There’s no denying it, shooting as a second is way different than being the primary photographer! And with that, there comes a shift in responsibility and a shift in mindset. After shooting weddings for many years as the head photographer as well as having my share of weddings as a second, I’ve come away having learned the two very different worlds (and how to thrive in both!) Today I’ll give five tips for being the best second shooter around!
- Modify Your Mentality
This is the first and I’d say probably the most important part of being a second! Before you ever arrive on the wedding day, you have to remind yourself over and over that you are not there to drive the ship. Natural instinct will want to take over but getting the perfect shot isn’t your main responsibility today. You’re going to want to direct and instruct…don’t. You’re going to want to pose….don’t. Let the first shooter make the calls and get the attention. You never want to self promote or try steal the attention away from them. Remember, the bride booked them–you are only there to help.
- Define Responsibilities
If time and location allows, try to schedule a time when you can meet and talk through the wedding timeline together before the day of the wedding. As you do, ask specific questions about what is expected of you. Do they want you to shoot more in the background? Do they want you to pull the bridal party aside for extra shots? Which sections will you be responsible for? The more questions you can ask, the better job you’ll be able to do (and exceed in doing) because you are clear on your responsibilities!
- Watch for Ways to Act
Here’s what I mean. If you’re a wedding photographer you already know the amount of stress that is happening on wedding days, which means you already have an in to how you can practically help. Fill up water bottles, grab extra equipment and bags, offer to run back to the car if something was forgotten, read where they’re at in the timeline, give updates on time, pull out their snack to let them eat, offer to drive between locations. And if you can do these things BEFORE they actually need it, bonus points!
- Be Sensitive to Their Shot
Let’s be real. You’re there to take pictures–or else they wouldn’t have hired a second shooter. But you’re not there to fill your portfolio! You’re there to compliment theirs! Since they are getting the money shot, be sensitive to their movements. That means most likely you’ll be helping get the wide angles, candid, in between or side shot. And that’s okay. As you’re doing that, be aware of your placement and make sure you’re not accidentally showing up in their background.
- Respect Post Wedding Processing
One of the nice things about being a second shooter is after the wedding you don’t have to edit any of the pictures!! Most primary shooters will bring something for you to download your images before you leave the wedding day. Here’s where you need to be cautious. Don’t post any images before the primary (again–you’re not the feature here!) and I’d even go as far as to say don’t post anything until you confirm that the bride has their complete gallery back. Even then, always tag the primary in your posts. Remember, this was their wedding! Ask your primary shooter, but most of the time you shouldn’t use images from the wedding on any print promotional or galleries where they can’t be credited.
Second shooting is fun and a completely different experience–and I hope as you go into it that you’ll be able to tuck these five tips away so that you can give your primary shooter the best experience possible! Serve & love them to the best of your ability!!