three ways to be ana w e s o m esecond shooterI only take on 15-20 weddings a year, so on my off weekend you can usually find me second shooting. I love second shooting because I get to experience a lot of different wedding experiences and lets face it, there’s cake.

Over the last few years, I’ve seen a lot and the skills I’ve learned second shooting have been invaluable in serving my own clients. I know venues I may not have had a chance to shoot in, vendors I may not have had a chance to work with and most importantly, have made some amazing photographer friends who I now get and send referrals to on a daily basis.

Here are some of the most valuable things I’ve learned being a second shooter:

1.) Be Cool-  I’ve walked into the grooms getting ready area, repeating his name over and over so I don’t make a fool of myself since I had just learned it earlier in the day. One time in particular a groom was really nervous and it was hot and crowded in the getting ready room. Keeping my cool and taking the lead let him have a breather and by the time we got to the first look he was completely back to normal. The most important piece of advice that I can pass on to a second shooter is to stay cool. Things happen during a wedding that are out of your control, but it’s important to be a face of professionalism and poise. Even if the timeline has been thrown out the window and your primary throws all the detail photos on you and you have five minutes to get them done, take a deep breath and get it done.

2.) Be Prompt – I’m late for every day things a lot. I have three kids and things get crazy at my house on the daily. However, I’m never late for weddings. If the primary shooter needs me there at 3:00pm, I make sure to get there at 2:30pm. Bottom line is you never know what will happen on the way there, there could be an accident or construction traffic. Apple maps could take you to the wrong church. I’d rather have an extra 30 minutes to finish my coffee and review the timeline than have to call my primary shooter and tell them I am going to be late.

3.) Be Proactive – The thing that sets a second shooter out among the rest is the ability to read the situation and be proactive. Is the brides dress tucked in a weird place?  Jump in and fix it. Is there an aunt  that totally hid behind a taller uncle during family formals? Let the primary shooter know. If it’s a super hot day, make sure the bride and groom have water during portraits. These little things that make the day go easier go a long way in making a lasting working relationship with the other shooter, and really stand out!

If you have been on the fence about second shooting, I really encourage jumping in and going for it. It’s not only fun, but you get to face different lighting challenges and situations that will help you prepare for your own solo weddings. Plus, cake!

Elizabeth Haase

I'm a fine art wedding photographer currently calling Wisconsin home. I love film, 80s movies and breakfast for dinner. I'm a wife, and a mom to three seriously amazing little girls. I believe Sundays should be for adventuring and that every day calls for a coffee run.

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