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Second Shooter Tips

03 November 2011

A couple weeks ago, I posted some tips on finding second shooter wedding jobs, and today I'm going to talk about some second shooter etiquette.
I really am big on etiquette.  I actually have a few etiquette books on my bookshelf at home, and teaching my 4 year manners is something I’ve been working on since he’s been able to walk.  So, today I thought I’d share some wedding photography second shooter etiquette. 

  1. Understand that you are representing the other photographer’s business.  The couple did not hire you to capture their wedding day the photographer did, whether the second shooter job is paid or not. 
  2. If somebody asks you for a business card, never give them your card.  Always give them the hired photographer’s business card.  Again, you’ve been hired to work for the photographer.
  3. Each photographer will work differently in how they want to handle the images that you’ve captured.  Some photographers will want to take your cards home that night and that’s okay. 
  4. Always allow the main photographer to post images before you do.  I know it’s exciting, but DO NOT go post images online for anybody to see until the main photographer says it’s okay. 
  5. Once you get the okay to post images, make sure you mention the principal photographer.  In my experience, I usually put something like, “by Laura Mae for Wedding Photographer Photography”.  Check with the principal photographer on what they want you to do.
  6. Never ever ever tag people in the photos or friend them on any social networking site.  You do not get to become friends with the couple or wedding guests.  That privilege is given to the main photographer.
  7. Be willing to do anything the principal photographer needs you to do.  Do they need you to carry a step stool for them so that they can get the photos they want to get?  Do it.  Do they need you to carry their bags?  Do it.  Do they need you to get a plate of food for them so they can do something?  Do it.
  8. Don’t shoot over the main photographer’s shoulder.  They don’t need the same shots they are already getting.  Sure, it would be great to get that shot of the couple looking at the camera, but guess what?  You’re there to help the photographer.  Look for fresh angles and different view points. 
  9. Be on time.  The photographer is already stressed enough.  Don’t add to that stress by being late.  If something happens that you can’t control, make sure you have the photographers cell number handy to call them.
  10. If something is frustrating you, put on a smile and move on.  Don’t complain to anybody about anything.  A wedding is one of the happiest days of a couple’s life and it’s your job to help the main photographer add joy to that day.  Giving off a negative vibe is not good for business.
Many of these may seem like no brainers, but you’d be surprised.  I’ve heard lots of stories of photographers having horrible second shooter experiences.  Don’t add another bad story to the pile.  Being a second shooter is a privilege and benefits both of you.  In most circumstances, you get to build your portfolio with the images and you are gaining hands on experience, which is priceless.  Put yourself in the shoes of the main photographer…what kind of behavior would you expect out of a second shooter if it were your business?

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