Should You Hire A Second Shooter?

May 11, 2016

Photographing a wedding is one of the most difficult photographic tests a professional or semi-professional can take on. It often requires that the photographer understand so many types of photography. Weddings can often challenge the photographer to understand how to properly compose, utilize light, and shoot landscapes, portraits, action shots, children, details, and much more. It requires the photographer to specialize in many areas rather than one if he/she wants to truly stand out. This is why having a second shooter can really take a lot of pressure off when shooting a wedding, and allow for the creative style that contributed to the bride and groom choosing you to emerge. The second shooter can be assigned specific events and details, taking a load off of your shot list. He/she can also act as an assistant at times, helping with any lighting or posing during the wedding. 


This does not mean you can not shoot a wedding on your own, however it will likely be much more stressful. There are some shots that can not be missed at a wedding, and second chances are rare for some shots that will ultimately be expected to be captured by the bride and groom. There can be many reasons for shooting solo. Some weddings are smaller and more informal, requiring only one shooter. Some truly prefer to shoot alone, usually seasoned veterans if they are to be successful. These are professionals who can typically guess nearly a perfect exposure in the first one or two tries, and adjust their camera settings accordingly without removing the camera from their eye. A wedding moves fast, you can not constantly pull your camera away to find the setting you need, guess, take a test shot, and adjust and try again. If you are shooting alone you have to be able to get your composition and exposure close to what it needs to be on the first try most times. At the very least you have to know how to adjust to cover your bases if you are struggling with this, such as using bracketing to get exposure right, utilizing two cameras with different settings, or swallowing your pride and switching out of Manual mode into one of your creative modes. You also have to be a master at multi-tasking, being able to focus on great photos while communicating with guests, the bride, and other vendors. 


Another option is to hire a second shooter. This can range greatly depending on the type of wedding, location, how long, etc. Sometimes a second shooter can even be a photographer newer to weddings that is trying to break into the industry, and is not yet comfortable enough to shoot on his/her own. Simply review the photographer's portfolio, and even ask for references if you want to truly protect your branding. The behavior of your second shooter will reflect upon your professional presence. As a wedding photographer you are constantly marketing yourself, even at weddings where the DJ, caterers, and wedding planner may be taking notes for referrals. If you are able to secure a second shooter, you can now rest easy should you not be quite happy with a particular shot, as you should already have discussed a shooting plan to ensure all key shots are being captured by you and your second shooter. Having a second shooter also allows you to focus on interacting more with the vendors and wedding party for capturing those moments in between the ones everyone is looking for. That is where the most beautiful moments happen. 

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