Everything you need to know about Second Shooting a Wedding

When I began my photography business, I never expected to do weddings. In fact, I swore I would NEVER shoot weddings. But in January of this year I shot ten weddings in a year haha sooo in the wise words of Justin Bieber, never say never ;)

In all seriousness, I started second shooting just get exposure and wanted to see if the wedding industry was something that I was really interested in. A photographer friend asked me to second shoot with her and that was my first wedding ever! I learned so much and continued to second shoot for two other photographer friends and continued to grow. It was so much fun working with them and learning from them - they both taught me so much!

After gaining more confidence, I decided to start booking weddings and started to book them through Instagram and through word of mouth! I wrapped up my wedding photography career in January 2019 as we prepped to move abroad.

I’ve gotten a lot of DMs from other photographers about second shooting and thought I’d share my experience with y’all of how to get into second shooting and the do’s + don’t’s of being a second shooter!

3 TIPS FOR BEING A SECOND SHOOTER:

  • CONNECT WITH LOCAL PHOTOGRAPHERS - Facebook has a lot of great online community groups for you to join. I always stress about how important connecting and creating community is (especially in the creative industry) and have created a FB group of female photographers.

  • SHADOW A PHOTOGRAPHER - If there’s a photographer you have been #fangirling over reach out and ask them if you if you can shadow them during a wedding to gain experience. A gal reached out to me for a mentor session and knew that she wanted to dabble in weddings, so I asked her if she would be interested in being my second shooter + she said yes! Once you begin to create online relationships, you can then take them offline and work together!

  • KEEP ASKING + LEARNING - Never stop learning because this is how you grow! Watch YouTube videos, listen to podcasts, join community groups, save up for a workshop or mentor session, read blogs + books, never stop being a student! As soon as we stop, that’s when our pride creeps in and stops us from being the creative God has designed us to be!

SECOND SHOOTER RESPONSIBILITIES:

  • SHOW UP ON TIME - Please show up 15-20 minutes early ready to go!

  • DRESS PROFESSIONAL - I recommend wearing all black (my go-to outfit haha). I wear a long dress with pockets or a blouse with black pants and comfy shoes! For guys I recommend wearing slacks, comfy shoes + a button down shirt.

  • ASK BEFORE POSTING THE IMAGES - It’s polite to ask the main shooter if you’re allowed to post the images on your social media. The main shooters I’ve always worked with have always let me post them on social media, I just always credit them! This isn’t the case for all photographers, so make sure to ask them what their rules are about this!

  • CREDIT THE MAIN PHOTOGRAPHER - If the main photographer is okay with you posting your images from the wedding on social media, please credit them in the caption and photo. You can say something along the lines of “Second shot this wedding for @amazingphotographersname!”

  • ASK HOW YOU CAN HELP - Whenever I am shooting a wedding, it’s easy to get in the zone that I will forget things: like eating, drinking water, or I’ll need to switch out my camera battery. It’s really helpful when my second shooter will ask, “Hey, can I help you with anything?” It calms my nerves and reminds me that we are a TEAM and that I don’t have to have all this pressure on myself!

MAIN SHOOTER’S RESPONSIBILITIES:

  • COMMUNICATION IS KEY - Just as you are in communication with the bride + groom, it’s important to be in communication with your second shooter. I will walk through timeline and photos with the second shooter 4-6 weeks prior to the wedding. Once the bride and I finalize the details, I will send it over to my second shooter and we will either meet in person or do a call and will answer any questions they have! This helps us to be prepared on the wedding day and to work together as a team! We are both there to serve and help each other give the bride + groom photos they will treasure for a lifetime! :)

  • RETURN THEIR SD CARDS BACK TO THEM - I’ve heard so many horror stories of photographers not giving back the SD card of the second shooters. This is not cool! It is their SD card, they took those images. If this is something you plan on doing, please communicate it with your second shooter so they are aware that they will not get their images back. Or if you give them back their SD cards, be informative about what they can and can’t do with the images from the wedding. (Make sure this is in a contract)

  • PAY THEM - Another horror story I have heard is that the second shooter will leave without getting paid. Every photographer deserves to be paid for their work! Just because they are newer in the industry does not mean they shouldn’t be paid. I pay my second shooters $15-$25/hour if they are new and $50/hour if they have wedding experience.

  • RESPECT YOUR SECOND SHOOTER - They are their to help assist you, so please please please be kind to your second shooters. Weddings are already stressful, emotions are high and there’s also a little “something” that goes not as planned haha so it’s important to kindly + calmly communicate that to your second shooter. Be encouraging, be patient, and be nice.

  • MEET UP WITH THEM BEFORE THE WEDDING - If you haven’t met before, grab a cup of coffee together and get to know each other! This is will make things run smoothly on the wedding day.

FAQ ABOUT SECOND SHOOTING A WEDDING

  • WHAT GEAR DO YOU RECOMMEND?

    • This varies from each photographer, but for me personally I shoot on my 35mm during the whole wedding day! I’ve worked with second shooters and they shoot on a 24-70mm, 85mm, or 50mm! I just really love my 35mm so it doesn’t leave my camera & if I want closer up shots, I have my second shooter use a 50mm or 85mm!

  • HOW DO I DISCUSS PRICING WITH THE MAIN SHOOTER?

    • Pricing can be an awkward topic to bring up, but don’t be shy about it! Be straight up. Let them know how excited you are for the opportunity to work with them and what they pay their second shooters. It’s not a weird question to ask!

  • WILL I BE ALLOWED TO POST MY IMAGES FROM THE WEDDING ON MY INSTAGRAM AND WEBSITE?

    • This varies from each photographer so I would make sure that it’s okay with them before posting!

  • HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET MY SD CARD BACK FROM THE MAIN SHOOTER?

    • Again, this varies from person to person. I’ve gotten my SD card back the same night or next day and other times a couple weeks depending how busy the main photographer was!

  • SHOULD I RENT ANY GEAR FOR THE WEDDING DAY?

    • It’s up to you! I would check with the main shooter and see what their setup is and then the two of you can decide if it’s necessary to rent any additional gear!

Second shooting is a great way to not only grow as a photographer but it’s a sweet way for you learn from other photographers and is a sweet way to serve them + their clients! If you’re thinking about second shooting, I’m over here rooting for you!!!

If you’ve never been a second shooter before, what questions do you have? Drop them in the comments below, I’d love to share more of what I’ve learned with you! :)


Julia MannComment