How to be the Best Second Shooter

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As a wedding photographer, having a second shooter is essential! This post is all about how to be the best second shooter possible! I personally love having 1 or 2 second shooters that work with me throughout the year because I believe this builds trust and friendship. A few benefits from consistently working together is you already know who they are as a person, how they are to work with, you’re able to communicate what you loved last time and what you want improved for next time, and you don’t have to prep them before each wedding, other than the small details, because they already know what you expect of them.

If you’re looking to become a second shooter and you’re unsure what exactly a second shooter does. This is the blog post for you! Here are a list of tips on how to be the best second shooter.


When the photographer wants you to begin at 1pm, don’t show up at 1:15pm, or even 1:00pm. Show up 15 minutes early so you can get the memory cards, meet the bride, and begin promptly at 1pm.


There are so many ways you can help other than photographing. Carrying bags/ equipment/ lights, grabbing MIA family members, and keeping the lead photographer hydrated. Second shooters that stick out to me are the ones who go above and beyond. For example, one who sees me moving chairs and prepping spaces hops in and helps rather than a second shooter who sees me moving things around and stands back and watches.


One of my favorite things I love having my second shooter do is photograph behind the scenes images of me in action. However, some photographers don’t care about this so ask the lead photographer if they would like a few BTS images or video clips for reels.


The lead photographer should have given you a timeline with certain images that must be taken in a certain period of time. Make sure you’re staying on top of the timeline to ensure all images get captured instead of letting time get away and those images never get captured.


If the lead photographer is photographing wide, shoot with a telephoto. Photograph side shots or detail shots. Never photograph the same angle as the lead photographer. The lead photographer already has that shot and needs your assistance with different views.


Through the day, when the lead photographer is photographing be aware where they are and don’t be across from the photographer therefore getting in their images. The bride doesn’t want to see you in the background of her images.


When you arrive at a wedding, try to remind the lead photographer to sync cameras. I always forget this so I ask my second shooters to remind me. This way all of your cameras will be set to the same time making it easier to edit later. It’s like when the power goes out and all the clocks in your home are different times. You want to set them all to the same time.


Wedding days are super fast and sometimes the lead photographer may not notice little things. If you notice a crooked tie, a brides dress needs fluffed, grandma is hanging on tight to her purse, hop right in to help adjust those details. The lead photographer will certainly take notice and appreciate you gong above and beyond.


Always photograph in RAW. If you shoot in JPEG, I can guarantee you won’t be asked to second shoot again.


– Dress Professionally. I feel like everyone knows this but I’ve heard stories! I personally always wear dark colors (honestly because it hides sweat) and make sure that I’m fully covered when I bend in any direction.
– No Soliciting. Never solicit business at a wedding. You’re there to help the photographer, not to market yourself. Ethically, that’s not ok.
– Social Media Faux Pas. Speaking of ethics, don’t friend or tag the bride, groom, or bridal party on any social media platform. You were not their wedding photographer. They don’t want a friend request from a random person. Tagged them on social media is not necessary as you were not their wedding photographer.
– No Phones. Don’t constantly be checking your phone. It just doesn’t look professional. If you need to check your phone do it out of sight from guests.
– Issues. If any issues arise with guests, the bridal party, or any vendors ALWAYS let the lead photographer know so they can take care of the issue. Don’t try taking care of it yourself. Remember you are a contractor for the lead photographer and represent their brand.


If you’re a second shooter looking to get into the wedding photography industry, here are a few questions you should ask the photographer before committing to working together.

Can images taken be used for my portfolio? Some lead photographers do not allow their second shooters to use any images they take for their portfolio. I personally wouldn’t want to photograph for a lead photographer who wouldn’t allow me to use my own images. For this reason, I allow my second shooters to use the images they take on wedding days in their portfolio. The only thing I ask is that second shooters not tag the client in any social media and they write “shot with Sarah Botta Photography” or something along those lines in anything that’s posted.

How much is the rate per hour and how/ when will you get paid. The rate for second shooters ranges from $20-$75 or more per hour depending on your skill level, involvement on the wedding day, and where you’re located. A beginner photographer would most likely receive $20 an hour; whereas, a seasoned photographer who is capable of photographing, posing, and directing on their own would receive $50 an hour. All second shooters should get paid at the end of the night either by cash, check, Venmo, or Paypal. I personally bring a check for my second shooters to easily keep track of business expenses. If I forget to bring the check, I make sure it’s in the mail first thing on Monday.

Will you use your memory cards or the photographers? Every photographer is different but the easiest way for me is to have my second shooters use my memory cards and hand the card over at the end of the night. This way, I don’t need to worry about bringing my laptop and downloading their images before they head out. They simply give me back the memory card. In newer DSLR cameras, they have duel memory card slots, making it easy for the second shooter to also photograph on their own memory card.

One of the most important things to do as a second shooter is to have fun. Do your job well but always make it fun!


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