Three Tips for being a Better Second Shooter + Coles Garden, OKC

It’s an understatement to say that I started doing things a little backwards in the photography world. I sort of just fell into weddings when a friend of mine called last minute and needed a wedding photographer because her original photographer was not the best fit. I shot my first wedding 18 months ago. I just jumped right on in and went for it. And guess what?? I survived. Do I look back at that wedding now and think about the hundreds of things I could have done differently, you bet! But I a still just as proud of myself for shooting that wedding today as I was 17 months ago when I delivered her the gallery. My style has developed, my posing has changed, and I definitely understand more about my camera than I did then but I can honestly say that my first wedding pushed me to where I am today. As a first or lead shooter at a wedding, there are so many things I am in charge of. The timeline, the different portrait sequences, location scouting, the details and so much more. It’s hectic and making sure you get everything in that you want to (especially as a new photographer) can be exhausting. A few months ago I had the opportunity to do something I honestly wish I would have done BEFORE I started lead shooting at weddings. I went out of my comfort zone, took a step back, and offered my services to a photographer I look up to here in Oklahoma (Tammy Odell). A few weeks later Tammy was looking for a second shooter and I was able to work with her at Cole’s Garden, a local wedding and event venue here in Oklahoma City.

Being a second shooter is a COMPLETELY different experience than being a lead shooter but it was a learning experience I value more than I originally anticipated I would. Think of it this way, jumping into a lead photographer position for me was like have the chocolate chip cookie without the chocolate chips. Second shooting has given me the chocolate I needed to make my cookie, and my business, SO MUCH BETTER. There are opportunities for you to see things in a different way which have helped me as a lead shooter in ways I never thought possible which leads me to my three tips for today’s post.

Tip One: Look for the different angles. As a second shooter, I am there to compliment the lead photographer and give them different views of things that they either missed because of time or have never thought of getting themselves.

Tip Two: Use a different lens than the lead shooter if possible. Different lenses allows for different amounts of an image to be seen. For instance, if the lead photographer is using an 85 mm, maybe I would use a 70-200 mm for closer tighter images or maybe I would use a 50 mm allowing for a wider angle than if I was closer with an 85 mm.

Tip Three: Ask the photographer which sections of the day she or he needs help with and when they don’t need you, find a way to be useful. If the lead photographer is doing family portraits one photographer could probably handle that just fine. This opens up time for you as a second shooter to capture more details or take pictures of guests during cocktail hour.

I will be the first to admit that going from being a lead shooter to being a second shooter for a wedding has not been the easiest task. As a second shooter, the majority of your images won’t be used and as a second shooter there really isn’t public recognition for your work. It’s been humbling for me to take a step back, work with photographers who I know I can learn from, and use the experience and images to further my skills instead of be recognized for what I have worked so hard towards over the last months and years. Being a second shooter has led to more opportunities than I would have imagined and those opportunities, referrals to other photographers, vendor relations, and hands on experience is something my business has greatly been blessed by.

Venue: Coles Garden, Oklahoma City

Photographer: Beth Hanson Photography second shooting for Tammy Odell

Florals and Greenery: Rootstock Florals

Cake: Andrea Howard Cakes

Macaroons: Cafe Disco

Dress: Chantilly Couture Bridal

Hair and Make Up: Brittany Aldridge Artistry

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