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3 Main Goals of a Second Photographer | The Art of Second Shooting

At first, second shooting seems a lot like any other photography job, but truthfully it’s wildly different!  For most photographers,  you’re representing your own business when you photograph a client. But with second shooting?  You’re representing someone else!

Most people are surprised to know that I second shoot a ton.  For me, it’s a great way to fill in extra weeks with odd jobs while still being able to focus on my own business (because I’m not doing the editing or additional work involved in a wedding).  This year I’ve been compiling some thoughts and best practices to share with others on the topic, so be on the look out for future posts in this same category!

I’m going to start with some simple tips for all second shooters (SS).  There are a wide variety of types and maybe I’ll get into the different job descriptions at a later date, but for now, something that everyone can use.  :)

 

These are the top three things that I consider when second shooting, and also the top three things that I look for in a second shooter!

1) Provide amazing images.  Of course, this is the most obvious part of the job!  But amazing to me and amazing to someone else might be quite different.  So before I work with another lead photographer, I check out their portfolio and make sure to provide images that would fit within that realm.  We all have different shooting styles, and the goal is to blend with their style so well that no one can tell which images came from which person.  I even go so far as to ask which camera they prefer I use!  I typically shoot with my Nikon d700 because I LOVE editing the images from that camera.  But last weekend the lead shooter was using a Nikon d750, so I shot with the same camera.  It means that when she goes to edit those images, she has one less thing to worry about because the camera profiles are identical.

2) Make the lead photographers job easier.  I always try to anticipate what the lead photographer might need next.  If I’m not photographing at the moment, I’m looking to see what else needs to be done.  Does the lead photographer need water? An extra lens? Do I need to carry some of that heavy equipment?  Is the brides veil flapping awkwardly in the wind during formal photos?  Anticipating these things and helping out is huge!  When I’m looking for a second shooter I’ll often describe it as SS/assistant because being a photographer is a lot more than just taking photos!

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On the left we have Josh making a ridiculous face asking me if her dress is okay. He was second shooting for me that day and making sure her dress was perfect for the formal photos! On the right is a behind the scenes shot courtesy of Emily Gibby.

 

3) Represent their business well.  When I’m second shooting, I’m not Fowler Studios.  I’m Susan, the assistant/SS.  I love to get the lead photographers business cards at the beginning of the day because when someone asks the name of my company, I can hand them a business card and smoothly plug the photographer I’m working for that day.  The SS is far less busy on a wedding day that the lead, and they’re often the ones that guests see more often because they’re taking candids of the guests.  So conversations come up, and often it’s a building block for future business.  The more I know about the photographer I’m working for (from the research I did with #1 above), the better!  If my answers are all “I don’t know– ask _____” then that’s not a great representation of their business.  But if I’m able to pull out a business card and gush about how amazing that photographer is and how they’ll be able to see the best images from the wedding day in a future blog post, it just makes everything better and more professional.

There’s a lot more to second shooting than what’s mentioned above, but it’s a great starting point!  Are you a lead or a SS or both?  What are some thing you would add?  And please share questions as well– I’d love to answer them in future posts!

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