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Second-Shooters: Is It Worth It? | Christa Rene Photography

8/18/16

When I first started my business and shot my first few weddings, I didn’t always have a second-shooter. In fact, I’d have my couples pay more if they wanted that second photographer! As I kept going with weddings, I noticed I just liked having someone else there, whether the couple hired them or not.

Fast forward 3 years, and now I never go to a wedding without a second-shooter! Julia is currently my second-shooter for every wedding, and she’s the bomb!! Morgan was my main second-shooter last year and beginning of this year (she’s now rocking being a teacher in Georgia!), and there have been many others who have helped me on wedding days that I can’t thank enough! Here are a few reasons why I now don’t go to a wedding without a second-shooter!

  • The assistance. Not only does my second-shooter take pictures, but also helps me carry the dress, run back to the elevator and go up to the bride’s hotel room when I’m shooting details in the lobby and forgot the bouquet, or help me carry my bags if I’m helping the bride with her dress. This helps me focus on my job more and best serving my bride, without worrying about my stuff getting stolen because I put it down to help the bride. I honestly appreciate the assistance more than I do the extra images! A lazy second-shooter will cause you more work than help! In the image below, Julia held the light stand the flash was on behind the couple so I could get a beautiful backlight without it being knocked over!downtown_greenville_sc_wedding_christa_rene_photography_0998
  • The second angle. Often times it’s nice having different angles of the same thing! Here’s a shot Julia took of the groom’s face from the side at our most recent wedding. The coordinator preferred for me to stay at the back so I wouldn’t have been able to get a good shot of the groom since I was getting the bride.downtown_greenville_sc_wedding_christa_rene_photography_0996Our normal system if for me to be at the front shooting back and getting the front of the bride, and for my second shooter to get the back of the bride walking in (this was a little different but we worked with it!)
  • The advice. I’ve found myself constantly looking to second-shooters for their thoughts on if certain locations are a good choice for pictures, what we should do if something comes up in the timeline, and a variety of other things. Yes, I’ve been shooting for about 4 years, but asking and getting a second-opinion is refreshing. Julia actually suggested this picture spot below when I was circling the church before we came in to greet everyone, panicking a little about where we could shoot since it was 1pm and the outside of the church wasn’t leaving many options. The lighting ended up being beyond perfect and I got some of my favorite images here… thanks to her suggestion!downtown_greenville_sc_wedding_christa_rene_photography_0997
  • The back-up. Being a wedding photographer means if something happens to me the day before a wedding that disables me from being able to shoot it, that doesn’t stop the wedding. It’s still going to happen, and having someone who I know would be able to step in my place and shoot it beautifully is extremely calming!
  • The encouragement. This might sound selfish and yes, this depends on the person and how well you work together/how comfortable you are with each other. Luckily, my two most regular second-shooters have been some of my best friends, and super positive about everything! But even if you aren’t super close you can still tell each other what a great job they’re doing! A positive individual excited about working with you and helping out makes a positive difference, which means someone negative working with you will do the opposite! Here’s Julia being sweet and positive and when I was testing lighting before family formals!downtown_greenville_sc_wedding_christa_rene_photography_0999Tips on hiring a second shooter:
  •  Find someone who is consistent in their photography and a hard worker. Look through their portfolio ahead of time, ask about their equipment, and see if you like the way they shoot. Julia has mastered shooting like me so well, that I’ve thought her images were my own before! Having your camera settings close to the same is a great way to insure images will come out similar.
  •  Have a signed contract! Decide beforehand if and how they’re allowed to use the images they’ve taken at the wedding they’re shooting with you, how much you’re paying them, etc, and make it clear in the contract.
  •  I’ve found that using the same second-shooters repeatedly goes really well! Instead of re-explaining how you work each wedding and what they should do, they’ll already know and save you time and learn how you think so you can establish an efficient system for shooting things like ceremony, first dance, etc. without getting in each other’s shots. Obviously, only ask someone to help again if they worked hard and did a good job! Here’s Morgan and I having a little fun at a reception!downtown_greenville_sc_wedding_christa_rene_photography_1000
  •  And finally, remember your second-shooter is a direct reflection of you and your brand if they’re at a wedding with you. If your second-shooter is in ripped jeans sipping wine and relaxing like a regular wedding guest during a reception, and you’re in a classic dress running around working hard, people will notice… and they probably won’t be noticing how hard you’re working or how classy you look!

Having a second shooter and finding great ones to work with me has impacted how well my weddings come out, and I hope it does the same for you! I hope this was helpful to those on the fence about a second shooter! As always, if you have any questions shoot me an email at christarenephotography@gmail.com!

Here’s our tired smiles after a wedding!

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