What can you offer as a second shooter (weddings)

kathyt

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After reading and commenting on this thread, http://www.thephotoforum.com/forum/general-shop-talk/304324-photographing-weddings.html, I thought I had read or someone had mentioned that it is so hard to find anyone willing to let them second shoot at any weddings so where could they get any experience? It might have been on another thread, but anyways it brought up a good point and I thought I would throw a few things out there as someone who hires a second shooter for every wedding I book. I happen to use the same second shooter for all of my weddings, yes I lucked out, but for most photographers this is not the case.
So, as a primary shooter what would I be looking for in a second shooter?

1. technical ability-show me what you have done. website, blog, portfolio, is it consistantly good across the board, is the style similar to mine?
2. gear-what are they shooting with? VERY IMPORTANT TO ME!!!!! full frame? quality lenses? wide variety of lenses? speed lights? batteries? Anything they can bring to the table that I don't have?
3. Professionalism? They either have it or they don't. Do they have references? What is their past wedding experiences? If this is their first wedding are they asking to be paid? Have they shadowed before?
4. Are they in business? Are they planning on taking on weddings in the future? You obviously don't want a second shooter who lives in the same town promoting him or herself during your functions and under your name.
5. Are they willing to sign a second shooter contract? My second shooter must sign a contract for every single wedding and there is no exception.
6. Are they willing to abide by my guidelines on how they can use the images they shot from the wedding? This is a BIG one!!!!! I get the CF cards from my second shooter at the end of the evening.
7. What does this individual have to offer? Do we mesh well?

So these are just a few things I thought I would throw out there for anyone looking to second shoot. I would love for other primary shooters to add to this list or to mention things they might do differently to help other members out who might be looking to second shoot in the future.
 

Big Mike

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That's a great list.
Although, I don't consider the gear to be 'very important'. As long as it's a DSLR and they know how to use it....that's usually good enough. It's not often that a 2nd shooter's photo is one that needs to be blown up to 16x20 etc.

Another point is: Are they capable of handling the wedding (taking it over) if the main photographer can't?
A lot of 2nd shooters are there as assistants or in a learning/mentoring capacity, which is great...but part of the reason for a true '2nd' shooter is redundancy. If something happens and the first shooter can't get the job done, can the second get fill in and do it up to the standards of the main (or close)?

I have a few (really good) photographers around here who hire me as a second shooter from time to time. The main reason being that I could, if called upon, shoot the wedding completely on my own. Another reason might be that I can do just about whatever is required, without supervision/instruction. For example, one wedding required a lot of lighting to be set up for the reception, but it had to be done right after the ceremony. So while the main photographer (and his two assistants) were out shooting the formals, I was left to set up the lighting and take detail shots etc.
He also calls me when he's sick (usually in a panic on a Thursday or Friday) asking if I'm available for Saturday...if he is feeling too crappy to get out of bed.

So going back to the equipment issue. If it's just a second shooter and the main is there and working...I don't think the equipment matters as much. But if you need them there as your backup, then it's certainly more important.

Another point, I just though of...are they willing to do whatever is needed? I've heard a few photographers talk about hard it is to 'get good help'. Some just want to shoot and nothing else. Especially if the pro is allowing them to use their own photos.
When I'm hired to be a second shooter, it's all hands on deck. If I need to be holding a reflector or light stand, that's what I do. If I just need to carry the bags & gear while the other photog shoots...then that's what I do. If I need to herd relatives/tourists in and out of the picture....
 

pixmedic

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On the flip side, here is what i expect from a photographer hiring me as a second...

Expectations in writing. A good contract is as important to me as a second as it is to the main. For mostly the same reasons.
Proper time management. Dont hire me for 4 hours, but suddenly expect me to stay for 8-10 without any consideration for our original agreement. Im always willing to work something out if the situation changes, just talk to me first.

Respect is a two way street. I understand you are the main and i am little more than slave labor, and it's your show. At least have the courtesy to be respectful in front of the clients.

Respect my equipment. If u need to use something i have, thats fine. Ask first, i paid for it. And treat it like YOU paid for it.
Also, your not taking my memory cards home, so bring some for me, or use my laptop to burn them to disk.

Communicate. Im not a mind reader. When you work with different mains, everyone has a different flow. Explaining yours ahead of time is a good thing.
 

camz

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I keep it simple. My second shooters have their own photography business and are typically primary shooters for the most part. I also second shoot for them if they need help - friends within the circle.

So, the best second shooters I find actually are primary wedding photographer's themselves IMHO. Make it simple as they'll know where your coming from. Also, they might be cheaper as we often help each other for free.
 

jhodges10

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Thanks Kathy, this is already very informative and helpful. I'm with Pix on the card thing though, I wouldn't want to send a couple hundred bucks of my gear home with anyone unless I knew them really well. I had a friend help me with the one wedding I did and I gave her one of my cards to use for specifically that reason and got it back from her before she left.
 

jhodges10

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camz said:
I keep it simple. My second shooters have their own photography business and are typically primary shooters for the most part. I also second shoot for them if they need help - friends within the circle.

