After speaking with several lead photographers, it occurred to photographer Emily McGonigle that a lot of second shooters out there don’t know what it means to be a second shooter at a wedding.
A quick online search showed her that online guides for second shooters tend to be written from the perspective of the lead photographer.
Describing herself as “strictly a second shooter“, she has shared with Bokeh ten important considerations that she believes make the difference between a doing an passable job and getting repeat work.
Don’t forget whose gig it is
Don’t talk to the client about your own photography business. If they ask, never hand them a business card, show them your website, or mention specifics.
Don’t get in the way
The lead’s shots are more important than yours. Don’t get in their way just to ‘get the shot’.
Don’t engage with the guests after the party ends
If clients seek you out and add you on Facebook, contact the lead photographer and ask them what they would like you to do.
Don’t use the work for your main portfolio
Never use the images in your main portfolio. After the lead photographer has posted them and is finished with their client, blog with them if you wish but always specify that you were the second shooter at the wedding, and be sure to mention who the lead photographer was.
Help the lead be in two places at once
Capture as many details as possible
Anticipate the lead’s needs before they do—be proactive
Don’t wait to be asked to do what you can see needs to be done, be the lead’s second set of eyes.
Shoot a different focal length than the lead
If the lead is shooting the first dance with a 70-200, you should shoot with your 24-70. If they’re getting wider shots of the ceremony, get tight shots of the bride and grooms expressions. Help them offer as much variety as possible to their client.
In addition to short and long focal length lenses, some people will want to get macro lenses for close detail shots. As McGonigle is primarily a portait photographer she is content to work without. One essential is a flash, and knowing how to use it to combat the less-than-perfect lighting you’re bound to be up against in some venues.
Check out the complete guide on McGonigle’s webpage, and let her know if you feel she has missed any!