How to be an Amazing Second Photographer for Weddings

As a second photographer, your main goal is to support the lead photographer and help make sure that the wedding day runs smoothly. This can be a challenging role, but it can also be a lot of fun if you’re prepared. 

When hiring a second photographer for a wedding, there are some specific traits I usually look for. They need to work well under pressure, be organized and efficient and have an eye for detail. Second, photographers play a critical role in capturing the Wedding Day story, so I must find someone who will complement me and help create beautiful images that you’ll cherish forever.

We’ll share some tips for becoming a fantastic second photographer in this post. This article also talks about some of the things you should NOT do when being a second photographer, or else it would be a nightmare for lead photographers!

Communicate expectations clearly


Whenever you are offered a chance to shoot an event second, it’s important to discuss your rates with the main photographer first. Do you charge by the hour or by the day? In what instances do you need to charge an additional fee to the main photographer? 

You don’t want to undercut them or work for free, but you also don’t want to overcharge and alienate the client. There is a happy medium that you can find by discussing your rates honestly and openly. By communicating with the main photographer, you can ensure that everyone is on the same page and gets what they deserve for their hard work.

Water, Snacks, Meals:

The main photographer will likely have a plan for snacks and mealtimes, and it’s essential to stay on the same page so that everyone is comfortable and fed. In some cases, the second photographer may need to bring their food, particularly if they have specific dietary needs. By coordinating ahead of time, everyone can enjoy the shoot without worrying about their stomachs!


If you’re shooting at a location with limited parking, coordinate with the main photographer so that you don’t take up a spot they need for their equipment or crew. You may also want to let them know if you plan on using any props or equipment that will require a space close by. By communicating early and often, both photographers can work together to create a successful shoot.

How to Dress:

The style may be very formal for some weddings with all-black attire or all white. Other times, the groom and bride may have specific colors in mind that they would like their wedding party and family to dress in. As a second photographer, it is essential to be aware of these things and coordinate with the main photographer on what they would like you to wear. 

The main photographer may even provide a dress code for their entire crew in some cases. In these circumstances, it is best to follow their lead as they will likely have better insight into what will work well with the overall aesthetic of the team. 

Other responsibilities:

Just as you would communicate with any other vendor, communicate clearly with the main photographer before the event. Let them know what shots you would like and what your plans are. This will help avoid any confusion on the day of the event. Additionally, make sure you are on the same page regarding shot lists and sequencing. By taking care of these details ahead of time, everyone can relax and enjoy the event!

Ask Permission If You Want To Post the Wedding Photos You Took

If you’re a second photographer, it’s essential to get permission from the main photographer before posting any photos from the wedding online. This is especially true if they’re exclusive wedding shots that the bride and groom paid for. By asking permission, you can avoid any potential drama and make sure that you’re respecting the main photographer’s wishes. Remember – it’s always better to be safe than sorry!

Other Things You Need To Clarify Before The Wedding

Know Your Role in The Wedding

A wedding is a massive production, and there are many moving parts. It’s essential for everyone involved to know their role and responsibilities so that the day runs as smoothly as possible. As the second shooter, it’s your job to support the principal photographer and help make sure that everything goes according to plan. Here are some tips to help you do just that. 

Groom prep

Have you been a second shooter at weddings? If so, you’ve been asked to capture the groom’s preparation. It can be a challenging task, but with the proper planning and execution, it can be an enriching experience.

First, plan and scout out where the groom will be getting ready. This will allow you to develop creative ideas for shots and know what kind of lighting you’ll need. 

Next, make sure you have all of your gear packed and ready to go before the wedding. You won’t miss any opportunities while you’re setting up. 

Finally, stay calm and professional throughout the day – after all, the groom is counting on you to capture his preparations beautifully!

Cocktail hour or Portraits

If you’re a second shooter, chances are you’ll be shooting cocktail hour or portraits during the wedding.

Assisting in Off-Camera Flashes

Off-camera flashes are one of the most critical tools in a photographer’s toolbox when it comes to photography. However, they can be pretty complex and challenging to use. That’s where second photographers come in! By assisting the primary photographer with setting up and using off-camera flashes, you can help them capture stunning photos that wouldn’t be possible without them.

