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How to Be an Amazing Second Shooter and Why it’s Important

A second shooter is a photographer that is asked to shoot along side a main photographer to assist and get a second angle for the main shooter. Most weddings include two shooters because of all that is going on in a wedding day. Its very beneficial to the main photographer to have a helping hand, but it’s even more beneficial to the second shooter. Second shooting is the #1 way that photographers can learn, improve and grow their portfolio. Not to mention that all it costs is your time!!


  • experience a wedding day unfold from beginning to end
  • find creative angles, practice new techniques and have more freedom to experiment
  • learn how to photograph in different types of light, venues and new situations
  • watch an experienced photographer direct, photograph and handle hard situations
  • learn new systems and adopt what you think works best into your own business
  • build your portfolio with gorgeous wedding images without having the pressure of being the main shooter

How to Be a Second Shooter


  • If you commit to second shooting, show up…be on time and stay as long as you promised.
  • Photograph at DIFFERENT angles than the main shooter. What’s going on behind the main photog? To the side? Zoom in on the subjects. Get the small details. Be creative.
  • Look for ways to help the main shooter besides just taking pictures. Could they use help carrying their bags? Direct traffic? Distracting a bossy family member? Water break?
  • Represent THEIR brand. It’s not the time to talk about your photography business. You are representing their company. Ask for their business cards to pass out if someone asks for more information.
  • Set your time with the main shooter and shoot in RAW so the edit is smooth after the wedding.
  • Have fun with it! It’s your chance to try new things. Remember you’re not just shooting for them, you’re shooting to learn and to grow your portfolio!
  • Grab some behind the scenes shots for the main photographer


EVERY lead photographer will have different expectations and systems for their second shooters, but this is what works best for us! Make sure you find out what your main photographer expects from you!

What am I allowed (and not allowed) to do with my images after the wedding? Can I use them in my portfolio?

After we have shared all the wedding day images with our clients, on our blog and social media accounts, we will give you the go-ahead to use your edited images in your portfolio (Facebook,Instagram, blog, website, album, etc). However, you may NOT add the clients and tag them in your photos and must credit the main photographer in every post.

Do I need to mention you when I post the images? Do I need to state that I was the second shooter or associate?

Yes. Because there was a main photographer directing, posing, styling, choosing lighting and planning the session or wedding, they deserve the credit as the lead photographer when you post. 

How long should I wait before posting the images?

After we have shared all the wedding day images with our clients, on my blog and Facebook page! For us its about a week to a week and a half. ;) 

Can I edit my own images?

Yes, for your portfolio, you may edit your own images. However, for the bride and groom, you will turn over all your culled, RAW files and we will edit them with the rest to keep our styles consistent.

When and how should I deliver the images to you?

You will shoot with your own cards and equipment (unless otherwise arranged). Please bring extra cards and batteries as a back up. You will return all the sorted RAW images to us within 24 hours of the wedding in our shared Google Drive Photo or right after the wedding on our laptop.


Hiliary is our newest KA Photographer. She second shot for 9 months and took any opportunity she could get before going to her first solo wedding. In that time she has worked with many different photographers with many different styles. She’s had the chance to second shoot at least 15 times! This is what she’s learned:

1) It’s A Huge Opportunity To Learn: 

I would literally carry someone’s bags around ALL day if I could learn from someone running a successful business. When I started second shooting I had really low expectations. How was I going to get photographers to trust me enough to let me accompany them on a shoot? As soon as someone posted that they needed a second shooter there would be at least 15 comments on it. I was willing to just be an assistant and carry stuff around if that meant I got to see them in action. Actually getting to shoot and use images in my portfolio is a huge step up. If you’re wanting to second shoot for someone I suggest email five photographers and offering to just come along and be helpful. After your able to assist them you have the perfect opportunity to ask if you could bring your camera along the next time. 

2) Perfect Opportunity To Be Creative:

The best part about second shooting is that the pressure isn’t on you to lead, leaving the opportunity for you to be creative. When I was starting out I really struggled compositionally. I would see images with amazing lead lines and I was like “Wow, I could never slow down enough to set something like that up”. Sure enough second shooting provided me the opportunity to slow down and set up a cool shot. 

3) Step Back and Watch The Family Around You:

A lot of times the family at weddings aren’t being themselves when they are in front of a camera. Nieces and nephews cry during family portrait time. Dad’s seem to look a bit more stiff as soon as they walk in front of the camera. The best images I ever get from second shooting are the sweet embraces a dad gives his daughter behind the camera. The cute nieces and nephews that start dancing when they don’t have the pressure to perform. The parents reaction as the couple walks out of the temple and the lead photographer is capturing the couple. Take initiative to get different angles while the lead photographer is getting all the must have pictures. 

How to Be a Second Shooter & Why It’s Important

July 6, 2017

Kylee Maughan

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