Tips for being a GREAT Second Shooter at Weddings

Second shooting for weddings is a great way to gain experience and get a feel for how a wedding day flows. However, it is a HUGE responsibility and something not to take lightly!

Here are some tips and tricks for making sure you are ready to SERVE SERVE SERVE and do your part to make the day as smooth and productive as possible for the lead photographer.

It's not about you!

This is a big one for second shooting. You are there to first and foremost, serve the lead photographer. Sometimes it is not a glamorous job, sometimes you will be carrying bags, setting up lighting, gathering family members, etc. You are not there to primarily build your portfolio (even though most lead photographers will be ok with using the images in your portfolio).

Arrive early

This one should be a given! Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to get there, get parked, unload your gear, etc. If you beat the lead photographer, introduce yourself as the second/assistant to anyone that is there setting up, and start walking around and taking some venue/detail shots.

Request a copy of the timeline as soon as you can

Review the timeline thoroughly several times and keep a copy with you throughout the day. Ask questions to the lead photographer before the wedding about where they want you to be throughout the day. And as always- be flexible! If bridal shots are taking longer than expected, you may need to go shoot the groomsmen. Have a plan in place for the unexpected!

Have a phone call with the lead photographer before the wedding

I think this one is very important! Maybe not so much if you have worked with them before, but I think it is important to introduce yourself, talk through the timeline, and sure up some of the other things found in this list before the day arrives. If no phone call is possible, ask the lead shooter if you can email or text them with any questions you may have about the day. Also, review the lead's website and social media accounts so you know their style and can shoot in line with it.

Make sure you know the lead photographer's memory card preferences and expectations

This one might go under the radar at first (both for seconds and leads who are not used to having seconds!) but make sure you ask the lead if you will be using their cards, what kind of cards your camera takes, etc. You should also know approximately how many images your camera holds for different GB cards. Also, will you give the cards back to the lead at the end of the day, send the images via dropbox, etc? Make sure you both know beforehand!

Know your gear backward and forward, have manual mode mastered and make sure the lead knows your gear/lenses

Diving into a wedding is not a good place to practice manual mode. It's expected as you progress in your skills as a photographer that you can shoot manual in all the different lighting scenarios the day may present to you. Also, share with the lead your full gear list and lenses so that you can be sure to capture different parts of the day the best in tandem.

Don't shoot over the photographer's shoulder

Be creative! If the lead is shooting something and you are there with no other responsibilities at the moment, try some different kind of shots, some different angles, different lenses, etc for the scene at hand. The lead is not going to want to cull/edit the same exact angle that you took over their shoulder.

Have your gear cleaned, calibrated, charged, and ready to go

I am a huge proponent of making sure your lenses are properly calibrated. It makes a world of a difference!

Have a pencil and copy of the family shot list

I learned this one the hard way! One of the responsibilities you will PROBABLY be helping with is to gather people for family portraits. As you two go down the list of the different pairings and groups, you will need a pencil to keep track of what you have done so far because things are bound to get out of order and you will forget where you are in the list.

Memorize as many names of the wedding party as possible

People love it when you call them by name, and it shows professionalism and preparation if you have learned the names of the people in the bridal party, the parents of the bride and groom, and wedding coordinator.

Always refer back to the lead photographer when people ask about you/Never pass out your own business cards

If someone grabs you at the reception and asks about your business, make sure you give them the information of the lead photographer. This is common courtesy- because remember it's not about you! It shows professionalism as well. Bonus: ask for a few of the leads business cards to pass out in case this were to happen.

Grab details and creative angles throughout the day

Much like the tip about not shooting over the photographer's shoulder, look around and get creative with shots and details throughout the day. This will add variety and excitement to the gallery. Shoot through flowers, through trees, use a foreground, etc etc.

Ask lots of questions! (when appropriate)

If you guys have down time, pick your lead's brain about what has gone on throughout the day that you have questions about... ask about settings they chose for certain situations, how they handled a scheduling snafu, etc.

Make sure you are both on the same page in terms of images, sharing on social media (contract stuff)

You should sign a contract for the job, and in it should outline what the lead's expectations are for when you are allowed to post images on your own website or social media (if that is allowed by them at all!) I've worked with photographers who ask to wait until the whole album is done, and others are OK with posting after the sneak peek is done. In the contract will review hours the you are expected to be there, how and when you will get paid, etc.

Say thank you!

That's it! Second shooting is so much fun and you will have the opportunity to work with and learn from great photographers. Load up on energy bars and water bottles and get out there and crush it!