Second shooting is a great way to learn the ropes and get ready to go out on your own, or to supplement your income while being artistic. When you aren't in charge, you get a unique opportunity to capture a lot of candid, artistic and unique images. I rely a lot on my Second Shooters and choose them carefully.
Being a great Second Shooter isn't just about the images you create during the event--how you interact with guests, how you carry yourself, your preparedness and your support of the primary shooter are just a few ways where you can set yourself apart. Every photographer and studio will have different priorities, but here are six things that will make you an indispensable rockstar at Aralani Photography:
1) Be prepared. When you show up with your batteries charged, the right equipment for the venue/setting, your things well-organized and easily-carryable, enough memory cards, backups in place for potential equipment failures, and a snack and some water, you're showing that you're a professional. Wear appropriate clothing and shoes, too--if you haven't shot with a particular photographer before, inquire about their expectations.
2) Learn the couples' names, wear a watch, and be aware of the timeline. Memorizing the names of the couple you're about to photograph shows that you understand the importance of the day and value those who trust you with their memories. Knowing what is supposed to happen when is extremely helpful to everyone around you, and having the ability to tell someone what time it is can be a life-saver.
3) Smile, be approachable, and know when to go get the primary photographer. No one wants to be photographed by someone who is grumpy and indifferent--be pleasant, smile as you're taking photos and walking around, and be helpful. If you look like you're enjoying yourself, people will trust you. And if someone requests a photo you're uncomfortable with (tough lighting, beyond your technical abilities, wrong lens, etc.), or asks you to make a decision that you don't feel qualified to make, smile and get your primary photographer.
4) See differently and use your creativity. My favorite Second Shooters are the ones who watch what I'm doing so they can do something complimentary but different. For example, if your primary is shooting wide, use a zoom. If they're capturing from the front, orbit to find another good angle. If they're focusing on the couple, focus on the guests, show the couple plus the scenery, or go behind a tree, or shoot through the bushes. Think creatively and you'll be an asset to both the primary photographer and the client.
Oh, do you see a hair in the wrong place, a foot being awkward, or a tie that's crooked during portraits? Fix it, or at least mention it. The primary can't see everything all at once, and will appreciate your eye for detail.
5) Be a team player. Do what's right for the client and the primary photographer. Remember, you are one of the main faces of someone else's hard-earned brand for the day--do what you'd want done if someone was representing what you'd poured your life into creating. Cheerfully pass out cards for the primary photographer when asked. Don't just shoot for your portfolio--shoot what you should be shooting to support the end goal. Communicate about where you're going and what you're doing, and ask how you can help. Try to get out of the way when you're in the shot. Get water for your teammates, and clients if needed. Hold the ladder in place, or the door open. People will remember how awesome and helpful you are, and what fantastic photos you take.
6) Think carefully about portfolio images. I grant my second shooters use of images they shoot for me, as long as they note they were shooting under my company name. When you choose photos for your portfolio, select images that show YOUR style and things that YOU notice, not alternate angles of a shot someone else set up. It's better for you, your future clients, and the photographer you're shooting for. If your clients are expecting the poses another photographer created, they may be surprised to have a different experience. No one sees like you do--use those moments to show your unique perspective and talent.
Bonus: Grab a few great shots of the primary photographer working, if you have time. It's so good to have real, working photos for marketing, and they're hard to come by!
If you have any questions or I can help at all, let me know! Meanwhile, go out and kill it!