Wedding Photography Wednesday: Second Shooters

Posted by on Oct 30, 2013 in Photography | Comments


Working with another person while photographing a wedding can be a huge help and add a lot of value to a wedding photography package. Second shooting is also a great experience for a photographer who is building a portfolio or who doesn’t want the responsibility of running a wedding photography business.

Bride in Wedding Dress Standing in Front of Groomsmen

Photo via Craftsy member Laura Robinette

Here are some of the things I’ve learned working as a second shooter and working with second shooters.

Benefits of second shooter

In meetings with potential wedding clients, I always outline the benefits of hiring a second shooter.

  • First, we can be in two places at once. If the bride and groom are getting ready in two separate places, we can be in both at the same time. On can shoot the bride walking down the aisle while the other captures the groom’s face as she walks toward him. This means we get alternate angles and extra perspective.
  • Second, there is an additional quantity of photos that I can deliver with two photographers, which means more choices for the album and for prints.
  • Third, I can expedite the time it takes to get all the portraits we need. Either both can be shooting portraits at the same time or one can be organizing groups of people or adjusting lighting while the other is shooting. Less time posing for photos means more time enjoying the reception.
  • Finally, if I’m less stressed about running around getting every shot (because my second shooter is getting many of them) then I can focus on being creative.

Bride and Bridesmaids

Bride getting ready in one place

Groom and Groomsmen

Groom getting ready in a another place

What to look for

People who enjoy second shooting are typically either exploring photography as a career, trying to build a wedding portfolio, or just shooting on weekends as a creative hobby. Any of these types of people can work well for you.

Find out first their level of experience. Are they comfortable using manual settings on a camera? Do they understand the basics of exposure? How do they take instruction? You don’t want to be teaching the entire time and you want someone that you can send on their own with your clients.

Also find out what kind of equipment they already have. You may need to rent equipment for someone who doesn’t already have a good set of gear. Typically, the rate I pay second shooters is based on experience and how much gear I need to lend out or rent so they can do a good job.

How to work with a second shooter

I typically book second shooters a month or two in advance. For people that are not full-time photographers, it can be difficult for them to have a schedule much further in advance than that. Once they are booked, make sure they have a copy of the timeline and know exactly when and where to show up. Make sure that they bring backup equipment or that you have a backup in the event that their equipment fails. I like to get images right away so I will either download my second shooter’s memory cards at the end of the night or have them shoot on my cards so I can take them with me. If this is not possible, they can always upload them to Dropbox or some other file-transfer method right away.

What their rights are

Make sure that you and your second photographer are on the same page as far as file usage goes. It may help to have a contract with your second photographer as well, especially if you don’t know them well. Think through whether you want to allow your second photographer to use the images for their portfolio and consider adding that to the contract with your client. I need to have the ownership to my second photographers images in order to sell prints to my clients. This is part of the deal when I hire a second shooter.

Having a qualified second shooter can add tremendous value to your wedding business. How do you go about finding great second shooters?

Comments

  1. Karen Holyk says:

    My husband and I were married this past summer, and the photographer we hired had a second shooter (turns out it was her best friends husband). Imagine our surprise when our photographer brought us the edited pictures, and we discovered that our photographer edited the pics she took, and the second shooter edited the pics he took. The color in the different edits were DRASTICALLY different! In our photographers pics the trees look a nice normal pine tree color, whereas in his pics they look tropical green. He created a thank-you card for us to use, but spelled both my husband`s first name, and our last name incorrectly. Anyway, when I brought this up with our photographer, and ask if she could fix it. She has refused to see what the problem is, not even fixing the spelling mistake! Anyway, my advice is for photographers out there, is to make sure that the client understands what exactly second shooter is doing (ie editing his own pics vs giving them all to the her to edit). Also, please have a contract with the second shooter, and go over it with the client, I never even considered looking at his work prior, because I trusted our photographer, and liked the way she took pictures. If I had known that he was editing his pictures, I never would have hired our photographer with the package for a second shooter!

  2. This is one of my hobbies, taking photos on a wedding events feels good. It’s not that easy and it takes long time to take it as a profession. But then I enjoyed clicking my camera and captures good memories. Thanks for sharing this article. The photos are so lovely.