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Second Shooter Etiquette 


the DOs

+ ARRIVE ON TIME

+ SYNC YOUR CAMERAS BEFORE THE WEDDING

+ BE AWARE OF HOW MANY PHOTOS ARE LEFT ON YOUR CF CARD...BE PREPARED, AND DON’T GIVE REASON TO STOP

+ OFFER TO SET UP LIGHT STANDS, UMBRELLAS, SOFT BOXES, SO THE FIRST PHOTOGRAPHER CAN THINK ABOUT WHAT’S NEXT

+ RUN AHEAD AND DO WHAT YOU CAN TO PREP THE NEXT AREA IF YOU’RE SHOOTING IN DIFFERENT LOCATIONS WHILE FIRST PHOTOGRAPHER IS FINISHING UP IN LAST SPOT

+ OFFER CLEAR ADVICE AND SOLID OPINIONS WHEN ASKED FOR THEM

+ NOTICE THE THINGS THE FIRST PHOTOGRAPHER DOESN’T SEEM EXCITED TO HANDLE 

+ STAY BUSY...OR AT LEAST LOOK LIKE YOU ARE

+ TAKE/OFFER FOOD AND WATER THROUGHOUT THE DAY FOR THE FIRST PHOTOGRAPHER

+ LOOK BUSY WHEN THE OTHER PHOTOGRAPHER SITS DOWN FOR A BREAK

+ TEST YOUR EQUIPMENT THE NIGHT BEFORE

+ SHOOT THE WEDDING LIKE IT WAS YOUR OWN... AND YOU HAD TO EDIT IT

+ GIVE CREDIT TO THE MAIN PHOTOGRAPHER AND LIST YOU WERE SECOND SHOOTING

+ GET CREATIVE

+ TAKE TEST SHOTS BEFORE THE FIRST LOOK, CEREMONY, FIRST DANCES ON A WEDDING AND KNOW YOUR MARK

+ MAKE EYE CONTACT OFTEN

+ GRAB THE VALET TICKET WHILE THE FIRST IS CLEARING UP FOR THE NIGHT

+ TAKE OVER, WHETHER IT’S ASKING THE COORDINATOR A QUESTION OR HELPING WAYWARD KIDS LOOK AT THE CAMERA


the DON'Ts

+ GET IN FIRST PHOTOGRAPHER’S LINE OF SIGHT

+ STAND RIGHT BEHIND FIRST PHOTOGRAPHER

+ USE FLASH UNLESS IT’S NECESSARY

+ FORGET EVERYTHING YOU DO IS A REFLECTION OF THE MAIN PHOTOGRAPHER’S BUSINESS

+ CHEW GUM

+ OFFER YOUR SERVICES TO THE MAIN PHOTOGRAPHER’S CLIENTS AT THE WEDDING

+ TAKE THE BRIDE AND GROOM OFF TO TAKE FORMAL PHOTOS OF YOUR OWN

+ CHECK YOUR PHONE IN FRONT OF GUESTS

+ GET DRUNK

+ PICK UP ON WEDDING GUESTS

+ WHINE TO GUESTS

+ EAT COCKTAIL HOUR FOOD

+ LOOK BORED

+ STOP TAKING PHOTOS IF YOU’RE UNINSPIRED

+ HAND OUT YOUR PERSONAL BUSINESS CARD 

+ TALK TOO MUCH TO CLIENTS. A LITTLE BIT IS OKAY, BUT NO HORROR STORIES OR LONG CONVERSATIONS.

+ SPEND THE DAY OFFERING TOO MUCH UNSOLICITED ADVICE.

+ TRY TO CONVINCE THE MAIN PHOTOGRAPHER HE’S DOING SOMETHING WRONG

+ BE WHINY IF YOU MAKE SUGGESTIONS AND THEY AREN’T ADHERED TO OR YOUR CREATIVITY IS BEING SQUELCHED

+ POST THE IMAGES BEFORE THE MAIN SHOOTER HAS A CHANGE TO POST THEM


Pre Wedding Day Checklist

 

The day before the wedding, I have a checklist of things I do and I’ll walk through what they are:

 

+ CHECK GEAR AND ENSURE WE HAVE EVERYTHING

+ CHARGE BATTERIES

Camera, video lights, computer

+ CHANGE BATTERIES

Flash, pocket wizard

+ CLEAN LENSES AND CAMERAS

+ REFORMAT CF CARDS

+ MAKE SURE ALL PREVIOUS PHOTOS HAVE BEEN  DOWNLOADED/BACKED UP

+ PACK BAGS

+ ENSURE ITINERARY IS IN BAG

 

I usually do this on Friday afternoon, so I can relax on Friday night. When we wake up on Saturday, I tie up loose ends and pack the car. We don’t want to be stressed out before we leave and I’ve discovered being organized helps minimize the drama.

