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Tuesday Tips for beginners – on second shooting

I’m SO thankful for the people who took me under their wing and allowed me to second shoot with them…I know that without a doubt I wouldn’t have been able to learn so much about shooting weddings or build confidence in myself if it weren’t for the photographers I’ve been able to shoot with who have poured so much knowledge into me. I’m still learning new things every time I shoot, but today I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve learned along the way that could help you be successful if you’re looking to second shoot. *I’m not an expert or saying that these tips are absolutely the right way to do things, and I’m sure some of these have been mentioned elsewhere before…these are just the things that have worked for me!

1. Invest time in learning your camera first…There are SO many photographers trying to be a part of the industry today, that experienced photographers have ALOT of people volunteering or offering to shoot with them…Before opportunities come for you to second shoot, you will likely have to spend time building a portfolio of portraits to be able to show photographers what your capable of and to make sure that they can trust that your style matches theirs.

2. Along the same lines, start saving for a quality camera…There’s obviously nothing wrong with learning on a starter camera…I learned on my mother-in-laws starter Nikon that she was kind enough to let me borrow for a long period of time! But once I knew I loved it, I started saving for a professional quality camera. I don’t think you can expect experienced photographers to hire you if your image quality is MUCH less than that of the main photographer’s due to the quality of your camera. (A work around for this could be finding a photographer who expects you to shoot with their equipment…from what I’ve heard though, these photographers normally don’t let you keep the images you take for your portfolio).

3. Remember that it’s not about you – When you’re second shooting, your number one focus should be on supporting the main photographer and making their life easier…They have a zillion things to focus on! So throughout the day I like to ask the main photographer I’m shooting with if they need anything (ie. water, if they need me to get something out of their car or carry something for them, etc.).

4. That being said, make sure you don’t ask TOO many questions throughout the day. It would likely get frustrating if you had someone asking you where to be or what to do every five minutes, when they’re trying to focus on their job. Discuss the day beforehand, and ask for their preferences and requests so that you are confident and know what you’re supposed to do on the day you second shoot.

5. On that note remember that although its tempting, second shooting is more so about supplementing the main photographer’s images and getting shots that they might miss than it is about building your own portfolio. I think this is a balance though. I’ve been blessed to shoot with people who support me too and really want me to grow and do well.

6. This means that sometimes you get less than ideal angles for pictures. But you also learn to find new angles that work! This has really taught me to be more creative. Sometimes when there really is only one angle (like you’re in a tight space), I think it’s okay to shoot from behind the main photographer. Just make sure to stay out of their way!

7. Dress appropriately – make sure you ask what the main photographer expects you to wear on the wedding day. Their expectations could vary based on how formal the wedding is. Think about their brand too. When you shoot with another photographer, you are an extension of their brand and represent their business.

8. Be professional and smile! Even when you think no ones watching you…

9. If the main photographer does a same day slideshow for their weddings…make sure you are ready to go should something need to be photographed while they are working on the slideshow…

10. Assist with Family Formal pictures…this can be one of the most challenging parts of the wedding day in my opinion…see if the main photographer wants you to hold onto the family portraits list and focus on gathering people, so that they can focus on posing and shooting.

11. Be a friend – one reason why some photographers I know hire seconds is because they like the company! Take an interest in the main photographer as a person, not just as a photographer.

12. Make sure you are 100% clear on what you are allowed to do with your images after the wedding…Are you allowed to use them in your portfolio? Can you put them on your blog? What about using them on Facebook? Ask for their rules in written form via email if they don’t have a contract so that you can refer back to it. Always respect their wishes even if you disagree with them.

Again, these are just the things I’ve learned along the way! If you’re a second shooter or a photographer who hires second shooters, I’d love to hear your opinions on these things or if you’ve picked up any other tips!

Shout out to the amazing photographers who have turned into amazing friends, Katie, Lauryn, and Ali, for giving me opportunities to second shoot with them and who have poured into me and my little business and life in so many ways! I’m so thankful for you girls!

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  1. Katie Nesbitt

    September 11th, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    Great tips, girl! And thanks for always being such an awesome friend and second shooter!

  2. Krista A. Jones

    September 11th, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    These are such great tips Annamarie! Especially the part about investing in a good camera. I have so many people who offer to second with me and only have a basic consumer quality camera. Their images just aren’t the same!

  3. Brittany Claud

    September 11th, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    Great post! I am just starting my business and will be reaching out to photographers so I can second shoot…thank for the tips!

  4. Melissa Cain

    September 11th, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    Thank you so much for your work too! We loved the photos <3

  5. Carrie Logan

    September 11th, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    love this!! and girl, quit calling this your “little business!” you are SO professional and good and experienced that you need to stop being so humble!! ;) xoxo

  6. Lauryn

    September 11th, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    I LOVE having you with me and that we have become friends!! :-) Thank you for all your hard work and great images. Love you girl!! So proud of what youre producing and how awesome you are!

  7. Abby Grace

    September 11th, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    Amen to #3! The few times I’ve had issues, the number one reason behind it is a failure to recognize that assisting is a humble position. I’ve been blessed with AWESOME seconds, but the two times I’ve had problems, it was due to the shooters putting their ego and their portfolios above the entire reason they’re there, which is to help me. Awesome post, girly!

  8. Serena Severtson

    September 11th, 2012 at 6:44 pm

    Really great tips, Annamarie! #3 and #12 are totally huge pointers that a lot of photographers don’t think about.

    Also, I really love that last set of images. Beautiful! :)

  9. ashley link

    September 11th, 2012 at 11:38 pm

    second shooting is an honor! i would love to second shoot for you one day if ya need someone. :) you learn so much and it’s a great experience! thanks for the tips!

  10. molly

    September 12th, 2012 at 7:15 am

    love this post, annamarie! even though i’m not a photographer, i feel like the tips can really be applied to ANYONE who is in ANY industry supporting someone – i love the part about learning to be creative with what you’re working with – what a great metaphor!

  11. Blythe K

    September 12th, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    Great post!! I love being a second and it’s so helpful when people post tips about it as well since everyone is different! I have learned so much in short amounts of time that way! One of my favorite things to do when space is tight or other angles just don’t work and I’m standing behind them is to make sure I’m using a different lens (my favorite go-to is the 85mm). The 85mm keeps me out of their way – I can stand a little behind them and they can move around while almost never showing in my frame – and I get a little bit of a different picture.

  12. KB

    October 25th, 2012 at 6:20 pm

    Absolutely fantastic tips. I have been thinking about second shooting and I learned so much from this one post. Thank you for sharing your knowledge.

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A glimpse into my daily life in Richmond, VA (and travels beyond) with my husband Ryan, our disobedient puppy Lexie, and the work, style and attempts at minimalism in between.


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