what the heck is a 2nd shooter?

“who is that other photographer?”

“um, there’s two photographers here?”

“i have never seen this chick before but now she is all up in my grill with her camera”

second shooting is one of my favorite gigs of wedding photography. i view these as mini-breaks from the stress and monotomy of being a primary wedding photographer. in april, i was able to second shoot two times – once in san jose and once in san diego. in adjacent to those two weddings, i have not released these blogs yet since i am not allowed to blog the weddings until the primary photog has. this being said, i realize that a lot of clients, Facebook friends, or family members [especially in my family] don’t understand the purpose or importance of second shooting. and as i enter into this busy season, eight of my twenty-two [thus far] weddings this year are going to blogged as a second shooter. and the remaining fourteen weddings i will hire a second shooter myself. so i decided that as i enter my busy month of may, i would blog about why i take on the job of a second shooter, the downsides of second shooting and why i need to explain the importance of the second shooter to my clients more often.

 why i take second shooting gigs when i have my own weddings to shoot:

1) I get to network with photographers from all over the world. 2) I get to shoot in a location that I may not have had the opportunity to shoot in [i.e. I’m second shooting in Puerto Rico this year!]. 3) You get paid a solid amount of money for one day’s worth of work [i.e. I get paid between $250-$350 per eight hour wedding days]. 4)  It allows me to step back from the hectic wedding day timeline and be creative in a way that i may not have the time to be as a primary shooter. 5) You get to hangout and photograph the groom and his dudes…let’s admit it, are a lot more relaxed than the bride and her bridesmaids. 6) It is actually a lot of fun. As long as the primary shooter isn’t a stress ball! 7) If you need to update your portfolio with weddings, this is a great way to gain experience, make the silly forgiven mistakes and grow exponentially in the wedding industry.

 the downsides of second shooting:

1) The primary photographer who hires you owns your photos. Based on your contract, you will have limited use of your photos post-wedding day. So if you do an exceptional job and the wedding is in an amazing location or with drop-dead gorgeous models, it doesn’t matter. The primary photographer owns them and you can’t submit them to wedding blogs. [I have learned this the HARD way. not laying out the expectations, the cost for my work, etc. It has bit me in the booty]. 2) At times when you want to take control or suggest posing ideas, you have to be careful not to “step” on the primary photographers shoes. I have only had a few primary shooters tell me that i am not allowed to direct the clients at all but shoot from afar; but the cool, well-established and secure ones are all about sharing mutual shooting time [my personal opinion ;)] 3) You have to wait to post, blog or upload any photos from the session until the primary shooter has given you the green flag [So in April, I second shot twice, but have not been able to release my blog yet]. 4) You hand over your cf cards at the end of the night, and you feel naked and vulnerable. But don’t worry, you get over it.

why i need to explain the importance of the second shooter to my clients:

1) I started my photography career shooting weddings alone. I had no idea the importance of having another set of eyes [and creativity] for someone’s wedding day. Truth be told, i didn’t know what i was doing. Fast forward into year three of photography, i realize that second shooter pick up on things that i may not see because i am so focused on hitting the most important shots and am dedicated to a shot list. 2) I am with the bride, the second shooter is with the groom. Easy as that. The groom is just as important to photograph on the wedding day as his bride is. But since I can’t be in two places at once, I have another shooter there. 3) There are a lot of guests that went out of their way to arrive and join you on your wedding day, and they need to be photographed too. So, that’s where a second [or even third] shooter comes into play. 4) If for some reason there is an issue with equipment or if I fall ill during your special day, we automatically have back-up images and coverage [this has never happened to me, but you never know what curve balls could come your way!]

questions about being a second shooter or hiring a second shooter? post your questions below!


me second shooting for kara miller photography [photo by brian miller]

me and my second shooter sidney morgan photography [photo by erin pilfer]

me second shooting for betsy blue photography [photo by a guest who did not know how to use the focus button]

taken by my husband/assistant during a trash the dress session :]