Monday, June 22, 2015

FAQ: Second Shooting

I've done my fair share of second shooting. I still second shoot and I plan to until I don't have the time. I absolutely LOVE it! It's a great way to learn from other photographers, to connect with other photographers, to grow your portfolio, and to be more creative. When I was first second shooting, I was growing my portfolio because I had absolutely NO wedding images. It was important that I got some really great shots because I wanted to book my own weddings. I'm so thankful for the people I've been able to second for because they are the reason I did book weddings my first year in business. But there are things I have learned after second shooting over fifty weddings that I feel a lot of second shooters don't understand. I have made mistakes while second shooting so I realize no one is perfect. But it's definitely a challenge finding shooters who you can trust completely so I think these tips will help for those of you who do second shoot or want to start.

1. First of all, when you're second shooting, you need to have the first shooter in mind! ALWAYS. As much as you want to get shots for your portfolio, you need to first be getting shots for the main shooter! I used to HATE that I never had shots of the bride and groom looking at me or that I had to shoot cocktail hour while the first shooter shot portraits. It drove me insane that I wasn't able to capture the whole day the way that I wanted. BUT, it got to the point where I had to realize this wasn't my wedding and I needed to capture everything the first shooter wasn't able to capture to help them! It's not about me when I'm second shooting! And also, sometimes those candid shots where the bride and groom aren't looking at you are the ones that end up on blog features! So don't feel like you're not capturing anything valuable!

2. As a second shooter, bring your first shooter a water, go get their food, ask if they need you to cover anything, shoot from different angles, ask how you can best match their white balance to make editing easier, ask if they tend to overexpose or underexpose, make sure you know ahead of time what you need to capture, carry their bags (sometimes this isn't possible with your own bags but if it's needed, do it), grab a lens for them, etc. etc.

3. Another huge one is to make sure you feel confident enough to second shoot in the first place. You need to be able to expose properly, have sharp, in-focus images, and to know how to use flash proficiently. Just because you're a second doesn't mean you can get away with not really knowing what you're doing. In fact, I'm at the point now where I want my seconds to be able to cover the wedding the way I would in case I got sick or something happened.

4. If you're photographing the guys getting ready, for example, don't be afraid to tell them what to do! You can't be passive as a photographer unless you fall into the photojournalistic side of things and you don't direct at all. I'm a very directive photographer so I like to have second shooters who are as well. I'd rather you stop and take time to fix something or move someone while shooting than to think you're going to mess up a moment or disturb the groomsman/guests. It's SO MUCH better in the end to have well lit, well posed images.

5. BE PASSIONATE! I cannot express this enough. Second shooters should care deeply about the images they are capturing for the first shooter. Don't be lazy! It is so frustrating when a second shooter doesn't crop distracting elements out of an image or when they keep asking the main shooter when they get to go home. There's nothing worse than being able to tell when the second shooter isn't into it.

6. Try your best to shoot with a variety of lenses and to shoot with a different lens than the main photographer during each part of the day. You don't want to capture the exact same image as the first shooter so check their lens and put on something different to give them more variety.

7. With all this being said, I do think second shooters deserve to be paid. It's hard work!! In the beginning I did it for free which I am glad I did because I was so new but I've been so blessed to work for shooters who believe in my work and want to pay me! Everyone has a different hourly rate but make sure you know what you're getting paid before shooting if you are doing it for more than just experience.

Hope this helps at least one person!! Have an awesome week, my friends!


  1. Yes, thank you! I've only second shot one wedding, but I really want to do more. I want to grow my own portfolio and this is super helpful. One thing- how do you approach people asking to second shoot for them? And how did you find people in your area who might need a second shooter?


    xx, rn

  2. This post is GOLD. Everything you said is so on point!