Second shooters: why they are worth it

Sean Junqueira captured this celebrity-esque moment as I step out of the 1976 Corvette Stingray.

Sean Junqueira captured this celebrity-esque moment as I step out of the 1976 Corvette Stingray.

As photographers, we find ourselves shooting events/gigs solo because often times it’s just not in the budget to pay someone else to shoot with us.

I totally understand this mentality. And currently that’s why I still shoot most of my events solo.

Cost aside, here are some great reasons why a second shooter is worth it.

First, about your shooter: It’s important to hire someone you can trust. If you haven’t built up a relationship with a new second shooter yet, bring them on to a less essential shoot. That way you can see what they are capable of and work out the wrinkles in a less stressful situation before the big event. Your relationship with your shooter(s) is very visible to your employer, so it’s important that you communicate clearly and establish expectations in advance to the gig.

Why a second shooter

They can be where you are not: pretty simple, you can’t be in two places at once. Unless you’re Hermione with a Time Turner (please let me know if you have one, I could use it). This is one of the biggest reasons to have a second shooter. They can shoot from the back of the sanctuary wide while you shoot tight up the aisle. They can work the photo booth while you capture candids of the crowd dancing. Then there’s just the fact that they will get a great shot that you couldn’t because you were across the room getting the “main action.”

Two minds, two different pictures: very simply, by having two people shoot you will generate two different sets of images. The details you are drawn to will be photographed differently by your second shooter. You can learn to see things a whole new light by bringing in another perspective.

Second shooters can be more creative: while you are getting the “necessary” shots, they can try for the shots that are more creative/experimental. This is sometimes where the best work can be produced. Since the pressure is off of them to get “the” shot, they can approach a scene from a different angle and generate a perspective you would not have been able to produce shooting solo. 

Subject relaxation: sometimes to get the most natural and realistic portrait of someone, it takes making them laugh and relax in front of the camera. Often times that can come from you and your second shooter laughing and having a good time! The best example of this was when I worked for Cole Gorman of Blest Photography, as a second shooter, as we did bridal portraits for one of his clients. The bride to be had a killer “schmize” (no smile, straight face) look, but the smile could seem forced at times. However, her genuine smile was BEAUTIFUL. So if Cole was shooting her, I’d be there talking and laughing with her to get that natural smile to break through. Most of the time the joke was at mine or Cole’s expense, but all clean and in good humor. That’s the key.

The best smiles are brought on by laughter, which your second shooter can help with.

Sometimes the best smiles are brought on by laughter, which your second shooter can help with.

It can be difficult shooting solo to maintain laughter while focusing on getting the shot, so bring on that second photographer to help relax the scene.

Cole has some fun while showing the bride what pose he has in mind.

Cole has some fun while showing the bride what pose he has in mind.

Two’s company: it’s just flat out more fun to have someone else there to shoot with you! Whether it’s to share in a funny moment that just happened with your client, or to pass the time in a slow patch of the event, having a second shooter makes it more enjoyable. It also generates more energy! As long as one of you is always positive, you can really help each other have fun and push through an event.

Sean Junqueira doing whatever it takes to get the shot of this 1976 Corvette Stingray.

Sean Junqueira doing whatever it takes to get the shot of this 1976 Corvette Stingray.

Shots of yourself: sounds a little selfish, but hopefully your second shooter will get some shots of you working. This door goes both ways as well. Get some shots of your second shooter! We are behind the camera all the time, so to have a high quality shot of ourselves (usually candidly) while working is a gift. Focus on getting the shot your clients are paying you for, but when time allows it grab a shot of your co-worker.

Very grateful for this candid shot Cole Gorman snapped of me at a wedding I was second shooting for him.

Very grateful for this candid shot Cole Gorman snapped of me while we were working.

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