How to be a BOMB Second Shooter

Tips for Photographers

Throughout my photography career I’ve played both roles: hiring second shooters for my own weddings as well as being a second shooter for other photographers. I know firsthand how big the job is to photograph a wedding day and just how essential it is to have an amazing second shooter. So, if you are looking to up your game a second shooter then this blog post is for you!




Here are 8 ways to be an absolute bomb second shooter:

1. Have a plan.

Sometime before the big day schedule time to talk with the photographer. Whether that’s a meeting over breakfast, grabbing your favorite Starbuck’s fuel together, or having a quick Zoom call a couple days prior is a great way to make sure you’re on the same page. Every photographer is little different in the ways they approach a wedding day, so making sure that you understand your role and what’s expected will do wonders for the wedding day. Spend some time going over key points, a game plan for the day, ask any questions you may have, and know exactly what is expected of you. This will help foster a great working relationship between you and the lead so you can seamlessly work together as a team!

2. Do your homework!

Ask the Lead Photographer if they have a shot list. If they do, read it. Skim through the Lead Photographer’s instagram and website so you have a full understanding of their photography style, and make sure to follow that as closely as possible when second shooting. Something that I struggled with for awhile was being tempted to shoot for my own portfolio. (It’s hard not to when there’s all these pretty florals!) A friendly reminder that you are being paid BY the lead photographer to shoot FOR them.

3. Be prepared!

If the Lead Photographer gives you a timeline (and they should). Be sure to print yourself off a hard copy, use the digital copy to save it as your phone background so you can quick peek at it anytime throughout the day, sync it to your Apple Watch, set alarms on your phone to go off when you’re supposed to moving to the next thing….this allows you to be prepared for what’s next and to help the lead photographer stay on his/her game. Wedding days can be chaotic and stressful, and your job is to be as helpful as possible. If you’re the one asking the Lead Photographer “What time is the ceremony again?” or “Where do you want me to go?” then that can create more work and more distractions for the lead photographer. Questions are always okay, and is great way for the second shooter to learn, however be sure that you’re not distracting them because you weren’t prepared..

4. Capture behind the scenes for the photographer.

Both on your phone and on your camera! These are so great for their Instagram, social media, website, etc. As a photographer, you’re constantly photographing other people, so it’s a kind gesture to grab a few shots of them doing what they love! Bonus points if you can snag a few videos! It all makes great content for them! Lots of photographers post BTS pics and videos to their Instagram, and having some video footage allows them to post posing tips and such. A lot of photographers would love to have a nice picture of themselves in action for their website to break up all the formal headshots.

5. Snap those candids!

Like I mentioned before, the lead is often focused on the bride and groom, immediate families and bridal party getting all the “must have” shots. So this is a perfect time to look around and snap a few candid’s of the uncles chatting, the flower girls goofing off or people walking up to give grandma a hug. These tiny moments are often missed, not because they aren’t important but because the lead photographer has other things on his/her plate. So step up and grab those candids! They make great additions to the final gallery and the lead photographer will really appreciate it!

6. Do the dirty work.

Non-photographers don’t realize how little photography is actually involved in the long list of duties that fall under the umbrella of a photographer. There are lots of mundane tasks that need to be done throughout the wedding day, and stepping up to do those is such a huge help! Offer to grab water, offer to take the less exciting photos, so that the lead can focus on her clients. Offer to carry their bags, offer to grab a headshot of them if you have downtime, or even offer to run and grab the rowdy groomsmen. It is so helpful to the photographer to have someone handling these tasks so they can focus on the Bride & Groom.

7. Shoot around the photographer.

Make sure you are capturing a different angle than they are! Lead photographers are the ones coordinating everyone into a pose and typically shooting the straight on shot. And the photographer doesn’t need two of the exact shots, so step off to the side and get a completely different angle than the lead photographer! It’s also super helpful if you have a different lens than the lead photographer. This way they will be getting a wide shot while you get a tight shot, giving the couple a huge variety in their final gallery!

8. Focus on the details!

The lead will have an eye for the details as well but having an extra set of eyes on anything is incredibly helpful. Is the bride’s ring straight for that up close ring shot? Did the maid of honor leave a hair tie on her wrist? Does the mother of the groom have a tag sticking out of her dress? Do the guys have phones in their pockets or need their ties straightened? Help watch out for these things that might seem small but really make a huge impact!

Following these 8 tips will turn you into a bomb second shooter that any lead photographer would be THRILLED to have on their team!

  1. Heather Rhea says:

    Thank you for sharing your tips as a lead / 2nd shooter for a bomb experience. I will keep these in mind for my future. Have a beautiful day

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