So you’ve been an Awesome Assistant for a while and taking lots of photos of your own. You’ve had some small paying jobs and know some of the ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ of the industry by now. You have your own equipments and a website/blog that showcases your work – paid or otherwise – and you’re keen on taking your skills further, honing your obvious talent…
Sounds like you need to start being a Super Second Shooter!
Second shooting with a good photographer is a superb way to start getting some hands-on, real-time experience of working in your field. You’ll be able to shoot in a variety of situations (that you normally wouldn’t have access to) and if you are sharing equipment with your photographer, then you’ll have a chance to work with new lenses and broaden your scope and approach.
As we discussed in Being an Awesome Assistant, pick the photographers you approach wisely and make sure that you have lots of great work to show them. They will be more likely to choose you if they feel your styles are similar and that you have something to add to their own work. It’s as much about benefiting them as it is about benefiting you – keep that in mind.
If they don’t have an assistant on the shoot, then your job will encompass a lot of that role as well as taking shots the photographer isn’t there to get – so be prepared for a busy, busy day! While the shots you take could be useful for your experience, your primary role is to be an aide to the photographer. Your work is there to back theirs up, not copy it. You won’t be taking the bride’s portrait, you’ll be taking photos of the parents watching as the photographer takes the bride’s portrait. You won’t be up at the altar, you’ll be taking crowd shots from the door – see where I’m going? You’re the second pair of eyes, you’re the arty angle, you’re the granny snapper, so make sure she looks awesome and the bride (and photographer) will thank you forever.
If your photographer is kind enough to let you take some bridal portraits or other high-profile shots, remember that while this is good experience for you, you won’t necessarily be allowed to use them in your own portfolio. After all, you are there to take shots for your photographer.
This is something you should speak about before the shoot as it varies from person to person, but it’s necessary that you respect their wishes – this is their gig and your time will come.
Some important topics to discuss before the shoot:
- How much will you get paid (this isn’t a rent paying job, it’s an opportunity)?
- What kind of usage will you be allowed to have from the shots you take? Portfolio? Blog only? What credit is needed for the primary photographer?
- What should you wear?
- What equipment should you bring?
- How long will you be expected to stay?
- What happens to the images after the shoot?
I can now see how second shooters can be beneficial and a great help to the main photographer on a wedding day.
- Try to find unique and interesting angles (not behind the main photographers shoulder!)
- A second shooter should always give out the main photographers card to guests when asked.
- Communicate with the main photographer. If you are in separate locations during the day, always let the main photographer know where and when you will be at places.
- Make sure you know the schedule of the day, where you need to be and when.
All these things and more will vary from photographer to photographer, so it’s good to know where you stand before things get complicated. This is also a time to learn how different photographers approach their work and business.
I’ve loved assisting and I’ve loved second shooting, and if you have a passion for photography and are committed to a long term, serious, monogamous relationship with your camera, then I can’t recommend both highly enough!
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