So, the best second shooters I find actually are primary wedding photographer's themselves IMHO. Make it simple as they'll know where your coming from. Also, they might be cheaper as we often help each other for free.

So the rest of us that are interested in getting into the business are left out in the cold. Thanks for all your help Camz. In case you hadnt noticed most, if not all of the primary shooters suggest second shooting/assisting before hanging out a shingle. If all you do is bring other primaries you're not adding anything to the thread.
 

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camz said:
I keep it simple. My second shooters have their own photography business and are typically primary shooters for the most part. I also second shoot for them if they need help - friends within the circle.

So, the best second shooters I find actually are primary wedding photographer's themselves IMHO. Make it simple as they'll know where your coming from. Also, they might be cheaper as we often help each other for free.

So the rest of us that are interested in getting into the business are left out in the cold. Thanks for all your help Camz. In case you hadnt noticed most, if not all of the primary shooters suggest second shooting/assisting before hanging out a shingle. If all you do is bring other primaries you're not adding anything to the thread.

Remember the thread isn't talking about mentors/internships/apprenticing or whatever you want to call it. It's specifically talking about a second shooter, a second photographer at the event. Generally speaking if you're going to be a proper second shooter you've already got to be a shooter - that is you've already got to have some of the skills to be reliable. That's the difference between a second shooter and an intern/student/apprentice type relationship.

The kind of second shooter that the opening post is talking about is someone reliable who knows the score, or at least has enough experience to be reliable. Not someone who is still green around the ears and needs monitoring or guidance or who might only be trustable with a simple pre-setup situation (eg shooting the arrival photos as people turn up).
 

jhodges10

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Overread said:
Remember the thread isn't talking about mentors/internships/apprenticing or whatever you want to call it. It's specifically talking about a second shooter, a second photographer at the event. Generally speaking if you're going to be a proper second shooter you've already got to be a shooter - that is you've already got to have some of the skills to be reliable. That's the difference between a second shooter and an intern/student/apprentice type relationship.

The kind of second shooter that the opening post is talking about is someone reliable who knows the score, or at least has enough experience to be reliable. Not someone who is still green around the ears and needs monitoring or guidance or who might only be trustable with a simple pre-setup situation (eg shooting the arrival photos as people turn up).

Item 3 from the OP:

3. Professionalism? They either have it or they don't. Do they have references? What is their past wedding experiences? If this is their first wedding are they asking to be paid? Have they shadowed before?

Agreed its not about mentoring but my understanding is that the thread was started to help inform a couple of us that we're discussing what to do and how to do it to become a second shooter. If I was already a primary shooter I wouldn't need to figure out what others want from me to be their second shooter. The OP is trying to give info to those of us interested in seconding, which I greatly appreciate (you too Big Mike) so Camz response is a bit out of context. For me to second shoot for him I'd already need to be in business, thus his response adds nothing to this thread.
 

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After reading and commenting on this thread, http://www.thephotoforum.com/forum/general-shop-talk/304324-photographing-weddings.html, I thought I had read or someone had mentioned that it is so hard to find anyone willing to let them second shoot at any weddings so where could they get any experience? It might have been on another thread, but anyways it brought up a good point and I thought I would throw a few things out there as someone who hires a second shooter for every wedding I book. I happen to use the same second shooter for all of my weddings, yes I lucked out, but for most photographers this is not the case.
So, as a primary shooter what would I be looking for in a second shooter?

1. technical ability-show me what you have done. website, blog, portfolio, is it consistantly good across the board, is the style similar to mine? I am ok with a complimenting style as well, but it has to mesh well.
2. gear-what are they shooting with? VERY IMPORTANT TO ME!!!!! full frame? quality lenses? wide variety of lenses? speed lights? batteries? Anything they can bring to the table that I don't have? I prefer that they are using Canon gear because I shoot canon and have extra gear, but I'll take on someone shooting anything if they have adequate gear.
3. Professionalism? They either have it or they don't. Do they have references? What is their past wedding experiences? If this is their first wedding are they asking to be paid? Have they shadowed before?
4. Are they in business? Are they planning on taking on weddings in the future? You obviously don't want a second shooter who lives in the same town promoting him or herself during your functions and under your name.
5. Are they willing to sign a second shooter contract? My second shooter must sign a contract for every single wedding and there is no exception. with a non-compete clause?
6. Are they willing to abide by my guidelines on how they can use the images they shot from the wedding? This is a BIG one!!!!! I get the CF cards from my second shooter at the end of the evening.
7. What does this individual have to offer? Do we mesh well?

So these are just a few things I thought I would throw out there for anyone looking to second shoot. I would love for other primary shooters to add to this list or to mention things they might do differently to help other members out who might be looking to second shoot in the future.

#8: are they willing to do a good portion of the crap work. Holding the reflector, moving equipment and generally be an assistant first and foremost, shooter second.

