Looking for tips on how to be a better second shooter? We’ve got you covered! But first, a little background on how the two of us work together.
In our marriage, Amy was the photographer first. She had a passion for the camera before Jordan ever did. So, to help pursue her dream, while she spent a lot of nights and weekends learning and practicing, Jordan worked a part-time job to pay for gear. Thus, as a shooter, Amy developed much faster than Jordan. For a long time, she was a much more comfortable, confident, proficient photographer. This is a pretty common story, especially with husband and wife teams.
Today, Jordan is such a strong shooter that Amy always says she’d be more than comfortable with him shooting the entire wedding day by himself. (And he basically has!) We switch off who takes “lead” throughout each wedding day and no longer consider Jordan the “second shooter.” But he worked really hard to get there.
Recently, a husband in the same situation (now) as Jordan was (years ago) asked Jordan this question:
Since your wife had such a big head start, and you were working so much while she was practicing with the camera, how did you get better as a second shooter?
Here was Jordan’s response:
Mentally, make the decision that you’re going to get SO GOOD, that when she culls the cards, she can’t tell the difference between hers and yours. Get to a point where the sneak peek is yours sometimes. How do you get there? Stop thinking of yourself as a second shooter and start thinking of yourself as the second lead shooter. Shoot every session and wedding as if her cards are going to get corrupted and you’re going to have to rely on yours. That’s not going to happen (hopefully!) but it’s a good mental shift to make.
Then, ask her for feedback after every session. Have her bring you to the computer and show you what you did well, and what would be helpful for next time. Amy did that with me and I improved really fast. It still takes time, but faster than it would have if I hadn’t done that.
I’d also recommend having her take you out (sometimes) to shoot when it’s just you and her, and the pressure is off. Then, she can give you real-time feedback. That’s a great way to learn!
Also, don’t shoot over her shoulder. As a second shooter, the BEST thing you can do is get angles that she’s not getting. If you’re just duplicating her angle, she’s gonna pick hers every time.
A few more things! Haha.
1. Use a different lens than she uses. If she’s on a 50mm and you’re on an 85mm or longer, you’re gonna get a totally different look that adds variety to the blog post or gallery.
2. On wedding days, do the grunt work stuff. Go shoot cocktail hour while she’s killing reception details or working with the bride and groom. The more things you shoot that she never saw in the first place, the more you’ll contribute to the variety of the gallery and the client’s overall experience –– and the better you will be as a team!
Whether you’re a husband and wife team like we are, or you’re simply second shooting for other photographers, we really believe these tips will help make you an invaluable part of any shooting team!
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