infographic stating the ultimate second shooter guide for wedding photography

Becoming a second shooter is a great way to gain experience in the wedding photography industry. For photographers starting their journey into wedding photography, second shooting can be a significant step in learning the trick of the trade! From sticking to the wedding photography timeline and shot list to handling the pressure of working on a clock (with or without additional surprises), as a second shooter you can learn a lot from the primary photographer. Additionally, this can be a great way to build your portfolio and expand your network of contacts! In this second shooter guide, we will discuss everything you need to know about becoming and being a second shooter. We’ll cover the basics, like how to become a second shooter for weddings, second shooter requirements, and how to find work. We’ll also give you a second shooter checklist of things to do before your first gig!

Who Is a Second Shooter?

infographic stating a second shooter works with the primary photographer to capture additional angles and moments of the wedding

A second shooter is a photographer who works with the main photographer to capture the events of a wedding day. Second shooters are an important part of a wedding photography team because they help capture all the day’s crucial moments, from the bride getting ready to the first dance and more. They also provide backup in case something happens to the lead photographer or camera.

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

Second Shooter Requirements

1. Have Your Own Gear

    infographic stating having your own gear including a camera and lenses is a necessity

    You will need to have your own DSLR camera and lenses. This is non-negotiable. You cannot rely on the lead shooter to let you use their gear, as they will need it for themselves. We also recommend buying a camera that is compatible with the main photographer's system. This way, you can use their lenses if required, and they can easily download your images onto their computer.

    2. Photography Experience

    It is not necessary to have shot a wedding before, but you should at least be comfortable using your camera and know the basics of photography. If you need to gain experience, we recommend taking a beginner's photography class or two. This will give you the opportunity to build your portfolio.

    Suggested Read: Tips To Curate Wedding Photography Portfolio & Get More Clients

    3. Work Well Under Pressure

    infographic stating you need to stay calm and composed even when things go haywire

    While certain things might go off track during weddings, you must be able to stay calm and composed  and work well under pressure. You should also be able to think on your feet and be proactive. This means taking the initiative when something goes wrong, or the main photographer needs help.

    4. Ask Questions

    As a second shooter, it is important to ask questions. If you are unsure about something, feel free to ask the lead photographer. It is better to clear any doubts before the wedding day than to make mistakes during the actual event.

    5. Reliable & Punctual

    infographic stating develop a great work ethic from the start by being punctual and reliable

    Last but not least, you must dress professionally and be reliable and punctual. Having these traits is an essential second shooter requirement because it shows that you can be trusted. If you are late or cancel at the last minute, it will reflect poorly on you and the lead photographer. Plus, there is nothing worse than showing up to a wedding and realizing that you forgot your memory cards or batteries!

    Read More: Bid Goodbye To Stress And Pain With Yoga For Photographers

    How To Become A Second Shooter For Weddings

    1. Build A Portfolio

    infographic stating create an online portfolio to increase your visibility and web presence

    One of the best ways to get second shooting gigs is to have an online portfolio that showcases your work. This will allow potential clients to see your style and decide if you're a good fit for them. Ensure you include weddings and styled shoots in your portfolio to show you're versatile and can handle different events.

    2. Create A Website & Blog

    Having your own website makes you look more professional and allows you to showcase your work in a more personalized way. If you need to learn how to create a website, we recommend using WordPress or Showit. Also, start a blog. It can help you connect with potential clients and show them your personality. You can blog about your photography journey and share wedding tips. 

    3. Contact Local Photographers

    infographic stating let the photographer know why you think you'd be a fit for their business

    Try reaching out to wedding photographers in your area. Many photographers are looking for talented second shooters, so this is a great way to get started in the industry. You can find contact information for local photographers on their websites or social media pages. Once you've found a few photographers you're interested in working with, email them or call them.

    4. Attend Photography Events

    Meet photographers and get second shooting gigs while attending photography workshops, conferences, or trade shows. These events are an opportunity to network with other photographers and learn about the industry. You never know; you might just meet your next boss at one of these events!

    5. Styled Shoots

    infographic stating participate in styled shoots to gain photography experience and hone your skills

    Styled shoots usually involve a team of creatives, including other vendors like photographers, florists, hair and makeup artists, and models. As a second shooter, you would be responsible for taking photos of the event. This is a great way to build your portfolio, create vendor relationships and get experience working with a team of creatives. 

    Read More: A Styled Shoot Guideline For Photographers

    Second Shooter Wedding Shot List

    infographic stating reviewing your second shooter list will help you know what is expected of you

    The next topic in this second shooter guide is learning about the wedding shot list. Here are some of the most popular shots that should be on the second shooter wedding shot list:

    • Bride and groom getting ready 
    • First look 
    • Ceremony (Decor, flowers, bride walking down the aisle, vows)
    • Wedding party (Venue, decor, customized items, bouquet toss)
    • Cake cutting (Bride and groom, reaction of guests)
    • First dance and all special dances
    • Cocktail hour

    Second Shooter Checklist

    infographic stating keep track of everything with a second shooter checklist

    From photography gear and event timeline to a list of tasks for the day, having all of this information in one place will help you avoid making blunders and ensure everything runs smoothly during the wedding. 

    Here's a list of items that should be on your second shooter list:

    • Emergency kit (extra batteries, memory cards, flash drive, first aid kit)
    • Photography equipment (camera body, different lens, tripod, flash)
    • Timeline for the wedding day
    • List of tasks for the day
    • Contact information of the main photographer, bride, groom, and wedding planner

    Related Read: The Ultimate Second Shooter Wedding Photo Checklist

    Second Shooter Questions

    infographic stating ask questions and clear doubts with your lead photographer

    The final section of this second shooter guide covers questions you should ask the lead photographer before the wedding day. Here are some questions you should ask the main photographer before the wedding day:

    • What is the expected dress code for the day?
    • What is the timeline for the day?
    • Are there any specific shots that you would like me to take on the day?
    • Who should I be in contact with if I have any questions on the day of the wedding?
    • Do you have a second shooter list that I can review?
    • What is your backup plan if something goes wrong on the wedding day?
    • Do you have insurance in case something happens to my equipment?
    • What are the second shooter rates you are providing?

    Further Read: How To Book More Weddings As A Second Shooter

    With the right requirements and a shot list that outlines the basics, you can become a successful second shooter. While some things are specific to wedding photography, much of being a second shooter is about being prepared and knowing your role. We hope this second shooter guide helps you to have a smooth shoot with minimal stress. Happy shooting!

    At ShootDotEdit, we are passionate about helping you hone your craft! And we help with 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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