Taking on a second shooter is a wonderful way to augment a wedding shoot. Another camera manned by a trained eye adds depth, variety, and character to the hectic wedding workflow. Choosing the right shooting companion goes a long way towards growing an established photography business.
That being said, how does one select the right second shooter? Certain marks characterize a dependable hire, but finding someone who works well with your style is equally important. For tips on what to look for, we went to Jasmine Star. Jasmine is a renowned industry guru, voted among the Top 10 Wedding Photographers in the World. Her work is prolific, gracing the pages of everything from Town & Country to Cosmopolitan Bride. Here, Jasmine lets us in on the secrets of what to look for when hiring a second shooter.
An Attractive Portfolio
Portfolios indicate skill, style, and a wealth of information about an artist. If you like the look of a photographer’s portfolio, there’s a good chance you’ll like what he or she gives you on the wedding day. Portfolio size is also important. The ability to assemble a concise selection of one’s best work indicates the ability to self-edit, which is paramount to productive shooting. If the potential second shooter’s portfolio rivals the size of War and Peace, the photographer may be given to overshooting, leaving you with too many photos to process and deal with. A good second shooter should to make your job easier, not more difficult.
How unique is the second shooter candidate’s work? An outlandish style that conflicts with your own is not exactly ideal, but a photographer who has a clear and unique aesthetic, coupled with technical prowess, is guaranteed to bolster the quality of your combined output.
Good First Impression
While there’s a lot to be learned from glancing a portfolio, meeting in person provides significant clues around how a second shooter will act and perform on the job. For example, if a candidate appears presentable and has done a respectable amount of research about your work before meeting you, it’s probable this person will show up on shooting day prepared. Take stock of a candidate’s appearance and demeanor. Respect and social sensitivity are necessary when shooting a wedding, as is making sure this person is someone with whom you’d enjoy spending a day.
The duty of a second shooter is to be attentive to the needs of the main photographer, and to provide additional angles and shots, acting as your second set of eyes and ears. If, in the course of a conversation, you sense the candidate is overpowering your vision with his or her own, or cutting in when you talk, consider it a red flag. Decorum is crucial when smoothly navigating a wedding day, but the most important facet of the relationship between the first and second shooter is alignment on shared goals and vision.
Your second shooter is not there to get clients. He or she is shooting with you because they are looking to deepen their skills — and earn some extra cash — through collaboration. The last thing you want is a second shooter who spends more time handing out business cards than taking photos. To guard against this, take account of how your candidate talks about herself or himself — and rule out any overactive egos!
How did you meet the candidate? A second shooter that seeks you out personally is proactive and persistent. How this person found you and with what level of preparedness is a good indication of just how determined and responsible he or she is. On the wedding day, an excellent shooter will do more than is requested, grabbing extra opportunities to snag a good shot, anticipating your needs before you’ve even voiced them. The ideal second shooter will arrive on the wedding day over-prepared, armed with supplies for worst-case scenarios, and filled to the brim with research, energy, and a positive demeanor.
At the end of the day, trust your gut. A shooting companion should be someone you enjoy being around and trust to do take the important shots needed to fulfill the needs of the client.