 

Top 10 Second Shooter Tips


(1) Dress appropriately

Don't be afraid to ask what to wear on the wedding day. Some weddings are casual, others more formal. The most important thing is to always be a reflection of the main photographer's attire and blend in with guests as much as possible. 


(2) Gather The Family

It's so important to help the main photographer during family formal photos. There's a really short amount of time to execute the photos, so be sure to find grandma and Uncle Kevin (who's usually at the bar) so the entire group isn't waiting for one person. 


(3) Taking Care Of Vendors

During a wedding day, we usually don't have time to cultivate friendships, but we always make sure to include every vendor through the day. If they need anything, offer assistance. If the vendor dinner is served, we try to make sure everyone knows. Its small things that ensure everyone feels like we're not he same team. . . and there's high probability we'll work together again in the future, so make sure to have everyone's back. 


(4) Offer to Carry Bags

I'm kinda particular about this because it reminds me of my role as a second shooter. . . to make life easier for the main shooter. I'm not saying every second photographer MUST carry the bags, but it's nice to offer. I always carry and maintain the main photo bag on wedding days and I know he/she appreciates it. 


(5) Get Water

Peak wedding season is during the hottest time of the year, so keeping ourselves hydrated is very important. I always make sure the main photographer has a cold glass of water waiting for them (1) Before the ceremony; (2) After the ceremony; and (3) After cocktail hour. Usually these are the hottest (and most stressful) times outdoors because there's so much juggling going on. Every time they finish their glass, they're recharged (and in a better mood!).


(6) Smile

Always remember that guests are looking at us even when we don't realize it and we're a reflection of the bride's desire of having us document her dream day. If we look hot, unhappy, tired, or annoyed, it'll be a poor reflection on our brand. I'll admit it's sometimes hard to smile after hearing We Are Family . . . I've got all my sisters with me! for the thousandth time that month. Hehe. 


(7) Find New Angles

Don't shoot over the main photographer's shoulder! When I first started second shooting, I shot behind the main photographer and captured - basically- the same photo as they did. Okay, just not as cool. She finally explained that she didn't need another version of her photo ... she needs an entirely new photo of the same moment. I'll admit this is harder than it seems, but I know she appreciates creativity and a different photo from the exact same moment.  


(8) Never Pass Out Your Business Card

One of our first weddings we photographed together, we had another photographer tag along with us. The night was flowing nicely until I overheard the third shooter pass his/her business card to a wedding guest . . and passed his/her studio name along. I can't explain how rude this is. On a wedding day, a second and third photographer is just that . . an accompanying photographer to the main photographer's studio. If a guest asks for a business card from a second shooter (which happens often!), the second shooter should always pass along the main photographer's business card. Period. The end. 


(9) When in Doubt, Ask

We know that becoming familiar with another photographers workflow (and gear) can be a little tricky. I remember my dad always saying "Do the job right the first time, or do even do it at all". So don't be afraid to ask, we are always ready to answer any questions you may have.


(10) Leave Your Ego At The Door

This doesn't need much of an explanation as it's more a rule for life in general. Just remember, as a second shooter, your number one goal is to shoot the best you can and make the main photographer's life easier . . . even if it means missing the best photo opportunity at the wedding. Yes, everyone prefers to shoot the bride getting ready, the bride and groom portrait, and getting the First Kiss standing in the center of the aisle. But chances are, it ain't gonna be like that. So own what you got and make it work. Just have fun and do great work. 

 

Post Wedding

AFTER THE WEDDING, IT’S IMPORTANT TO ENSURE ALL YOUR BASES ARE COVERED. When we travel home from a wedding, we usually bring a hard drive and transfers the images to it on the ride home. This means that by the time we park in our garage, all the wedding images are backed up. 

If you’re a second shooter and drove your own car to the wedding, the first thing you want to do when you get home is back up the images. You’re responsible for the images you capture, so take it seriously. We would prefer all the images given to us the night of the wedding. Most of the time we will issue one of our personal memory cards for you to use. If not, we will need time to copy your cards to our hard drive. 

If you used our gear at the wedding, be sure to wipe down the gear, replace the caps on the lenses, and organize your CF cards in a way that makes sense and identifies them as yours. Basically, you want to leave the gear just as nice (or nicer) than you found it. 

Send us email asking for feedback on ways you can improve as a second shooter. Or you can make a list of questions to ask the first shooter. A lot of times primary photographers don’t give feedback because they don’t know how. If you ask or make them feel like it’s okay, there’s a higher chance of getting an honest opinion.