What's a Second Shooter? | Wedding Day Tips, Photography Tips - manaliphotography.com
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What’s a Second Shooter? | Wedding Day Tips, Photography Tips

June 28, 2017

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I’m Manali
Brand photographer & educator based out of Northern VA & DC. When I'm not behind a camera or teaching about systems, you'll find me at a vineyard with wine & cheese or cuddled with my cat Keegan on our cozy couch!
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Often when I tell people that I second shoot weddings, I get funny faces and stares. A lot of people don’t know what that is, heck I didn’t know what that was until I started to get super into wedding photography. A second shooter is a photographer that accompanies the main photographer for the wedding day! Their job is to grab different angles of photographs, make sure every detail is covered, help out the main photographer with anything that they need throughout the day.

Why is it important to have a second shooter at your wedding?

While the main photographer is going to be in charge of calling all the shots and making sure that they have all the necessary pictures of details and family photos, the second photographer is in charge of grabbing shots of moments from different angles. This helps increase the amount of photos that are delivered to you as a client in your gallery, gets more variety of pictures as well as those candid shots of other guests that you want to have!

While the main photographer may be grabbing a picture of the bride and her father walking down the aisle, the second photographer will be capturing the face of the groom and his reaction watching his beautiful bride walk down. It’s impossible for the main photographer to be in two places at once and taking two pictures at the same time of different people in a room and this is where the second shooter helps out!

Although it may be pricier to have a second shooter included, you should ask your photographer for this option! If something happens to the main photographer, a second shooter steps in. If something unforeseen goes wrong with an SD card (may this never happen to anyone, but in case it does!) a second photographer has pictures throughout the day. You can’t repeat moments from the wedding day so it’s always good to have a back up.

What is the second shooter’s job throughout the day?

As a second shooter, my first and foremost job is to make sure that the main photographer has everything that they need. This can mean carrying around their bag of equipment, grabbing different lenses/flashes/batteries for them throughout the day, calling out the names of the members of the families for family formal pictures, bringing them water or food throughout the day, and being an extra eye. As a second photographer, when I’m not taking pictures, I am always looking out to make sure small details are in order such as the bride’s dress is fluffed at the bottom or a groom’s boutonniere is pinned on nicely. I also always try to help the photographer clear any clutter in a room that they are taking pictures in. All of these small tweaks that can be fixed during the wedding day allows the main photographer to take pictures with nice clean backgrounds, saving them hours while editing later and ultimately getting you your pictures back faster! Sometimes, you also get to act as a lighting testing model so that the first photographer can get their settings JUST right!

3. How do you become a second shooter?

When I first started out, I found photographers that had a kind of style that was something that I aspired to. I reached out to them and offered simply to carry equipment, lenses, bring them water, whatever they needed just to be able to come along and witness what it’s like as a photographer on a wedding day. A lot of people start this way and establish trust with the primary photographer until they are also given the responsibility of grabbing shots of more of the candid moments happening on a wedding day, covering the groom & groomsmen during the getting ready portion of the day, getting shots of families and guest during cocktail hour and more! I was lucky enough that Vanessa of Vanessa Smith Photography put her faith in me to have me second shoot at the first wedding I went along to after meeting her! I learned so much that day and have used things that I learned from then every other time I’ve second shot with her or other photographers.

And to top off the blog post, here’s some fun behind the scenes pictures of me as a second shooter at weddings! All photo credits go to Vanessa!

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