Dear all. It’s Monday again. I’m useless, I know. Yesterday was one of those days, you know, the ones where all you want to do is grab a duvet, some rubbish junk food and about a billion films. So that’s exactly what we did; working our way through National Treasure 1 & 2 (don’t judge), Planet Of The Apes (with Charlton) and then a terribly funny but not-to-be-admitted-to British TV series searching for a new talent.
However, what I want to discuss with you this week is quite photography-centred and hopefully will be of use to some. I’ve run Facebook groups for photographers over the past 16 months now and I’ve seen it asked time and time again for advice on how to be a great ‘second shooter’ at weddings.
To explain a little for those not in the industry, a second shooter is a photographer ‘hired’ by the first shooter (the one that you book) to assist them on the wedding day and for extra coverage. My thoughts on second shooters are slightly different from the norm and…. That’s a separate blog post for another time….
Anyway, I wanted to share it with you this week as I’ve been working alongside Gary on our first 2012 weddings and each time I work with another photographer I learn something new. It’s different for us given that we are in a relationship but I feel I’ve spent enough time now in different environments to be able to offer some gems of advice.
No 1. If you are looking to be a second shooter, contact photographers that you admire and respect directly and explain to them why you want to second shoot. Let them know what kit you have, show examples of your work and how you will be approaching your own weddings once you shoot them. This is key as a main photographer will be looking for confidence and a certainty in your approach. As much as they will offer you advice (or not!) they are bringing you along for you to take responsibility of yourself and get the best shots you can.
No 2. Try to meet the photographer beforehand. It’s always great to build connections and it’s pretty scary showing up on a wedding day to not be familiar with anybody there. Buy them their coffee! (ha ha..)
No 3. Get clear with them about payment. A lot of main photographers do utilise their second shooter (and will bring a professional that is already shooting weddings or has more experience) for the extra coverage benefit and therefore they ought to be paying you for your time. I wouldn’t blog any of my second shooters work (this does happen) and I’m bringing them purely if they want to come – NOT because I’m relying on them for anything so I will pay expenses but nothing more. This is how I learnt and purely my preference.
No 4. Ask for plans of the day. Be there (like in Devil Wears Prada) with the names of the main people involved on the day and try to get the timings in your head. The main photographer has to be in their own space to get the shots and although they will know all this beforehand, it’s great to have the extra brain/memory power. It also shows you are interested and this will reflect well with the main photographer.
No 5. Ask the main photographer for a handful of their business cards. Never give out your own, even if asked!
No 6. Sort out with the main photographer if you are bringing your own cards to shoot on and how you are going to get your images to them – if they need them. Occasionally a main photographer will give you a few of their cards and then you will choose which images you want of yours sent back from the proofing gallery they send to the couple. For me, this is a pain in the arse way of doing it but it depends on what the main photographer is bringing you for.
No 7. Never blog anything before them. Ideally you want to be blogging images that the bride and groom will see in their proofing gallery but again… this needs to be communicated with the main photographer. I would make clear to my clients that the photographer is coming to learn and gain more experience and that I will not use normally use their images. What you don’t want though is for the bride to see photographs on a second shooters blog which they would have liked to have been given the option to have from the main photographer. The main photographer should be speaking to their brides about this beforehand.
No 8. Try to always be one step ahead of them with regard to helping them put their bags somewhere safe/ask the reception venue staff for somewhere to sit during the meal that is close by so you are on hand for the speeches/getting glasses of water or knowing where useful bits of paper have been put.
No 9. Keep your eye on what lenses they are using and try to look for a different approach. I always leave Gary to get his shots in one location and I look for something I can be doing elsewhere. If I want the shots he was getting, I’ll come back later rather than get in the way. It’s all well and good to shoot for the main photographer but ideally you want to be learning and experiencing at the same time so try different things out. Unless you’re being paid to be a certain way as a second shooter, of course.
No 10. Bring a few tracker bars and some water. Be prepared for a long day! Most of all, enjoy yourself. Be involved and always be smiling.
I do hope that’s useful. Please share in the comments if you have any thoughts of your own on this!
Buffer! This was recommended to MG by somebody in a Facebook group and after a couple days tested and tried usage, he recommended it to me. Great platform for scheduling in Twitter and Facebook fan page updates to ensure even whilst on holiday you remain active online.
Love the detail and the narrative in this pre wedding shoot by Igor Demba.
Amazing pre-wedding shoot with gorgeous couple Laura and James, by my very own Marshal Gray. Totally inspiring.
Looking forward to making this poached egg and creme fraiche concoction with smoked salmon!
A wonderful member of my Facebook group has set me a super difficult and yet exciting photography challenge for this week which I will be posting next week. Stay tuned!
A big story this week - Facebook buys Instagram! I think this article about it is pretty interesting.
Success isn’t what’s in your bank account, but what’s in your head – great post on state of mind by Dawn Porter
PS… This is where I was at the beginning of this week :)