhaustive compilation of everything you should expect if you decide to embark on a second-shooting adventure, but it’s my goal to share my experience in order to hopefully encourage you!
Lots of photographers would love
your help at a wedding, so don’t be intimidated to ask! Volunteer your time to some individuals whose work you admire and see what they say. The worst thing they could tell you is “no,” and, even then, you would still have the advantage of presenting yourself and just getting your face and name out there in case an opportunity does arise down the road.
Pass out your business card
like it’s free money! As long as you are accommodating, enthusiastic, and determined, an opportunity will come, and that will be an exciting day! As you start preparing for that second-shooting gig, there are several key things to keep in mind.
- You’re working for the primary photographer not the other way around. This means you should be prepared to help them with whatever their little hearts’ desire.
- Be prompt. Get there early if you need to. It’s something I have tried to work on in the last few months, so you’re not alone!
- People will notice you, but this shouldn’t be your goal. Since you aren’t the star of the show, it’s actually a really beneficial time for you! It’s easier to be the wallflower and soak in as much of the experience as you can.
Wedding photographers can be hired from anywhere from a couple hours to an entire day. It’s for this reason that you should come prepared. The primary photographer should contact you in advance and let you know the times he/she would like for you to arrive as well as a general idea of how you’ll be helping. Based on that window of time and the responsibilities, you can prepare in a few ways. Here are some questions
- How long will you be shooting?
- What will the weather be like?
- Does the time of day overlap a mealtime?
- Where is the location?
- How long will it take to get there?
- What equipment will you need?
- Any recommended attire?
These questions seem pretty basic, but I can’t count how many times I have showed up to a session without enough water bottles to last me in the sweltering heat, wishing I had a snack during lunchtime, or wearing super uncomfortable shoes because I didn’t consider the location.
I’ve found the bigger the bag, the better. And it’s better to come over-prepared than not prepared enough. But also consider how long you will be shooting and if there will be a place to store equipment. You want to be prepared, but you also don’t want to break your back!
The night before the event, review the schedule. Not only will this put your mind more at ease, but it will also help you keep the main thing the main thing. When you aren’t worried about the little details, you have more room to take it all in.
The day of the wedding can give you all kinds of crazy emotions, but hopefully you’ve planned ahead. In that case, the rest will be smooth sailing! Don’t believe me? I promise that once you get there, you will get into a rhythm and it won’t seem half as intimidating as you might think. Trust your primary photographer, and dive in!
Once you arrive at the venue (hopefully several minutes early), take a look around and get situated with your equipment. Now’s a good time to check your lighting and camera settings, and then jump right in an ask how you can help!
The duties of a second-shooter really vary depending on who your primary photog is. But, for the most part, you’ll be tasked with capturing images that the primary won’t have time for, photographing from another spot to give perspective, behind-the-scenes shots, or sometimes just bringing the primary a glass of water or retrieving a memory card!
While we’re here I want to point out that it’s really great to get creative. While the primary photog is the star of the day and your focus should always be on his/her needs, second-shooting leaves you lots of room to just snap away at your heart’s content. Since the primary is more in control, you get to be the free spirit. Try out different angles; maybe suggest a pose! You are a lot more uninhibited to experiment, so use that to learn. That way, next time you can focus on what worked best!
Have a fun story about the first wedding you photographed? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below! Did this post prove helpful in preparing you for your first second-shooting experience? I’d love to hear about that too!
And as a bonus, Katelyn James
, an influential photog I’ve mentioned on here before, uploaded a free second-shooter checklist
on her blog a couple days ago! Talk about perfect timing. For a limited time, you can download it and catch a little peek at her husband’s method when he second-shoots with his wife at weddings! He talks about the types of shots he captures as well as the equipment he uses to do so! Stay sweet and stay tuned, friends, you’re doing great things! (Photographs from a recent wedding I second-shot with Christa Rene Photography.)