Becoming an Exceptional Second Shooter: A Guide for Photographers

Welcome to the world of second shooting! Being a second shooter isn’t just about snapping photos; it’s about becoming an invaluable asset to the lead photographer and capturing moments that complete the story of the day. Whether you are just starting out or looking to up your second shooting game, this guide will walk you through the steps to becoming an exceptional second shooter. 

becoming an exceptional shooter is capturing makeup artist glamming up bride
bridal party adjusts bride's hair and dress by Minnesota wedding photographer
wedding gown hangs up by Rule Creative Co
becoming an exceptional shooter captures details like back of wedding dress and man's hand on small of bride's back

Before the Wedding Day 

Preparing for the Shoot 

Communication is key to a successful partnership with the lead photographer. Take the time to discuss shooting styles, expectations, and gear preferences beforehand. Familiarize yourself with the wedding timeline to ensure you’re prepared for each part of the day. 

Gear Essentials for Second Shooters

Pack your gear bag with essentials like extra batteries, memory cards, and lenses. It’s also a good idea to have backup equipment in case of emergencies.


Dress the part and arrive early! A professional appearance and a positive attitude go a long way in establishing trust with the lead photographer. Teamwork is key to becoming an exceptional second shooter. 

groomsmen show off the inside of their suit coats by Minnesota wedding photographer
details of ceremony and wedding layout by Rule Creative Co
becoming an exceptional shooter is capturing wedding party celebrating a kiss

Day of the Wedding

Be Observant and Proactive

Keep an eye out for candid moments and unique angles that complement the lead photographer’s shots. Be ready to assist when needed by holding light reflectors, changing lenses, or adjusting settings. Always be mindful of not obstructing the main shots.

Capture Specific Moments

Focus on capturing details and emotions that the lead photographer may miss. From intimate getting-ready shots to candid guest interactions, your perspective adds depth to the storytelling. It’s all about the details! 

newlyweds smile together in the snow by Minnesota wedding photographer
bride and groom touch noses as they smile at each other by Rule Creative Co
becoming an exceptional shooter is capturing the exchange of vows from the front of the ceremony space

After the Wedding

Respect the Workflow

Follow the lead photographer’s post-processing guidelines if they have them, and refrain from editing or sharing client images without permission. Respect their vision and process to maintain consistency in the final product.

Building Relationships

This is a critical part of becoming an exceptional second shooter! Express gratitude to the lead photographer for the opportunity and seek feedback for future growth. Offer to help with culling or basic edits if needed, but always confirm first. You want to establish a positive relationship and demonstrate your helpfulness! 

groomsman has fanny pack full of booze by Minnesota wedding photographer
guests toast with the bride during reception by Rule Creative Co
becoming an exceptional shooter is capturing guests talking with bride
bridesmaids laugh as bride sprays champagne by Minnesota wedding photographer

Bonus Tips

Importance of Networking

Building connections with other photographers is invaluable. Attend industry events, join online communities, and collaborate on projects to expand your network and opportunities. Give the lead photographer positive things to say about you to the other photographers in their network. Word of mouth and referrals are crucial parts of booking more jobs. 

Marketing Yourself as a Second Shooter

Create a portfolio showcasing your best work as a second shooter. Highlight your ability to complement the lead photographer’s style and capture unique moments. Utilize social media and word-of-mouth referrals to market yourself to potential collaborators.

bride and groom's feet walk on path by Rule Creative Co
becoming an exceptional shooter is capturing groom snuggling a baby
newlyweds have first dance together by Minnesota wedding photographer

Becoming an exceptional second shooter is about more than just taking photos; it’s about being a reliable partner, a creative collaborator, and a storyteller in your own right. By following these guidelines and continuously honing your skills, you’ll become an indispensable asset to any photography team. Happy shooting!

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Mn based Wedding + elopement Photographer