8 Tricks for Being a 2nd Shooter

A few weekends ago I offered to be a 2nd shooter to help a local photographer and friend, Ray Mabry.

The wedding was on the smallish side, but it had both indoor and outdoor locations so it was a great opportunity to practice both natural light and flash photography.

Based on that experience, I made a list of 8 helpful tricks for anyone who wants to be a successful 2nd shooter:

1. Make sure your equipment is organized and prepared for a day of shooting

    • Clean and pack all of your lenses.
    • Charge all of your batteries for the camera and your external flash.
    • Have plenty of photo cards and make sure they are cleaned and formatted.
    • Remember items like extension cords, lens cleaners, duct tape, reflectors and your tripod.
    • Pack a small ‘accessories bag’ with few Band-Aids, Motrin, tiny scissors, a few safety pins and a Tide To Go Stain-Out Pen.

There may be other items you can bring based on where you are going, so give it some thought. Think about what could go wrong at your venue, and prepare as best as possible  It’s better to have it and not need it – than to need it and not have it.  Right?

2. Pack a bag of snacks

Staying hydrated and eating a little bit every few hours is essential.  I brought along water, an orange, a bag of nuts and some dry frosted mini wheat cereal.  The Bride and Groom arranged for our whole crew to eat dinner that night, but I would never make that assumption.  Bring what you need just in case – cause it’s not like  you can leave the reception and come back.

And don’t forget to pack the mints.

3. Get there early

If you are late, the lead photographer may question your value or worry about your professionalism.  The last thing you want to do is frustrate him or make him feel rushed.  Find out what time the lead will get there, and then plan on arriving 10 minutes before him.  Be there waiting with a smile and your excitement for the opportunity to help out.

4. Review the game plan

Spend a few minutes with the team confirming the flow of the day.  If you have questions about equipment, get the answers.  Confirm your shooting role at the wedding ceremony and reception.  Little things like weather changes from sun to rain could have major impact on your shooting strategy.

Click here for a wedding photo checklist I found on the internet.  It’s very detailed and can be a great starting place for the team to get clear on what shots are important to capture.  

Yes, write it down. Trying to keep all the details in your head will NOT work.

5. Be present and invisible at the same time

You are in an assistant role – You should be aware and available for the photographer and the family, without taking over.  Make suggestions for interesting backgrounds or for shots they may have overlooked.  Help the team with large group shots  and keep the other guests at bay. Ask the lead photographer if it’s ok before handing out your own business card – especially if you are a photographer that also books weddings.

6. Take shots that are non-traditional

The lead photographer will most likely be in charge of getting the more traditional shots — so why not approach your role as a “documentary filmmaker”.  Take guest action shots, behind the scenes stuff, non-traditional points of view and use other lenses for different effects.

Pay attention to kids especially – as they tend to become the life of the party when the music starts.

7. Finish strong

By the end of the day, you’ll probably be exhausted – and so will everyone else.  Make sure you do a few simple things to finish strong

    • Thank the lead photographer and the staff for the shooting experience
    • If appropriate, thank  the venue location staff and family members you have met throughout the day
    • Re-pack your bag with the same care and organization as you did before the event
    • Before you leave the location, ask the lead photographer if there is anything else you can do to end the event successfully

8. Remember to follow-up

A few days after the wedding, get in touch with the lead photographer. Send a handwritten note or make a quick call, thanking them for the opportunity to work together. Let them know directly if you would be interested in helping out again in the future.

If you want feedback about the support you gave, ask questions like “What did you like about the way I helped out”, and “If we work together again, what would you change so the day will be more successful?”

Moving forward on my dream path

On my path to becoming a top photographer,  I will look for other events and opportunities to participate in so that I can gain confidence and narrow my niche a bit more.  I enjoyed being a second shooter on this wedding, and I would certainly do that again if the opportunity comes up.

But I don’t think my dream will be to become a “wedding photographer”.  Now that I’ve done that, I can check it off my list and look in to other kinds of photography and events to try next.

  • When it comes to your dreams, what are some of the things you can do to gain experience and define your path a little more?
  • What will you have to do to take that next step?

Until next photo,

Rem

Remy’s dream is creating opportunities for photography showings and public displays of her work

 

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  • Laurie

    What a stressful job, as well as rewarding. My daughter often spends the night with me
    the night before a wedding job and she is always checking, packing, doing all the stuff on your list. It’s definitely a day you want to be ready for.
    Good Stuff Remy!
    Have you seen our special movie we did in the city yet. It’s quite humerous on full screen mode. Hehehe…..see you soon
    Laurie

    • Remy, Photographer & CEO of Cornerstone Creative

      I have not seen the movie…would love the link. hehe

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  • Toni Schram

    May I suggest having a checklist of who you need to take photos of, i.e., bride with her grandparents, groom with his frat brothers, bride and groom with lifelong friends, etc, etc.

    When you get caught up in the whirlwind of a wedding, it’s nice to know you have to something to remind you of all the photos you need to take to “cover” the whole day.

    Great post as usual!

    Love,

    Toni

    • Remy, Photographer & CEO of Cornerstone Creative

      great idea Toni! I want to make sure the family, especially the bride, has the least amount of stress as possible. That list will certainly put them at ease.

  • Heather Montgomery, CEO & serial entrepreneur

    Rem – That was such a great day! Thanks for the great prep reminder – H

  • Catherine Hughes, Editor & Chief

    That could almost be a list for living a successful life! Great post.

    Cath

    • Rod

      Catherine,

      Nice catch!

      I didn’t clue in on that at all. Just went back, read it again, wow, you are so right.

      Thanks for the slap upside the head!

      Rod

      • Remy, Photographer & CEO of Cornerstone Creative

        Rod, Cath is always good for those slaps upside the head! They are much more painful in person. But you get the idea. xoxRem

  • Mariska

    Great ideas. Your post has also got me thinking of taking pictures with my phone this weekend while I am out. I rarely do this. Thanks!

    • Remy, Photographer & CEO of Cornerstone Creative

      Mariska – that is fantastic. Have a great time. Remy

  • Rod

    Remy,

    I enjoyed reading this, as always.

    Just in case a 2nd shooter I know missed it, I sent it on to her. In her case, I think you need to add one more instruction “duck~!” . (you know what I mean).

    What a great job you are doing, not only in working to reach your own dream but instructing/helping others to do the same.

    Your friend,
    Rod

    • Remy, Photographer & CEO of Cornerstone Creative

      Rod – Yes, maybe I’ll add a section called “what to listen for – uh, FORE!” Thanks for your comments – this is becoming one of my favorite things to do – almost as exciting as exotic pepper buying. Who knew that was my dream! xox Rem