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Tips for Choosing a Second Shooter | For Photographers

Having a second shooter on a wedding day is amazing. You aren’t only supported by another photographer, who is [hopefully] aware of how the day is going to go, but you also have a second pair of eyes for the day. It can go really great, but unfortunately, it can also go very bad. So here’s a post of tips for choosing a second shooter.

Choosing a second shooter photo of misty c. photography


I have heard it all when it comes to choosing a second shooter. Heck, i know first hand how difficult it can be. Most of the time, i’m pretty lucky and I am able to work with one specific photographer. I know she’s going to do a great job, get the shots the I want, and her photography style is right on par with mine. I love her to pieces (i’m talking about you Tammi!). BUT, there are times when i’m not so lucky and she has a wedding of her own, or something else happening, and I have to look elsewhere.

Facebook is a pretty handy tool when it comes to looking for a second shooter. I am a part of a few second shooter groups on there, and it’s a great place to find one! There are so many people willing to help you out though, that it can be a bit intimidating. After you post your “i’m looking for a second for …….,” you get an onslaught of answers like “I CAN DO IT!” “I’m available!” “I know you asked for Canon, but I shoot Nikon and live 5 hours away, but I can still help.” Wait that was my response once. HA. You then get to go through many people’s websites, and portfolios, to see if someone is a good fit for you.

Unfortunately, I have seen it far too often, that the person offering their services doesn’t have any wedding portfolio to see. They shoot portraits most of the time, or they love working with families, but want to get into weddings. Maybe even worse, they make it seem like they’re comfortable shooting weddings. They have done “so many”, and they just know they would be a perfect fit and are so willing to help! *Sigh* I literally just sighed thinking about it.

It’s tough. It takes time, but here’s a few things that I have found in working with a few different second shooters this year.

Meet Them

Choosing a second shooter misty c. photography as a second shooter

This is probably my most crucial piece of advice. It’s hard to judge someone just by some Facebook messages, and text messages. It’s best if you actually meet them, see what they look like, make sure they aren’t going to scare your clients off…..

Totally kidding. Sorta.

It’s just a good idea to get to know them a little bit before the wedding day. And it’s WAY easier to ask questions in person than having to do in online. Simple as that.

See Their Portfolio

Like I mentioned above, sometimes someone who has offered to be your second shooter won’t have a website. They only have a Facebook, and there aren’t ANY photos of any wedding on there. This is where you need to be sure to ask to see their wedding portfolio. Yes it’s great to see that they can take a great portrait in perfect golden light with no stress except that maybe it’s a little windy.

But wedding days are insane- literally insane some of the time, and it can be stressful. I know if it’s stressful for me, than my second (if they don’t have much experience) may feel like they’re up poop creek without a paddle. No bueno, folks. SO ASK! I had one photographer that I second shot for this year ask to see like 10 wedding portfolio images. And I have my website. And it’s up to date, and i’m pretty sure I sent her like my top 10 of my favorite images which are also on my website, but she still asked. It’s too important, and you pay too much to not to.

Ask About Their Gear

Choosing a second shooter Nikon d750

Hm. This may seem like a no brainer, but for some reason this is usually the LAST question that comes to mind for me. Most of the time, I see something like this in my Facebook groups.

“Looking for a second shooter for October 22. Enter location here. Nikon shooter preferred.”

Pretty vague, but it’s probably what I have said. Now, I’m not one of those photographers that HAS to shoot with only Nikon shooters. Tammi, my favorite, she shoots with a Canon 5D mk III. And I kind of love that. Her Canon picks up reds like I wish my Nikon did, but I know how I need to adjust her images to match well with mine, and it works out. However, it’s SO important to know that your second shooter is shooting with professional gear-especially with weddings and needing something that can potentially handle higher ISO.

One nice thing about shooting both Nikon or both Canon is that your second can use your gear. Luckily, most of my seconds had ample gear of their own to get through the day. If you don’t like to share (like me), then make sure your second has enough gear to make it through the day without your help.

Generally, I prefer my seconds to shoot with a professional full frame body, and have at least 3 professional grade lenses. Now they don’t have to be L series for Canon, or have the gold band on Nikon (my primes don’t), but they need to be good enough that I don’t have to stress. They also have to have at least one backup body. That’s super important. It’s a plus if their main body has two card slots, so they can shoot one of my cards, and one of theirs. If there’s one thing i hate, it’s trying to get files to someone via dropbox. Especially because I have crappy internet about 80% of the time. If they don’t have two slots, they can shoot on their own cards, and we’ll download them to my computer at the end of the night. Easy enough.

Have a Contract

I think I have said this on past second shooter posts, but I’m going to say it again because it’s that important! Have a contract between you and your seconds. Even if it’s you best friend who’s helped you from the beginning. It never hurts anyone. It’s there for your [and their] protection.

Be sure to go over the gear thing, the card thing, and especially WHAT TO WEAR. I’ve heard nightmares about second shooters showing up to weddings in scantly clad apparel. YIKES. No thanks. Address the time that you’ll need your second shooter, and most importantly, MONEY! How much are you paying them? Be sure to communicate!

Picking your second shooter for a wedding can be terrifying, but it can also be a perfect way to meet a new friend! It all depends on how you go about it! 🙂 Happy hunting!


  1. Candi

    October 6th, 2016 at 6:40 pm

    Great tips!!

  2. Ashley Durham

    October 6th, 2016 at 6:48 pm

    Great tips for selecting a second shooter!

  3. Amber

    October 6th, 2016 at 6:50 pm

    Great post! 🙂

  4. Jill

    October 7th, 2016 at 2:57 am

    Fabulous tips!

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