How To Be A Good Second Photographer | For Photographers

April 17, 2019

Getting ready for the First Look! Photo taken while second shooting for Julia Rebecca Photography


Another Wednesday, another blog post! I used to only blog when I had sessions to share, but I’m loving my new workflow of including educational and personal blog posts in-between sessions! It’s allowing me to connect with you guys on a more regular basis and I love that!

Today’s post is for photographers who might be new to shooting weddings. When I was first starting out, I wanted #allthepractice when it came to weddings and really, the only way to get that practice without as much pressure is to assist on a wedding day as a second photographer. I was so incredibly thankful for all of the opportunities I had to second shoot alongside well established photographers in my first year of business, it really taught me some invaluable things, not to mention all of that extra practice I got from being able to shoot on real wedding days! However, what I quickly started to realize is that I was feeling almost double the pressure. Not only did I want to provide extra images for the couple, I wanted to provide images that the main photographer could use in the clients final gallery. I didn’t want the main photographer who allowed me to assist them to feel like I was just taking up space, I really wanted to make them proud! I didn’t want to get in their way, but I always wanted to make sure I got some great shots. There was a lot to think about and keep in mind which is why I wanted to write this blog post for someone who may be in the same boat that I was in!

Here are my top 5 tips to being a good second shooter:

  1. BREATHE – Guys I know how cheesy this sounds but I’m so serious about it! I would get myself so worked up and nervous beforehand that I was just making myself forget simple little things that I knew how to do! It was so frustrating! I would force myself to take a step back, observe the main photographer and how they were handling a certain situation and just take some deep breaths. I had to remind myself how lucky and excited I was to be there in the first place and that usually allowed me to bring myself back down to earth to do the best job I could.
  2. ASK QUESTIONS – This is so important and comes in two parts! PART 1: the whole reason you’re allowing yourself to be a second shooter (if you’re just starting out) is to learn more about photographing weddings! If you don’t ask questions about things you aren’t sure about, you won’t learn moving forward. Just make sure you’re asking questions at appropriate times. You don’t want to ask the main photographer a question just as the couple is about to share their first kiss as husband and wife! PART 2: It’s all about the shot list. What I mean by that is, asking the main photographer if there is a certain shot that the bride really wants that they may not have mentioned to you yet. This should be something that the main photographer communicates to you ahead of time, but life happens and sometimes things get missed! I’ve had second photographers ask me certain questions before that trigger my memory and make me go “Oh yes, thank you for reminding me!” Because things happen and wedding days can be so hectic and hey, we’re all only human!
  3. BE A GOOD LISTENER – Along with asking questions, you need to make sure you’re listening to specific instructions from the main photographer. For example, during one of my second shooter gigs, the main photographer made sure to tell me what shot to get, where to stand, and when to move out of the way so she could get her shot. I was in charge of getting the shot from the back of the bride walking into the ceremony arm and arm with her dad. Once I got that shot, I had strict instruction to move way over to the side so the main photographer could get her shot from the front. If you’re constantly in the shot of the main photographer, you’re going to start getting on their nerves and I probably wouldn’t hold my breathe for another opportunity to second shoot for them.
  4. OFFER ASSISTANCE – If you can see the main photographer struggling to “do it all” don’t be afraid to step in and offer to hold a bag or to run and grab a lens. Yes this means you’ll probably miss a shot or two but I promise you, the main photographer will appreciate the help and it’s something they will remember after the wedding day is over, which ultimately means more chances for you to second shoot for them in the future!
  5. GIVE CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE – Last but certainly not least!! If you’ve been given permission to share images you took on a wedding day as a second shooter, always always ALWAYS credit the main photographer when you post the photos on social media or anywhere else. It doesn’t have to be a lot, just something simple stating who the main photographer was for that particular wedding day. For example, if I wanted to share an image I took as a second shooter on Instagram, I might write something like, “Loved assisting on this wedding day with So-And-So Photography! I was able to capture this image from the balcony as the bride was being escorted down the aisle by her dad.” Not giving credit will guarantee a “no call back” next time that main photographer is looking for assistance on a wedding day. The ONLY time this wouldn’t be necessary is if you were using the photos in your portfolio that you show potential clients.
  6. *BONUS* TAKE BTS SHOTS! – As photographers, we are always the ones behind the lens, but it’s nice to showcase the physical work we’re doing from time to time! This is why I always try to make sure and grab some behind the scenes (bts) shots of the main photographer I’m working with (see the header image above!) It shows us in action and proves that being a good photographer is not just about pushing a button 😉


Being a second shooter is not something to take lightly. I was so incredibly excited and flattered every time I was asked to assist on a wedding day and I made sure to never take the opportunity for granted. It’s an important job and knowing the basic etiquette rules will help you to go into your next second shooting gig with a bit more confidence which will guarantee a smoother experience between not only yourself and the main photographer, but for the couple and their guests as well!


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