1. Be prepared and show up early
Communication is key when second shooting! Talk to the lead and get the photo timeline for the day and clarify what your responsibilities will be for the day and what they will be looking for. It’s always great if you show up about 15 minutes early before start time in order to meet up with your lead and get situated.
2. Sync camera times with the main photographer
On a busy day, this is one of the first things I forget to do. So it’s always super helpful when my second shooter reminds me to sync up and it saves me time in editing.
3. Make your images different
Shoot on a different focal length from the lead photographer and make sure to check in and ask what lens they would prefer you to be shooting on for that portion of the day. Always aim to have your photos look different than theirs! Get creative and bring images to the table that are different and add value.
4. Be helpful and attentive to details
It’s so helpful to have two pairs of eyes looking for things that might need fixing throughout the day. If you see that the dress or veil might need fluffing or the tie is crooked, hopping in to fix those details is appreciated!
5. Stay out of shots
Always try your best to be aware of where the lead photographer is and what direction they are shooting in order to stay out of the background
6. Don’t shoot for yourself.
I understand when you are starting out, it might be tempting to do this. However, a couple’s wedding day is not the time to shoot for yourself and your portfolio. It’s about the couple and helping me capture the day fully for them, by helping in any way you can.
7. Get killer groom getting ready photos and groomsmen photos.
One of the most important things that my second photographers handle is the groom’s getting ready shots and the groomsmen photos. Being confident in your ability to pose and direct them, and getting me a bunch of solid images with variety for this portion of the day is amazing.
8. Keep your eyes open and camera ready for candids!
The best second shooters are also keyed into the little candids going on throughout the day, like parent reactions during a ceremony, guest reactions during speeches, people enjoying themselves during cocktail hour and more! These moments are precious and some of my favorites, so I love having my seconds look out for them as well while I am taking more formal photographs.
9. Keep your lead photographer hydrated
Wedding days can get dehydrating quickly. While I try my best to bring water with me, in all the craziness I often don’t find the time to actually stay hydrated. It’s so helpful if my second shooter keeps an eye out for self-serve water stations or bar while I am busy.
10. Respect their sharing rules
Each photographer has different rules on if/when and how you can use the photos you’ve taken while second shooting. Read through your contract with the lead photographer or make sure to clarify before sharing anything, and always share with proper credit! Most photographers request something along the lines of “Second Shot for @yourleadphotographer”
Bonus! Get behind the scenes phone videos of the main photographer if you can throughout the day. Not only is the footage fun to see from a second shooter POV, but it also helps us share the photos more successfully later on platforms like Instagram Reels and Tiktok.