Part of running a successful business is learning how to build a solid team. During the busy season, it’s vital to your success. Though you would love to be able to do it all on your own, having trusted partners will help your business continue to grow. One of the most trusted partners is your second shooter. Having a second shooter is a mutually beneficial relationship. While they learn from you, the pace and stress of your day is also lessened. But like any business partnership, you need to make sure that you set up your second shooter for success.

All relationships are built around trust, and the relationship you build with your second is no different. Whether this is the first time you have worked together or you have been paired for years, you need to arm them with the tools and knowledge to be a part of your company. Set clear expectations. It will help them succeed as your partner. Here are five things you can start doing now to empower your second shooter to succeed.

1. Give them an Agenda for the Day

Your couple or wedding planner has provided you with a schedule for the day. Pass that on to your second shooter to review ahead of time. Do not leave anything up to chance. Make sure that they understand your expectations.

Couples more often have been eschewing the traditional wedding schedule. They may have cocktail hour before the ceremony or have first looks somewhere an hour away from the reception, so you should clearly outline the flow of the day so that your second shooter knows exactly where to be. When you are in different locations, make sure to give them a time, address and contact name. Entrust them with the information in advance so that they can properly manage their time.

2. Create a Collection of Good Second Shooter Images for Viewing

The best tool that you can provide to your second shooter is clear communication. Tell them what you want and expect from them as a team member. Even if you have worked with them before, do not expect them to know what your vision is for this particular wedding. And don’t expect them to go to your site, look at all your images in your portfolio or blog, and figure it out on their own. Instead, create a gallery of images that show what you are thinking. Be sure to include images from other second shooters that have been successful and ones from other photographers. Pinterest is a great way to showcase and share these images.

Related: 3 Tricks to Posing the Bridesmaids

Bonus—We think this is the most important thing you can do for your second shooter.

So, instead of just dumping a bunch of pictures into a Pinterest gallery, be sure to put some thought into it and explain why you chose these particular images. Notes are helpful: “I included this image because I really love the movement” or “I like these angles. I don’t shoot wide very often; please try to shoot wide when you can.”

3. Checklist of Required Gear

This is kind of self-explanatory, but it helps to communicate a few things. By telling them what kind of gear you want them to have at a minimum, you can be sure they are a professional. If they do not have a particular piece of equipment, give them time to rent, borrow or buy it.

It also helps to explain why you want them to have certain equipment, as in the tip above—”I tend to shoot much tighter; please make sure you bring a wide-angle lens to compensate”—or the opposite, “I’ll be shooting wide; can you make sure to have a 70-200 to capture the intimate moments?” Clear instructions on what you would like them to bring are the best way to quantify what you want them to capture. Give them this information in advance to ensure they will be set up to capture exactly what you are looking for.

4. Dress Code

As a member of your team, your second shooter is an extension of you and of your brand. For this event, they are a representative of your company. Different photographers and studios have different expectations of what to wear when working a wedding. It is important to have this conversation. It may seem obvious, but don’t leave it up to chance. Your wardrobe is an element of your branding, so whether you prefer all black or a pop of color in your clothing choices, make sure that you clearly communicate that expectation. Set them up to be successful.

5. Be Organized and Authoritative (They are there to second shoot, not lead!)

As a primary shooter, you need to be organized and authoritative, but your second shooter does not. They still need to be professional and be a good representation of your company, but ultimately, you’re in charge. They are getting paid to shoot for you. Have a plan for the day and share it with them. There may be moments where the second shooter will need to do some posing alone, such as in the morning with the groomsmen. But when you are together, having them move into that second position is crucial. Though we want them to be empowered to capture beautiful images, you are the boss. It can be a fine line for a second photographer to walk, which is why knowing their level of professionalism beforehand can help. Set up the schedule, outline your expectations, and share them. It not only will make the day of the event flow smoothly but will also help your shooter to learn.

Bonus – Schedule a time to talk in advance.

There are other conversations that can go along with the one above—make sure you have talked through how they will be paid and how the images will need to be delivered. Also, make sure to work out “ownership” of the images in advance—can they blog these images with a link back to your site? It is your responsibility as the lead shooter to have these discussions, so set up a time to talk and work out the details well in advance.

Related: Get your FREE email templates to make communication for your photography business a breeze!

Building a good relationship with a set of second shooters will only help to enhance your business and your brand. Whether this is your first time or 20th time working with a particular second, making sure to address all these tips will help you to walk into that wedding together confident that you can take on the surprises of the day.

For more ways to find, train, and empower your second shooter to reflect your wedding photography business, download The Ultimate Guide to Second Shooters!


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