FAQ : Second Shooting


Last Saturday I had the opportunity to second shoot a wedding with a good friend and I’ll be blogging the wedding when she has her post published. As I left for the day, JD packed the bags in the car, shut the trunk, and wore a sly smile. Whaaaaat, I asked him. Oh, nothing, he said. And then proceeded to admit he was excited for me to spend a day in his shoes as a second shooter. Don’t forget to offer water is what he tells me as I back out from the garage.

I try to assist another photographer at least 1-2 times a year, so when Meg emailed me a couple weeks ago and asked for help, I was more than happy to oblige. Here’s a few observations about second shooting that I might have forgotten since my early days of wedding photography…
*It’s hard work. I carried a different mindset as an assistant and it forced me not just to think of my shots (which I do as a first photographer), but ensure the first photographer had hers and I wasn’t in her way. I felt like my brain worked overtime.
*Finding unique shots is difficult, but not impossible. I think and shoot like a first photographer, but that wasn’t my role on Saturday. I needed to create a new photo in the current context of first photographer’s pose. Sometimes this required me to run around to a few different angles to find a photo that reflected my style and diversified the portfolio, but hustling is part of a second photographer’s game.
*Communication is important. More than anything, the second shooter needs to express where she’ll be and when. There were times throughout the day when I split from the first photographer, but texting my whereabouts and what I was photographing ensures assurance. It’s the second photographer’s job to remind the first photographer, she has her back. Always.
*Be a friend. A first photographer knows she can probably shoot the entire wedding without a second shooter…but having a second shooter totally helps. It’s a backup plan and a safety net, but for the majority of the day it’s a way to have someone to talk to. Better yet, someone to throw ideas around with or simply converse about the harsh lighting. Being a friend on a wedding day is almost as important as being a solid assistant.

Not too long ago, JD gave his opinion on second shooting (here and here), but I thought I’d add to it since…well…I don’t know why I’m adding to it. I guess it’s Monday and I felt like talking. WHAT ELSE IS NEW?!

And because every post is better with a picture, here’s a sneak peek of Saturday’s wedding.

Happy Monday!

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  1. Abby Grace Photography

    May 2nd, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    That’s so legit that you second shot for someone. I love your humility 🙂

  2. Danica

    May 2nd, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    😀 Aww Jasmine, I love hearing your positive words about everything, even something so hard as second shooting!
    My little sister is learning how to be my second shooter this Summer, and as the first shooter, I want to make it as painless of an experience as possible for her, but I still need to have my head completely focused on the wedding. So just reading these encourages me and is helping me know how to encourage her and build her up in this! 🙂
    THANKS for being so honest and real, we, as your readers, appreciate it!

  3. Annie Simard

    May 2nd, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    Thanks to share… I’m just more excited to get in a shoot as a second shooter. Your class on CreativeLive gave me also great tips! 😉 Bonne journée du Canada

  4. sherri lynn

    May 2nd, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    Love that smile on the bride’s face!

  5. //Dani

    May 2nd, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    Only one reason I like Mondays: You are posting again. So thanks for that and for you feeling like talking ^^

  6. Michelle Feeney

    May 2nd, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    Happy Monday and I’m sure Meg really appreciated you being there. 🙂

  7. anda

    May 2nd, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    although i will/might always prefer shooting alone, i do agree on the friend aspect. having someone to talk to and laugh with during those in-between times (dinner, before ceremony, etc) when you’re not with the bride and groom is super nice. i’ve only ever been a second shooter once. i’d love to have the chance to second shoot a couple times a year though!

  8. Denise Nicole

    May 2nd, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    Oh I love this. I just blogged about this exact thing yesterday. I 2nd shot with Trevor Dayley and it was an amazing experience. It is definitely a challenge. Especially since I like to be in control. Ha ha! I told him I would probably end up amending the post as things keep popping up in my head the more I think about it. After reading your post, I already want to add a few things. LOL! You are fabulous. And this image is insane!

  9. Kim

    May 2nd, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    Great blog Jasmine! Wish I had read it sooner. Think I get so caught up in my own thing that I forget to be the "second" shooter. Will definitely approach it differently next time round..

  10. Nick Barcelona

    May 2nd, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    Ever interested in hiring a colorblind 2nd shooter? I would love to assist a legend as well as putting my perspective into play!

  11. Gaby Fuentes { NJ Wedding Photographer }

    May 2nd, 2011 at 5:20 pm

    This Saturday, my husband and I shot a major event and because the stakes were so high, we worked as two first shooters….and it worked great.

  12. Tanya Petraglia

    May 2nd, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    Ohh this is so helpful, I love it.

  13. Kate Douthwright

    May 2nd, 2011 at 5:47 pm

    It’s nice to take a step back and appreciate all that JD does for you. Sounds like he was loving it! 🙂 Can’t wait to see how your pictures came out from the 2nd shooter point of view.

  14. catrina

    May 2nd, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    TO JD: Yay I did something right! I totally packed a little cooler with ice cold water and offered it to the 1st shooter throughout the day :O) Thanks for making me feel good.

    I just did my first second shooting gig this weekend thanks to your inspiring workshop. I didn’t have the courage to do it until now. I tried to remember what would Jasmine do all day. Thankfully everything seemed to work out nicely. I love that you shared these tips. TY!

