How to be a Second Shooter: The Workshop

I’m pretty sure that all of us started out second shooting or even third shooting. It’s definitely not an easy task. Although, it can be quite fun and a great opportunity to work with fabulous photographers and gain amazing experience. Last week I hosted a free workshop on how to be a second shooter. After feeling discouraged last season with the results I was getting back from second shooters, I realized that the blame was primarily mine. I shouldn’t expect the second shooters that were shooting a wedding with me to be able to read my mind in order to know the shot I was expecting them to get. I certainly couldn’t teach them on a wedding day.

Here are some of the bits of advice that were shared with the group.

1. Shoot something different than what the primary is shooting.

It doesn’t really help the primary shooter when a second shooter is shooting directly over their shoulder. Rest assured that the primary shooter is going to get the shot that they need. It is, therefore, the job of the second shooter to capture something different…be it from a different angle, using a different lens or composing a completely different shot (say, if for example, you’re shooting the bride’s wedding shoes, don’t shoot what the main photographer already set up and shot…do something different with the shoes).

2. Capture candids and crowd reactions.

While the main photographer is shooting the main event, definitely capture candids of what’s going on around you. During the first dance and toasts, shoot reactions…details that the main photographer isn’t able to capture. During family formals, shoot reactions of the crowd looking on.

3. Capture environmental shots. 

Remember, we’re documenting a couple’s wedding day…not just key moments in between. Capture elements of the venue, the getting ready location, the food…things that can add to the couple’s wedding portfolio as a story telling aspect of what their complete day looked like.

4. Use selective focus. 

If the main photographer is focusing on a portrait of the couple, perhaps focus on the bride’s bouquet. If the main photographer is shooting the complete bridal party, perhaps focus on a select member of the bridal party or a specific detail.

5. Shoot for the primary…their needs/wants. 

Often times second shooters are shooting for their portfolio. DON’T! Your main job when hired by a photographer is to shoot for them and their needs. I’m sure that you’ll be able to capture something that’s indicative of your personal style and adequate for your portfolio. Don’t be a selfish shooter and check your ego at the door.

6. Have the proper equipment and be at the ready. 

Review in anticipation of the wedding with the main photographer what he/she needs from you. Study their style and ask questions as to what their gear is and what they prefer you have in your gear arsenal. Throughout the day, keep a watchful eye on the main photographer, see what lens their shooting with and adjust your lens selection accordingly. There’s no sense shooting the same scene with the same lens unless it’s something completely different than what the main photographer is shooting.

7. Dress accordingly. 

You are a representative of the main photographer and their brand. Ask them if they have a preference on your attire well in advance of the wedding day.

8. Be nice. Smile.

Often times the main photographer is stressed throughout the day. Don’t add to it. Instead, offer assistance, get them a drink of water, if they need one, and definitely smile. Be courteous to other vendors, the couple, the bridal party and all of the guests in attendance. Remember, you are a representative of the main photographer.

9. How and where to showcase images. Portfolio building.

Have a conversation with the main photographer of what your expectations are with the images that you shoot. Understand their demands and limitations with what you show. Remember, the wedding you shoot with a main photographer is NOT your wedding…it’s the main photographers. You don’t know what, if any, conditions that have to meet with their client when showcasing their wedding on any social media outlet. Just be clear and come to a solid agreement with the main photographer with respect to how you showcase images (if you’re allowed to) BEFORE you shoot.

10. Ask upfront for details/specific/terms.

Communication is key when you’re a second shooter.  Ask well in advance of any wedding shot where you’re shooting (if that information hasn’t already been provided to you), coordination of the day (how you’re getting there, parking, times), if and how you can use images you shoot throughout the day, and what the pay is.

I’ve started a Facebook Group for those of you that want periodic tips, tricks, have questions, wanna share…

A HUGE, HUGE thanks go out to my friend, Nicole. We frequently trade dates with each other throughout the season and share similar experiences. It was great to also have her input when discussing topics with the workshop attendees.

A BIG, FAT, HUG and thanks go out to Stephanie and Ed, our fabulous models that were there for the shooting portion of the workshop.

And a YAY and HIGH FIVE go out to Ashley for helping me stylize the shoot, my studio assistant, Melissa, for all her help throughout the day and for capturing some of the images below along with Nicole.

Finally, THANK YOU, to all of the workshop attendees. I’m thrilled that you came out in order to better your craft. To all of those on the wait list of the next workshop, sit tight and keep an eye on your email inbox for a future workshop date.

  • Hi Isabel,

    Add me to the list for the next session. I am a wedding photographer myself and looking at possibly being a second shooter when I don’t have any weddings scheduled. Or gaining tips and helpful info for my second photographer. If you ever need a second photographer or studio assistant I would love to meet with you.

    I love your work!


  • LOVE how these images look! Looks like a completely successful workshop Isabel! Great job as always!!ReplyCancel

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