Responsible for backing up

When you’re the main photographer, it’s always good to have a backup. And by backup, I mean a second photographer. An excellent second shooter knows the shots that the main photographer wants and can help get those shots without worrying about being in the way. They can also fill in any gaps when the main photographer is busy with something else. 

Help the Main Photographer Pay Attention to Tiny Significant Details

No matter how excellent the photographer is, they are only human. This means that there will be times when something significant goes unnoticed during the wedding photography shoot. That’s where a second photographer comes in to help out. By paying attention to tiny details, a second photographer can help the central photographer capture all the day’s magic. Two creative minds with an eye for detail are better than one!

Don’t Ruin Shots of the Lead Photographer- Stay out of the way

Are you a second photographer trying to help out the lead shooter but not sure how to stay out of the way? Here are some tips to help you avoid ruining shots and maintain good communication with the lead photographer. 

It’s essential to be aware of your surroundings and where the lead photographer is shooting. When you’re in an open space, try to stay on the opposite side of the bride and groom, or at least out of the shot entirely. If you’re in a tight space, like a hallway or staircase, position yourself to don’t block anyone’s access. 

Do Not Promote Your Own Business

As a second photographer, it’s important to remember that you’re there to support the lead photographer. It would help if you didn’t promote your own business while shooting the wedding. Instead, focus on assisting the lead photographer and providing great images for the bride and groom. Doing this will create a positive experience for everyone involved and build long-term relationships with clients.

Take Some BTS Photos of The Lead Photographer

When it comes to second shooting for a wedding, you want to be sure that you are doing everything possible to help the lead photographer out. This means being in the right spot at the right time and taking some behind-the-scenes photos while working. By having these BTS photos, you can give your lead photographer a visual recap of the day and help them better plan for their shots. Plus, it’s always fun to see what goes on during a shoot! 

Don’t Do This. Please

Being Drunk- Before, After, During the Wedding

Arriving at a wedding already drunk will only lead to disaster. As a second photographer, it is essential to be aware of your surroundings and stay in control. If you’re not able to do that, then it’s best not to show up. Being intoxicated will only impair your judgment and ability to capture the photos you need to. You don’t want to cause any problems on such an important day, so always make sure you’re sober before arriving and stay that way. Being high

Being Smelly

Second shooters have an important job at a wedding. They need to be alert and ready to capture any moment that may happen. But, they also need to be aware of their smell. It’s easy to forget that you’re not the only one at the wedding, and sometimes you may stink up the place.

No Cleavage, No crack

As a second photographer, you want to ensure that you are following the same professional dress code as the lead photographer. This means avoiding exposing your cleavage or butt crack when shooting weddings. By dressing professionally, you will help maintain the respect and professionalism needed when working with clients.

Passing out business cards

If you’re a second shooter, never pass out your business cards while shooting. It is unprofessional, but it could also jeopardize your relationship with the primary photographer. Here’s why. 

Being a second photographer is to help the primary photographer capture all the shots they need, not to promote your own business. Plus, if you give out your cards while shooting, you may be more interested in self-promotion than in helping the primary photographer. 

Instead, wait until after the shoot to hand out your cards and introduce yourself properly, with the permission of the lead photographer, of course. This way, you’ll make a good impression, and you’ll be more likely to get future assignments from the primary photographer.

Talking too much to vendors or guests

As a second photographer, it’s essential to be professional and focused throughout the wedding day. This means avoiding any unnecessary conversation with guests or vendors and sticking to your job. By doing so, you’ll be able to provide better-quality images for the bride and groom. Plus, you won’t run the risk of annoying anyone!

Being always on your phone

If you’re a second photographer, it’s crucial to be aware of your surroundings and stay alert during shoots. Checking your phone constantly can be a significant distraction and cause you to miss important moments.

Fun fact: Here are three real horror stories of wedding second photographers (not my stories)

  • A second photographer told me that they were done and that I didn’t need them anymore, and so they left the wedding before their original end time
  • A second photographer shot in low resolution jpg, and all of the images were unusable
  • Once I had a second photographer who hooked up with a member of the wedding party after the wedding, and then he went to the wedding brunch the next day.
  • Second photographers who get very drunk during cocktail hour

Want to know my usual wedding day timeline? Click here to learn more!

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