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7 Tips For Becoming the Perfect Second Shooter

I’ve taken hundreds of hours of photo courses, but I’ve learned more from second shooting and assisting than I ever did in a classroom. If you’re looking for a way to become a better photographer, or if your work has hit a bit of a slump, there is nothing I could recommend more than getting out there and working for someone you respect.

Of course, before you go out into the world guns a blazing trying to get gigs with all the celebrity photographers in your area keep in mind that few things will tank your professional relationships faster than being a crap second shooter. Never fear though, because last week we polled the Rad Nation to help put together a list of some of the most important things to know when working as a second shooter.

Jules Bianchi

Know how to work a camera

First and foremost second shooting is a great way to learn MORE about photography, but it isn’t smart to try and second shoot the first time you try and pick up a camera. You don’t need to be a master photographer to second shoot, but you should at least know the very basics.

“I think the perfect second shooter is someone who is already a strong main shooter in his or her own right. This means they would be able take over and shoot formals and portraits alongside me if we are running behind schedule or FOR me should something terrible happen like if I were to injure myself.”

-Jules Bianchi

Be Professional

No matter how much fun you’re having, at the end of the day photography is still a job. Money changes hands, a product is created, and most importantly there is a client who is developing an opinion of the main photographer. Your actions are a reflection of whatever studio you’re working for, and you should never be anything but a professional.

The perfect photographer is, “Someone who NEVER — not even ONCE — takes out their iPhone at any time other than when they’re in the toilet stall.”

-Bobby Earle

Pay Attention!

It is really really easy to get caught up in the moment when on a shoot, but don’t forget to pay attention to who you’re working for. You need to keep in mind that your photography needs to complement theirs. Don’t think in terms of the best photo, but what is the best way to offer the best coverage.

The number one thing I love about my second shooters is that they’re so incredibly aware of what’s going on around them. They keep an eye on what I’m doing and go completely opposite: if I’m shooting wide, they’ll shoot long. If I’m shooting family portraits, they’ll shoot candids of those waiting. If I’m chasing a scene, they’ll get the safe shot.

-Laurel McConnell

Don’t Forget It Isn’t Your Shoot

You would be shocked by how many people think it is okay to promote themselves when working for someone else, it isn’t! Nothing will burn bridges faster than handing out your personal business cards on someone else’s shoot.

A good second shooter understands that he or she is there as a representative of the primary photographer’s studio and should never use the opportunity to network or promote their own business.”

-Chenin Boutwell

Have a Good Attitude

Photography is stressful, and you’ll never go wrong trying to help the main photographer stay sane. Keep a smile on your face, don’t complain, and don’t let yourself get stressed out. You want the main shooter to look back and think to his or her self that they would have lost their mind if you weren’t there to keep up their spirits.

Your stock goes up if you can keep the most stressful situations light, pick up the slack when needed and have a genuinely good time doing it….even if it is 110 degrees outside and the bride is 2 hours late.

-Amy Boring

Be A Mind Reader

I know that sounds silly, but it is no joke. Watch the photographer that you’re working for. If they look thirsty get them water, if you know they’re about to change subjects, get the next person prepped. If you lack the magical ability to read their thoughts, don’t be afraid to ask if there is anything they need, or that you can prep.

“The best advice is to communicate well with them and vice versa. Find happy ways to work together and do things for the main shooter before he may ask or find different angles in things for variety.”

-Sloan Photographers

How Do You Play Carnegie Hall?

Practice, Practice, Practice, In all of the craziness of a photo shoot, don’t forget why you’re there. You’re there to learn, and you’re there to practice.

“Mark and I were able to jump-start our Mark Brooke Biz by hours and hours of practice. We 2nd shot all the time for friends or for each other. 2nd shooting can never hurt your future business…. it can only open up doors to learn and grow your skills.”

-Candice Brooke, Mark Brooke Photographers

We’d love to hear about your own experiences second shooting, and your thoughts on what makes the perfect second shooter. Let us know on Twitter with the hashtag #gettotallyrad, or swing by our Facebook and leave a comment.

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