Thinking about becoming a wedding photographer? The logical first step is to second shoot for another photographer – meaning you shoot alongside them at a wedding to learn the ropes, build your portfolio, and make a little money.
I’ve been second shooting myself lately just to learn a bit from other photographers and play with new techniques. As I’ve worked with these photographers, I’ve heard some serious horror stories about other second shooters overstepping their bounds. It seems most of them simply don’t know any better. So whether you’ve been second shooting for a while or are just starting out, here are few tips for how to be a great second.
Offer something better than “free labor.” Many photographers receive emails about second shooting weekly if not daily. A common request I get is the offer to shoot a wedding along side me “without compensation.” That’s great for you, as you get to build your portfolio and learn a few things. But for me, it’s less of an asset and more of a distraction. If you’re new enough that you’re willing to shoot for free, it’s more than likely I’ll be training you while you are shooting, which is not always fun. Rather than offering to shoot for free, see what else you can bring to the table that might be helpful to the main shooter.
Rent good equipment if you don’t own it. Be sure to bring good quality equipment to shoot with. New lenses and cameras are expensive, but important. If you don’t own them, rent them for the day.
Get out of the shot. Always be conscious of where the other photographer is shooting. Try to stay out of their shot as much as possible. Remember – their shot is probably more important than yours.
Stay in the background. Allow the primary shooter to do all the posing and directing, unless they ask for your help. They’re running the show, so just stay in the background and try to shoot from a different angle.
Remember who you work for. When hired as a second shooter, you work for the photographer who hired you. So when people at the wedding ask for a business card, be sure to hand out cards for that photographer (not your own.) Chances are they want to see the photos from the wedding they are attending anyway, so they should be put in touch with the right person.
Ask before you post. Be sure the couple and the primary shooter are okay with you posting images on your blog or website before you do so. If they are, wait until the primary shooter has released images to the client and blogged the wedding themselves (if they plan to) before you post your images. Some photographers don’t mind if you post earlier, but always ask permission.
Never, ever. Ever. Never contact the vendors from the wedding and provide them with images. Never contact the bride directly and provide her with digital negatives or prints. Never use an image you shot as a second shooter in an advertisement. Never submit a wedding you second shot to a wedding blog or magazine. All of these roles are reserved for the primary shooter, so be respectful.
I always have other professional photographers second shoot with me, so I’m not currently looking to hire photographers. However, I am looking for a few good assistants. If you are interested in learning more about assisting, feel free to contact me.