For most people getting into photographer, second shooting for another wedding photographer is a great way to get your foot in the door to the industry. It allows you to build your portfolio, learn from another professional, get as much practice in as possible, and helps you figure out the type of photographer you want to be. Being a second wedding photographer has so many positives, but to be honest, some people end up looking at it in the wrong way.
The thing is, all those benefits of being one is wonderful. However, your number one job of the day is to be the absolute best photographer for the main photographer. The day has absolutely nothing to do with you or your portfolio. It has everything to do with making sure the lead photographer looks amazing and is providing the best experience possible for the couple.
I've heard plenty of horror stories of second photographers being a complete nightmare to the lead photographer. They've focused solely on the shots that they want, and building their portfolio. That's unfair and unjust. This is why I wanted to create a full guide on how to be the best second photographer that you can be. If you are, then guess what, you will continue being asked to second shoot and building up your skill set! Let's get into it.
Be in the right mindset
The mindset that you should have is that you are going to go into the day like it's your own wedding. You want to show up with an amazing attitude, and serve the photographer as if she/he was your couple. The photographer is your client. How can you serve them to the best of your abilities? You want to make sure that they look so good and will provide the best experience possible to the couple.
Do your inspiration research
One of the main reasons a lead photographer likes having a second is they are another set of eyes. Do your research on the venue, then also do research on inspiration for the day. If the lead photographer gets in a creative rut, you are there to help them come up with a new idea. Don't just show up and do what you're told. Take initiative and be ultra prepared.
Ask the right questions
Don't be afraid to ask questions, but try doing them before the actual day if possible. The lead photographer has to be able to focus on the day and the couple, not you. If you are totally unsure about something, then of course ask, but try thinking of questions that you may have beforehand. Some things you may want to know are:
- Are there any specific poses of groom/bride/ceremony you are hoping I get?
- Are there any expectations that you have of me?
- How do you typically like to work with second photographers?
- Have you had any nightmare experiences with a second photographer?
- How do you generally take the images from me? Should I have two SD cards? Will you give me one?
Take behind the scenes photos and videos
To have images of the lead photographer working and behind the scenes can be great for their marketing purposes. And trust me, they will greatly appreciate it. It gives a glimpse of them working with the couple for future clients. They can use these on their website or social media channels. Try your best to keep this in mind!
Be independent and creative
While the lead photographer will most likely have their own list and ideas, it's great to enter the day with your own as well. You most likely won't be together the entire time, so having your own creative juices flowing will be really important. Plus, your job is to have a second perspective of the day. You don't need to get the exact same photos as the lead photographer. Your a creative, so be creative!
Show up early
Try showing up at least 15 minutes ahead of schedule. Plan to leave even before that. This will show that you are reliable and start the day with your lead photographer being impressed and relieved.
Be prepared and bring your own snacks. Don't lean on the lead photographer to bring them for you, and it might even be nice to have an extra one for them if you think of it. You will want to have snacks for throughout the day to stay energized.
Get the candids that your lead can't focus on
The lead photographer is trying to capture as much as they can, but sometimes they can't capture all of the candids they want to. That can be the goal of the second photographer to get the candids that generally go unnoticed. It will be such a pleasant surprise to the photographer once they get your images to see how many in between moments you were able to get!
Prepare the night before
Entering the day fully prepared is really important. Check all your batteries, prepare your bag, have empty SD cards, and your outfit ready. This will make sure that you are feeling stress free and ready for the day.
Abide by the lead photographers rules
Whether you like it or not, you are working for the lead photographer. If they don't want you using the images you take, then don't. If they don't want you blogging about the wedding, then don't. Do not cross the lines, or you will burn bridges. Relationships should be top priority for you. Think about it, if you do a great job with this photographer, they may refer you to future clients that they are not able to take!
Always remember, you are there for the photographer. If the bride is talking to the lead, don't step in and talk over them. You want to make a good impression by smiling, chatting when it makes sense, and being a calming, kind presence.
Promote the lead photographer, not yourself
This is harder than it seems. You will have people come up to you multiple times asking for your business card. Make sure that you have your lead photographers information and business cards on you. This is their business, not yours. If they ask you if you have your own business, you politely say you do but you also work for your lead photographer. It's very important to promote the lead photographer, and not yourself.
Be friendly and kind
Most of all, be friendly and kind. Be positive and calm. You need to be the bubbly upbeat person that keeps your lead photographer going. The days can be long and exhausting, don't let them get the best of you!
If you're going to be starting your second photographer job, I hope this is helpful information for you! Being a second photographer may not be your goal, but it will lead you into being a better all around photographer. I promise it will be worth it!
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