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How to Be A Better Second Shooter

Guys! It’s ‘Tog Tuesday… like PhoTOGrapher Tuesday… get it? We will be popping in a few Tuesdays a month to talk directly to our followers who are photographers and share some FREE education! We were blessed to learn from a mentorship with an amazing husband and wife photography team when we were first starting out, and now we are excited to be able to help other photographers grow and learn!

So many of us gain experience shooting weddings by taking on second shooter jobs. When we were brand new, we were actually third and fourth shooters who were just tagging along carrying bags, watching, and sweating profusely anytime a wedding guest mistakenly took us for “real” photographers and asked us to take their picture. Now that we have been at it for about five years, we thought it might be helpful to know what makes a great second shooter from the lead shooter’s perspective . This should help you make an incredible impression on the more experienced photographer you are working with, which will ultimately land you more second shooting jobs, more experience, and a greater likelihood that you will be prepared and equipped if you decide to begin shooting weddings as a lead shooter!

1. Dress Appropriately
This seems like a no brainer, but we have been shocked at how many photographers and videographers show up WAY underdressed. And we aren’t the only ones who notice. If you want to be considered a high end photographer, a professional, someone who can be trusted… well, it starts right here. First impressions make a BIG difference, and what an easy way to start off on the right foot! Consider the venue where you’ll be shooting, and if you’re not sure how dressed up to get, you can always ask the lead shooter. We always recommend going dressier than not though – the picture above is about as casual as we ever get (it was freezing cold so the sweater was a MUST). Typically, dress pants and a nice shirt or dresses/skirts are the way to go.

2. Organize Family Members During Formals
Family formals can be one of the most chaotic times of the day, especially if your clients have a lot of requests for large group shots. You have a lot of people and a small window of time. It goes a LONG way if you can take the stress of finding family members off of the lead shooter. Stage the next group off to the side so the lead can grab them as soon as they are ready. And don’t be afraid to ask one of the bridal party members to help you gather people – they are usually excited to help!


3. Smile
We can’t tell you how many times people have commented on how much we were smiling on their wedding day. It’s such a simple thing, but it goes a long way. We love what we do, and it shows when we are joyful while we work. Always be aware of the stress a wedding day can bring to those who have been planning it for so long… consider yourself an extra member of the bridal party for the day and make sure you bring calm, happiness, and encouragement throughout the day.

4. Get a Different Perspective
It’s tempting to stay right by the lead shooter’s side, but they need you to be getting different shots to add depth to the gallery. Make sure to use a different lens than the lead shooter (we typically use the 70-200 for second shooting to get those zoomed in details and to capture candids from afar without being noticed!). If the lead shooter is taking pictures head on, consider finding a different place to shoot from to help tell a more complete story of the wedding day through a different perspective.


5. Keep Track of the Timeline
It is such a blessing to have someone discreetly reminding you, “We have 15 minutes left of portrait time.” Or “Hair and makeup is running long – we will need to move quickly to get everything in by the first look in thirty minutes.” You can make the lead shooter look great to the clients by helping them stay on top of the day’s schedule, which will ultimately make you look great to the lead shooter!

This is really what it all comes down to. Sure, second shooting can be great for getting some killer new images in your portfolio, learning from a more experienced photographer, and getting the inside scoop on how to create a great client experience on a wedding day. But in the end, that’s secondary to making sure the client has incredible memories to look back on and relive their big day. So what does that look like? It may look like putting away your camera and holding a reflector to make sure the bride looks incredible during portrait time. It may mean offering to carry bags or grab water or hold the veil for an epic shot. And when you aren’t spending time making sure the lead photographer has everything they need to take amazing pictures, you should be serving the clients – pinning boutonnieres, holding flowers, fluffing the dress… We have done everything from offering clients our jackets or shoes (like, literally the ones we are wearing) to bustling dresses to putting in veils…. You never know how you’ll be serving on a wedding day, but whether you are the second shooter or the lead, you should ALWAYS be looking for ways to serve.




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