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How To Be an Incredible Second Shooter

November 10, 2017

As a Calgary wedding photographer, I’m almost consistently on the hunt for the “perfect fit” for myself and my brand. I’ve had the absolute privilege of photographing over 100 special days and worked with a handful (plus some) of second shooters. While most of them have been absolutely incredible, I thought I would put together a little guide full of tips that I could send them during the wedding day. If you’re just starting out and you’re looking to second shoot, read these and apply them to your own second shooting work!

1. Better early than late. Plan to leave 30-45 minutes earlier than needed – you never know what kind of traffic or mishaps you’ll run in to. If you end up being 30 minutes early, you can always grab a coffee and hang out in your car for a bit!

2. Do not advertise yourself. When you’re second shooting, you’re working for the person who hired you. When someone asks who you’re working for, you should always point out the main photographer. My usual choice of words is “I’m working under Nicole Delaine, today!”

3. Don’t add the bride and groom or anyone in the wedding party/family on your Facebook/Instagram/social media. I’m not sure why you would, but the main photographer has worked very hard to build and maintain a good relationship with these people. If you get along with them at the wedding, great, but please leave it at that.

4. Narrow down what you’re shooting. This rule will change depending on the photographer you’re working with, but personally, I don’t like getting more than 500 images back from my second photographer. I am confident that I am more than capable of photographing a wedding all on my own (I do it often!) so for me a second shooters images don’t usually get delivered, which means I don’t like to go through more of their images than I have to!

5. Dress appropriately! I try and dress like I’m a guest. Black is fine, colour is fine – that’s all up to you. But please, do not show up in jeans or leggings and a cropped t-shirt (yes, this happened!). In addition, maintain your personal hygiene. This is a wedding, not a Sunday to do groceries on.

6. Don’t drink alcohol. Yes, most weddings will have wine on the tables or servers bringing you wine. Either say “no, thank you!” or tip your wine glass upside down. 99.9% of jobs in the world do not allow you to drink while you’re working, the same translates to this job.

7. Don’t shoot over my shoulder unless I ask you to. Latching onto #4, I don’t need duplicates of what I’m shooting.

8. Refrain from asking questions about your gear or business practices in front of guests and the couple. I am all for learning while you’re working and I will do everything in my power to help you grow, but there is a time and a place.

9. Come with your own copy of the timeline. I will always send you a copy of the timeline (or a version of your own) before the wedding. Please print this out and come with it.

10. Make sure you are shooting in RAW. Double check your camera before the wedding, because it’s so so easy for this setting to get bumped.

11. Give your lead photographer updates on time! So often while shooting a wedding I lose track of time, but I love to make sure we stay on schedule. It really helps when my second shooter/assistant gives me quick updates like “Hey Nicole, it’s 6:03, we have to leave here in 12 minutes to get to XXX”.

12. Send your main photographer an invoice, or come with one! I know personally my accountant would be less than happy if  I just started throwing money around without an invoice or receipt!

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