When you’re first getting started out in wedding photography, some of the best ways to get experience is by being a second shooter!
- Find a different angle from the main shooter – Don’t just shoot over the main shooter’s shoulder the whole day. Find a different and more unique angle during portrait time so that there is a better variety of images in the final gallery. This is HUGE help if you are tight on portrait time with the bride and groom the day of the wedding. And always check in on what angles they want covered during the ceremony to help get the best coverage.
- Show up early, dress nicely – Or at the very least be on time. 🙂 It’s embarrassing to the main shooter when you show up late and it could also bring up an issue if you are required to be there a set number of hours. Always plan to show up early. It’ll give yourself time to get gathered, look over the timeline, and maybe even scout out locations. If the main photographer hasn’t given suggestions for attire, you can’t go wrong with wearing black. Black pants and a blazer or cardigan is a good place to start. It’s better to be overdressed for a wedding than underdressed.
- Don’t promote your business – That includes during and after the wedding. Don’t hand out your own business cards. Don’t add the bride and groom on facebook. Don’t upload images to your blog or social media without asking first. The way a bride and groom first views their images is an important part of the way the main shooter provides a client experience. If you post images up prior to theirs, the couple will be attached to your images first rather than the main shooter. Plus what if you post an image that wasn’t going to be delivered? It’s always best to ask what the main photographer what their parameters are for posting photos after the wedding so that there isn’t any confusion.
- Help with details – Help by capturing detail photos of things like the boutonnire, bouquet, programs etc. Grab outdoor photos of the ceremony and reception locations. It’s easy as the main photographer to get caught up in focusing on the bride, groom, friends, and family that a detail might slip their mind. The more details photos you can help provide, the less chance that something might get missed.
- Be a helper – That is one of the biggest ways to get asked back to be a second shooter. Be the first one to grab the brides dress when they walk and help carry bags. Keep an eye out for adjustments during family photos. Grab waters, snacks for the main shooter and bride and groom. Figure out where you’ll be seated during dinner. This helps take some of the stress off the main shooter and provides extra customer service for the bride and groom.
- Have an emergency pack – I always keep an emergency pack in my bag whether I’m a main shooter or a second shooter. You never know when you’ll need to save the day!
- Refer questions back to main shooter – It’s inevitable that you’ll be asked questions by family members or bridal party throughout the day. If you don’t know the answer to a question, always say “I’ll check with [main shooter] and let you know!” Never promise promise photos to someone, because if they don’t happen it falls back on the main photographer.
- Don’t delete your images from your cards – I know it can be tempting to delete those images where you mess up the exposure or get it completely out of focus. But don’t delete any images from your cards. You never know what the main photographer might be able to use and with the quality of the files these days, images can often times be saved. Plus when you don’t delete, it’s easy for the main photographer to check the beginning and end file numbers to make sure the total number of images was transferred off the card.
- Check cameras – Remind the main photographer to sync camera times. This will save them a little bit of time in the back end, getting the images to line up. Also, always check if they prefer you to shoot in RAW or JPEG. Everyone has their opinions on this topic, but always double check how they want their files delivered.
- Don’t Pose the Bride & Groom – Unless you’ve been given permission beforehand, don’t pose the bride and groom during portrait time. Your job is to get the extra angles from what the bride and groom are doing. If you jump in and start directing, it can throw off the flow of what the main photographer was wanting to do. If you have an idea, discreetly suggest it to the main photographer but don’t be upset if it doesn’t happen. It may not match with their brand or time can be tight.
Above all, just be as helpful as possible and help take care of the bride and groom on the day of. Remember that you are helping to add to the main shooter’s wedding day experience for their clients. That’s a serious responsibility. What are some of your favorite tips for second shooters? Let us know in the comments below!