Whenever I get the chance to second shoot, it’s always so much fun to highlight the groom, his buddies, and his style! I feel like groom prep and details often get overlooked or seen as less important than the brides, but one of the biggest aspects of my business that I stress is that this day is for BOTH of you. And of course, this goes for gay or straight couples! Whoever your partner is, this wedding is equally meant to celebrate BOTH of you. No one partner is more important, and I love getting to show that off!
Here are eight tips for crushing it as a second shooter!
These tips will help you continue being asked back by photographers you enjoy working with or get referred around to other photographers!
Pouring your heart into your work as a second shooter and caring about the lead photographer’s couple as your own will show through enormously. Not only does your lead photog care so much that you’re loving on their couple, but the couple themselves, their family, and friends deserve your FULL effort and care! Shoot the crap out of that wedding like it’s your OWN wedding – don’t half-ass the details, don’t sit on your phone during the reception, and don’t act like this is just another gig. This is someone’s big day!
I feel like sometimes second shooting is seen as ‘easy money’, but my hope is that anyone working with me on my photo team cares more about gaining experience and learning more about the industry and how to care for their own couples rather than just a paycheck at the end of the night. Yes, it’s great to make some money, but this is invaluable hands-on experience for your own career first! Treat it that way!
This one is HUGE! While the lead is likely capturing a straight-on angle of the couple, you can get super creative by shooting with a different lens, getting a totally different angle, shooting through trees/flowers/etc. for new and creative shots, and just focusing on adding and enhancing the gallery this couple will receive.
WHEW sorry, that comes off a bit harsh, but real talk: it can be super frustrating to the lead to have a second who is just trying to get that straight-on “perfect shot” for their own portfolio. Trust me, I GET it! Having images for your portfolio when you’re starting out is crazy important, but if you’re sitting over the lead’s shoulder getting almost the exact same shot, you’re not enhancing the COUPLE’S gallery, you’re adding to your own! If you see a shot you’d love, get it and then keep MOVING. Again, back to number 3! You can get that shot you want for your portfolio but then get back to changing it up!
Has the couple been on their feet and moving around for a while? Maybe ask if they need water or their signature cocktail drink (or just go grab it without asking!) Notice the moments where you can offer to hold or fluff the dress so the lead doesn’t have to stop shooting, hold the bouquet to give their arm a break, or anything to help ease the day for the photographer and couple!
A HUGE help for photographers is being able to share about the wedding they just photographed, but often times, we are so in the zone that we forget to grab any behind the scenes! If you can grab photos and videos on your phone or camera throughout the day for both the photographer and other vendors, that will show SO much care and attention that helps us so much!
What I love to see is a second photographer who has an interest in growing and getting better not only for themselves but in order to keep working together! When a second photographer shows the initiative that they’re reviewing their images from the day and interested in seeing how they could do better or change it up next time, THAT shows dedication! THAT shows commitment to ME as a lead photographer and to themselves as a growing photographer!
As you gain more and more experience, edit a solid set of images from each event and create your own portfolio of second shooting or assisting work (with permission from the lead photographers you work with, of course)! Creating this ongoing, up-to-date portfolio gallery that you can send to a photographer you’re hoping to work with not only shows that you’re prepared, confident, and a go-getter, but it also just helps them determine if you have the eye and skill they’re looking for. It’s okay if you don’t have THAT much to show at first – the more you do, the more you can add to it. Think of images that a photographer will want from their second shooter and make sure to add those to your gallery (details, unique angles, candid moments, etc.)
I hope these few tips help you next time you’re looking for a second photographer position!! Keep shooting and thinking about how YOU can help THEM, rather than the other way around! You’ll see so many more opportunities open up for you when you approach it from that mindset!
Okayyy, now I’d love if you could take a look at the images I shot for my friend Jen at her couple’s wedding over the summer! It was such an absolutely incredible July day!
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