In 2016 I made a goal for myself to shoot 15 weddings….and I am happy to say that I was able to achieve that goal – but ONLY because I was willing to second shoot. I’ll admit, that’s not exactly what I had in mind for myself when I set that goal. Originally, I wanted those 15 weddings to all be mine. But at one point I realized I probably wasn’t going to hit 15 on my own, so I decided to let my pride go and start asking around and offering myself up for second shooting jobs. I am so happy I did this! I learned a lot of valuable lessons working under other photographers, and doing so was in no way belittling to me as a wedding photographer.
The point of my post today is to give VALUE to second shooters and to emphasize it is NOT a “less-than” job. I don’t care where you are in your business, if you put your pride away, second shooting with other photographers can be an experience you will learn from! Here are three lessons I learned while second shooting this past year!
Helps to solidify “Your Style”
When you are working under another photographer, you are able to see the way they work with their clients and other vendors. You are an observer of the way they interact and pose the bride and groom, their families, and the bridal party. You can see what works for them, and also what didn’t work so well without the pressure to “perform” being on you. You can take what you like and apply it to your own shooting style. Or, on the contrary, you can be glad you do things your own way!
Helps you be creative in your shooting
When you are not the one in charge of getting the “money” shots, that allows you to have a bit more freedom in the types of shots you are able to get! You need to think outside the box because, as a second shooter, your job is to get the angles that the lead photographer can’t! I love to focus on the reactions of everyone else besides the bride and groom – the couple will treasure seeing how their parents reacted during their ceremony, or what the flower girl was doing on the dance floor! I also love to capture some of the often overlooked details of the day – his hand on her back or the glance she gives him in between toasts.
Gives you opportunities you wouldn’t otherwise have
Being a second shooter for other photographers gave me the chance to shoot at locations I had never shot at before! This gave me greater exposure to other vendors, and also expanded my horizons and stretched me out of my comfort zones. I worked with personality types that I may not have booked for myself, because I tend to draw in brides that are more like me. This was good for me to learn how to work with and show love to people whose personalities are different from mine!
While there are lots of good things that come to you as a second shooter, it’s important not to forget that ultimately the credit goes to the lead photographer. Be respectful. A few final tips —
Be sure to communicate with the lead photographer on what you are allowed to do with your images after the wedding – if you can blog, post on social media, or use in your online galleries. As a general rule, though, don’t post anything before the lead photographer does! That’s just rude.
Don’t advertise for yourself. If anyone comes up to you throughout the wedding day, always give proper credit to the lead photographer! Hand out their business card, NOT yours (both literally and figuratively).
So even if you’re a well-established photographer, and even if you’re not struggling to meet your wedding goals for the year, I’d challenge anyone to second shoot for someone else at least once or twice a year! It can be a great learning experience and help you step into your next wedding that much more confident!
The wonderful photographers I was able to shoot for:
Stacey Lee Photography