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Second shooters play an important role in wedding photography. Not only do they provide an extra set of hands, but they also help to capture different angles and perspectives of the big day. As the second shooter, you assist the lead wedding photographer by capturing photos that are important to your couple. Therefore, a second shooter checklist is essential to ensure that you capture all the essential moments of your couple’s big day. By being prepared and having a well-planned second shooter shot list with you, you can flawlessly capture the wedding day without any stress and even stay on track at all times. 

What Is A Second Shooter and What Are Their Responsibilities

infographic stating an efficient second shooter can ensure that not a single important wedding moment is missed

A second shooter is a photographic assistant who works with the primary photographer to capture a wedding. So the answer to “is a second shooter necessary?” depends on whether the couple or the size of the wedding requires one. Here are some reasons why having a second shooter is a good call: 

  • The second shooter is responsible for capturing all of the other important moments that take place on a wedding day, including candid shots of the guests, detail photos, wide-angle shots of the ceremony and reception spaces, etc. 

  • The second shooter also helps in setting up and breaking down photo shoots, carrying equipment, and assisting with other logistical tasks. 

  • Along with helping with carrying the gear, setting up shots, and managing guests, a second shooter also helps with crowd control and any unforeseen circumstances that may arise.

Suggested Read: Training Your Second Shooter: Making Them An Essential Member Of Your Team

An Inclusive Wedding Photography Checklist For Second Shooters

infographic stating a checklist can help make wedding photography much more organized

1. How To Be An Ace Second Shooter 

A second shooter checklist will help you be sure that nothing is forgotten and that all the bases are covered. As a second shooter, all you’ll need to excel at your job is this wedding photography checklist with second shooter tips:

  • Arrive early at the wedding venue. Look for the best shooting locations and get a feel for the lighting in each spot. Be aware of your surroundings and look for unique angles to capture the wedding day story and details.

  • Capture a mix of close-ups and wide-angle shots. Be it the first look, wedding ceremony, or reception photography, get a good understanding of the couple’s vision for their photos so that you can capture shots that will fit in with their overall aesthetic. Follow the ultimate wedding photography checklist and coordinate with the lead photographer to ensure that you’re on the right track. 

  • Take advantage of any scenic backdrop at the wedding venue for your couples portraits. If possible, try to sneak away during sunset for a few minutes to get some beautiful golden hour photos. 

  • Get to know the wedding party and guests, so you can put them at ease in front of the camera. Once the ceremony is over, stick around to capture some candid shots of guests congratulating the newlyweds.

  • Be aware of the schedule and plan ahead to capture all the little details that make the wedding day unique. During the wedding reception, be on the lookout for special moments like the first dance, cake cutting, reactions to wedding toasts, etc. At the end of the event, make sure to get a few shots of the bride and groom leaving as husband and wife. 

Suggested Read: 5 Quick Tips To Empower Your Second Shooter

2. Second Shooter Wedding Shot List

infographic stating wedding photography involves a team effort to capture all of the special moments

Just a wedding shot list helps a wedding photographer stay on track, creating a list of all the moments you need to capture can be beneficial. As a second shooter, you are entrusted with capturing wedding photos that a lead shooter might be too busy to capture. Plus, you are also expected to capture different angles and perspectives that help tell the story of that moment. With a second shooter shot list, you increase your chances of capturing everything flawlessly. Here are a few photographs your shooter’s photo checklist can include: 

1. Getting Ready Photos 

a bride getting ready strapping on her wedding shoes
Image Credit: ShootDotEdit Customer

As the lead shooter is photographing the bride and groom getting ready, you can assist them to get more candid shots of the couple getting ready. Additionally, if the lead photographer is taking portraits of the couple once they are done getting ready, you could gather the wedding party for their group shots. 

2. First Look

Whether it is a first look between the bride and groom, or the bride and her bridal party, or a first look with the bride and her parents, make sure you and the lead wedding photographer communicate about who you have to focus on. In a bride and groom first look, the lead will most likely be focusing on the groom’s reactions, so make sure you capture the bride’s excitement as she walks up to the room and taps on his shoulder. Similarly, if there’s a first look with the parents, make sure you both are on the same page about who your primary subjects are.

3. Group Photos

a groom and his groomsmen posing with a camel
Image Credit: ShootDotEdit Customer @brandiallysephoto

While the lead is busy taking couples portraits, you can cover your second shooter checklist item by capturing family and wedding party portraits, using different photography angles and techniques. Once you’re done with capturing these essential photos, you could also find a different angle for capturing the couples portraits.

4. Shoot Details

a close up detail shot of the wedding reception food and drinks
Image Credit: ShootDotEdit Customer @erinm_photography

The couple spends a considerable amount of time planning every little detail of their wedding day. Whether it’s the rings, the flowers, the centerpieces, or the 5-tiered wedding cake, make sure you take out time to capture the unique wedding decor details. 

5. Wedding Ceremony

a beautiful dimly lit shot of a wedding ceremony
Image Credit: ShootDotEdit Customer @taylorkempphotography

Wedding ceremony photos are some of the most important photos that you will take at any wedding. While the lead photographer focuses on shooting the couple at the altar, you could move around the venue and capture candid shots of the guests, the bride and groom’s reactions from different angles, and even expansive shots of the ceremony location from the back or from a bird’s-eye view.

6. Reception Highlights

an overhead aerial shot of a wedding reception
Image Credit: ShootDotEdit Customer @loversoflove

Be it the emotional speeches, first dance, cake cutting, bouquet/garter toss – there’s a lot that goes on during a wedding reception, and while the lead photographer focuses on the couple during the different activities, make sure you get candids of their guests’ reactions. Just like we suggested for the wedding details, remember to take out some time to capture details from the reception venue. 

Further Read: Hiring A Second Shooter For Weddings: Tips & Tricks

infographic stating being a second shooter is a great opportunity to learn all about wedding photography

Being a second shooter is a great opportunity to learn, get creative, and experiment with your photography. And having a second shooter checklist is a great way to ensure that you’re ready to impress. We’d recommend that before the wedding, you communicate and coordinate with the lead shooter so that you’re both on the same page and don’t end up missing out on any important moments. You can use our suggested checklist, or you could also modify it to suit your needs better. In any case, make sure you prepare one and also prepare a shot list so you can keep track of all the photos you need to take and have a relatively stress-free workday.

At ShootDotEdit, we are passionate about helping you level up as a photographer and a business owner. And we do that by taking editing off your plate with our professional photo editing services, giving you more time to learn new skills. To learn more about how we can help your wedding photography business, check out our pricing plans.

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