  15. Sarah Danaher

    May 2nd, 2011 at 5:59 pm

    "I guess it’s Monday and I felt like talking. " LOL. Good words. =)

  16. Robert

    May 2nd, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    Good stuff — especially being a freind. If the shoot gets tough second shooters can calm things down.

  17. AlexFrame

    May 2nd, 2011 at 6:16 pm

    It’s ok to second shoot) New experience anyway!

  18. Ariana Watts

    May 2nd, 2011 at 6:20 pm

    Great post! Definitely something that’s been on my mind recently. Have had a couple opportunities recently and the experience has been invaluable!

  19. amanda thiessen

    May 2nd, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    love that you still second shoot each year! and beautiful photo! can’t wait to see the rest!

  20. Sarah

    May 2nd, 2011 at 7:24 pm

    I am looking to second shoot some weddings this summer (as well as fly solo) so I am looking forward to obtaining the perspective of both!

  21. AnneMarie

    May 2nd, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    Have you and JD switched roles ~ you as 2nd shooter & JD as 1st?

  22. Viktor Enns

    May 2nd, 2011 at 7:28 pm

    hi Jasmine

    is it possible you appreciate JD’s help even more since your CL workshops?


  23. Angel Canary

    May 2nd, 2011 at 8:45 pm

    I love these posts about second shooting! I STILL have never had a chance to second shoot for anyone and I always thought that it would be fun. I just read hard work, haha, so thank you for the heads up. 😉

  24. Life with Kaishon

    May 2nd, 2011 at 9:12 pm

    I bet you were an awesome second shooter : )

  25. Yen

    May 2nd, 2011 at 9:25 pm

    this picture is so sweet! this was a great post 🙂

  26. appleM00N

    May 2nd, 2011 at 9:49 pm

    Every Batman needs a Robin…

  27. Melissa Lahring

    May 2nd, 2011 at 10:06 pm

    This was so great to read. I just had my first ever second shooter experience on a wedding recently (right after your Creative Live workshop, in fact!) and I can now relate first hand to everything you’ve mentioned. It’s completely different, and you nailed the "why" and the "how" right on the head.

  28. Rick

    May 2nd, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    What an awesomely (is that a word) timed post. I have just started searching for second shooter opportunities and this info will prove invaluable…thanks, Jasmine, for sharing your husband! The idea of shooting a wedding is both overwhelming and exciting at the same time.

  29. Pamela Topping

    May 2nd, 2011 at 11:13 pm

    Such a beautiful shot!

  30. Lloyed Valenzuela

    May 3rd, 2011 at 2:28 am

    Well said!!! My career in wedding photography started as a second shooter.

    Its good to know that as popular and as good as JS, you still shoot as a second shooter…the more i adore you!!!

  31. Red Chestnut Photography

    May 3rd, 2011 at 3:38 am

    I was thrilled to see this post because I just had the opportunity to second shoot this weekend! I was so privileged to work for a veteran wedding photographer who shared insights and ideas with me as well as giving me an opportunity to be a part of a beautiful exciting event! You express such a sweet humility and realness in your blogs, Jasmine. It is touching to see in someone so widely admired, capable, and successful! Thank you for sharing this with us so we may learn more about how to be the best support and photographer in this type of situation. Your blog and creative training are much appreciated!

  32. Lydia

    May 3rd, 2011 at 4:13 am

    What a lucky bride to have both you and Meg!

  33. Columbus GA Wedding Photographer

    May 3rd, 2011 at 4:14 am

    Sounds like you had a great time. I’m sure your even a sharper photog now. Doing stuff out of the norm gets the brain working and forces you to get creative.

  34. Terri

    May 3rd, 2011 at 5:00 am

    I’ve been getting an itch to second shoot a wedding! Glad you got one in.

  35. Shari Cannon

    May 3rd, 2011 at 5:09 am

    I’ve tried so hard to get my start as a second shooter but many photographers just don’t want to share the knowledge..so competitive out here..it’s discouraging.


    May 3rd, 2011 at 7:27 am

    Great sharing! I like the communication point. Good communication leads to smooth and efficient cooperation. After all, this is what you need the most when you have a second shooter . 🙂

  37. Fotograf slubny Krakow

    May 3rd, 2011 at 12:43 pm

    Sometimes may wife help me like a second photographer in outdoor. Many good shots she takes and I may focus on the most important part of scenes.

  38. Brittani

    May 3rd, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    I didn’t know you make it a point to do that. Awesome. =)

  39. Autumn Teesdale

    May 3rd, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    Can’t wait to see the post from the wedding! I love shooting weddings not matter if i’m first or fourth!! LOL

  40. Abby Grace Photography

    May 6th, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    This was awesome! I’m on my first year of booking weddings of my own, and I still love the chance to second shoot for other people. I really liked the piece of advice JD gave once that said somethin glike "check your ego at the door." I’m definitely guilty of NOT doing that…

  41. Jessica Sweeney

    May 7th, 2011 at 12:14 am

    Sounds like great practice to try out being the second shooter again.

  42. Laura

    May 15th, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    Thank-you for these tips – am just starting out second shooting and know they will come in handy!
    Also have a question. How do you direct your clients? How do you make them feel at ease infront of the camera?