#9:portfolio Images: If they are trying to build a wedding portfolio I tell a shooter that they will get 10 images with a model release AFTER everything is delivered and done. I'll give them all of their images down the line, but I don't let them know this at the onset. If they are looking for a way to build their portfolio and get paid doing it they'll go away right then. I have no problem building someone's portfolio, but I don't want to get screwed either... So I weed them out as best I can.

#10: If I sell their images they do not get paid an additional amount. If one of their images gets printed as a 20x30 framed canvas and I make a great profit out of it it's my business... I get the profit. This is another way of weeding for me. I have never sold a big piece of a second shooter's, but if I did I would actually give them a % as a courtesy. They just don't know that.


My number 1 requirement is a personality I can work with. I can be easy going and fun, but I HAVE to like the person who is shooting for me. I don't mind teaching someone who isn't as advanced if they are someone I can work well with. My theory is when I train them I am teaching them to shoot my way and it will go better than an advanced shooter who may have a different style. *We have to have enough time to have a mentoring session before the wedding*

In short? I am hiring a grunt worker who thinks they get NOTHING out of the deal. Then they actually get more than they expect. It's the same as my packages and customer service. The client expects to receive 5 things, when they actually get 7.
 
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kathyt

kathyt

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On the flip side, here is what i expect from a photographer hiring me as a second...

Expectations in writing. A good contract is as important to me as a second as it is to the main. For mostly the same reasons.
Proper time management. Dont hire me for 4 hours, but suddenly expect me to stay for 8-10 without any consideration for our original agreement. Im always willing to work something out if the situation changes, just talk to me first.

Respect is a two way street. I understand you are the main and i am little more than slave labor, and it's your show. At least have the courtesy to be respectful in front of the clients.

Respect my equipment. If u need to use something i have, thats fine. Ask first, i paid for it. And treat it like YOU paid for it.
Also, your not taking my memory cards home, so bring some for me, or use my laptop to burn them to disk.

Communicate. Im not a mind reader. When you work with different mains, everyone has a different flow. Explaining yours ahead of time is a good thing.

Great points here. Yes, main should provide the CF cards. Teamwork and respect is SO very important and not only makes the day go more smoothly, but when you need them again they will want to come back and shoot with you again.
 

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Another point is: Are they capable of handling the wedding (taking it over) if the main photographer can't?
A lot of 2nd shooters are there as assistants or in a learning/mentoring capacity, which is great...but part of the reason for a true '2nd' shooter is redundancy. If something happens and the first shooter can't get the job done, can the second get fill in and do it up to the standards of the main (or close)?

I have a few (really good) photographers around here who hire me as a second shooter from time to time. The main reason being that I could, if called upon, shoot the wedding completely on my own.


Not being a wedding photographer, or a second in that regard, I guess I feel compelled to ask: Would you do the entire gig yourself for second shooter pay?
 
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kathyt

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Overread said:
Remember the thread isn't talking about mentors/internships/apprenticing or whatever you want to call it. It's specifically talking about a second shooter, a second photographer at the event. Generally speaking if you're going to be a proper second shooter you've already got to be a shooter - that is you've already got to have some of the skills to be reliable. That's the difference between a second shooter and an intern/student/apprentice type relationship.

The kind of second shooter that the opening post is talking about is someone reliable who knows the score, or at least has enough experience to be reliable. Not someone who is still green around the ears and needs monitoring or guidance or who might only be trustable with a simple pre-setup situation (eg shooting the arrival photos as people turn up).

Item 3 from the OP:

3. Professionalism? They either have it or they don't. Do they have references? What is their past wedding experiences? If this is their first wedding are they asking to be paid? Have they shadowed before?

Agreed its not about mentoring but my understanding is that the thread was started to help inform a couple of us that we're discussing what to do and how to do it to become a second shooter. If I was already a primary shooter I wouldn't need to figure out what others want from me to be their second shooter. The OP is trying to give info to those of us interested in seconding, which I greatly appreciate (you too Big Mike) so Camz response is a bit out of context. For me to second shoot for him I'd already need to be in business, thus his response adds nothing to this thread.

Every primary photographer is going to have their own way of finding, hiring, and keeping their second shooters. Not only that, but they are also going to have their own requirements on how much experience they are going to need you to have based on what they need you to do on that day. This will vary GREATLY from photographer to photographer. My way is by no means the right way or the only way. This thread was just to give some insight into how one person does it and then I was hoping others could chime in and describe a little bit about their process so we could get some different perspectives going.
 

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I know I was one who mentioned getting second shooting experience is harder than I thought. In all honesty, one reason I shot that wedding was to be able to show something (aside from doing it out of genuine kindness for my friend). I primarily shoot beauty which isn't a big help.

I totally understand Camz's viewpoint and respect it. The few local photographers who called me back told me they do the same thing. It's a great circle of safety. The key is to get in that circle. I'm taking a different viewpoint on the Craigslist photographers. I'm sure some of them are genuinely trying to get experience. I don't think I'll ever post an ad but I have replied to ads requesting photographic services. It's a dog eat dog world out there and I'm wearing Milkbone underwear.
 

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