There are a few things you probably wouldn’t want to do without any experience and wedding photography is definitely one of them. If you want to get into wedding photography, second shooting (i.e. Assisting) for a professional photographer is a great place to start. It will allow you to see what goes into the job without all the pressure that normally comes with it. I’ve been a wedding photographer in Vancouver for the past three years and have shot weddings as both the primary photographer and assistant.
Here are a few things that I look for in a second shooter:
1. Know your Equipment – You don’t necessarily have to be an expert, but you definitely need to know how to use your camera. Although it’s a great learning experience, second shooting isn’t your personal workshop – it’s still someone’s wedding. If the primary photographer is always showing his assistant what to do, the client is the one that suffers.
2. Be Reliable / Show up on Time – The only person that’s allowed to be late at a wedding is the bride.
3. Be Humble – It’s not your show and it’s not your wedding. Sometimes the primary photographer will ask you to do something other than *GASP* take pictures. Like holding an umbrella or grabbing a bottle of water for the bride. You’re there to help the photographer ensure their client’s day is going as awesome as possible.
4. Get creative – Ultimately, I hire second shooters to (duh) take pictures. And preferably not the exact same as mine. I personally love second shooting because it allows me to try shots I might not if I’m the primary photographer. Look for cool, unique angles – they don’t always have to work out.
5. Communicate – This is especially important during the ceremony, where the main photographer will sometimes need a spare battery or want you in a specific spot. Make eye contact with him/her every few minutes.
6. Know what’s going on – If you have questions, ask them. The more you know (especially concerning the schedule) the better chance you have of capturing unique moments.
7. Don’t be the center of attention– This may sound a little harsh but in most cases, the main photographer has built a relationship with the client over a number of months and has built a rapport with them.
* assisted Tanis Katie Photography
Questions to Ask the Primary Photographer
1. What the job entails?
This is a no brainer, but every job and photographer is different. If you’re assisting a Vancouver photographer, you can probably expect to hold an umbrella for part of the day. Some jobs involve a lot of actual shooting while some don’t involve any.
Even if you’re just starting out, you should be getting paid something. Once compensation has been established, trust that you’ll get paid and don’t badger the photographer about it.
3. Specific Shots
Some photographers will have certain shots they want you to get at different times in the day. It’s nice to have creative freedom to photograph a wedding in whatever you want but sometimes you’ll have specific instructions.
Other Frequently Asked Questions
1. Do second shooters need to sign contracts?
I don’t have my second shooters sign contracts but it definitely isn’t uncommon. If you are asked to sign one, look it over thoroughly and make sure you understand exactly what is expected of you.
2. How much do second shooters get paid?
This depends on a variety of things including: experience, number of hours, location etc. For wedding photography I pay my second shooters anywhere from $25 – $40 an hour. Like I wrote earlier, I believe even if you’re just starting out you should be getting compensated.
3. Is it necessary that I have my own equipment?
If you’re going to be actually photographing (and not “just” carrying bags, reflectors etc.) then yes. Absolutely. Five or six lenses aren’t necessary but a solid body with a couple of lenses is usually required.
4. Can I put pictures on my blog or website?
ASK first. Some photographers are very strict on image usage.
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