I have been shooting weddings now for over 5 years and for most of my weddings, I have a second photographer. I have met and worked with around 40 second shooters who have helped me over the years and I’m so grateful for having ongoing interest from various photographers wanting to work with me.
To help to get things off to a good start, I have collected some top tips that hopefully can help someone to smash it as a second photographer.
This list is based on my personal experience of things that are not always obvious, but can make a huge difference. It’s not meant to be preachy, but helpful and supportive.
10 Steps to Smashing it as a Second Photographer
1. Check Your Camera Clock Time. Try to make it part of your routine when you pack your bags if you are going to shoot a wedding. It’s hugely important to have your image capture times synced with those of the lead photographer so that when they are doing the editing, they can put all the images in chronological order.
2. Set Your WB to Auto. Unless you have been instructed otherwise, leave your white balance on auto so that the lead photographer can more easily use their own editing style on your shots. Your personal style might be different but remember you are second shooting for someone and you want to help things run smoothly.
3. Arrive Early. Allow plenty of time for your travel on the wedding day, especially if you think you might hit some major roads on your route. Send a text or call the lead photographer if you think you may be delayed, in particular if you are due to cover the bride/groom’s getting ready part of the day on your own.
4. Respect the Lead Photographer. Remember that the couple are the clients of the lead photographer, not you. Avoid taking the couple for your own portrait session. If you have any suggestions or ideas for a shot of them, make these to the lead photographer and agree the next step.
5. Shoot from Different Angles. There is no point shooting over the lead photographer’s shoulder. Find a different angle. What’s next to you or behind you? Is there something you can climb on or lie on? Can you shoot through something that may create interesting layers or shades?
…more TOP TIPs
6. Avoid Shooting at the Lead Photographer. Keep an eye out for where the lead photogrpaher is. Try to avoid standing directly opposite him or her, because the chances are that you would then be in their shot. Tuck down or hide behind the couple if you think you might be in the lead photographer’s frame.
7. Lighting. Avoid setting up your own lighting equipment without the lead photographer’s permission. Always speak and discuss your ideas with the lead photographer. Good communication is the key.
8. Please Ask for Permission Before You Share. Before you share any of your images on your website, blog or social media accounts, please check if you are ok to do so. The lead photographer will be able to confirm if the clients are happy that their images are publicly shared. If you have this permission, then be a good sport and tag in the person you second shot for and make sure that you don’t give the impression that you were the lead photographer yourself.
9. Don’t Give Out Your Business Cards. Again, remember that the couple are the clients of the lead photographer, not you. Perhaps grab a few business cards from the lead photographer or direct the people who ask for contact details towards the lead photographer.
10. Bring a Smile. It’s not going to break the bank but it will send out good vibes and make everyone happy. If you agreed the terms and were accepted to be part of the couple’s special day, then make most of it.
Big shout out to Sam, Nav, Steph, Jessica, Elyse and Jen for taking these ‘Behind the Scene’ shots of me.
10 Steps to Smash it as a Second Photographer
Eneka Stewart is a Buckinghamshire-based wedding and lifestyle photographer. Visit galleries and blog posts for inspiration. Get in touch to say hello and connect.