Wedding Photographer – Second Shooting – A Great Way to Learn

On July 4th I had the opportunity to photograph a wedding as a second shooter for Sage Photography in Manchester, NH ( For the longest time I have avoided shooting weddings despite it being the perfect opportunity to capture love and romance – two subject matters that I always seek to embrace in my work.

While shooting weddings has always intrigued me, the high liability of this once-in-a-lifetime event has kept me away. There are just way too many things that could go wrong:

  • Missing an important moment
  • Getting lost / arriving late
  • Car problems / missing the event
  • Camera failure
  • Flash failure
  • Battery failure
  • Memory card failure
  • Computer failure – losing Images
  • Being unprepared for poor lighting conditions
  • Not having the best lens for a given situation (See previous)
  • and the list could go on….

While most of the concerns listed above could be wiped away with proper planning and extra gear, Murphy’s Law still exists, and that is what has kept me from shooting weddings and capturing some of the most beautiful and intimate moments two people can share.

I recently decided that if I really wanted to photograph weddings I should do it as a second shooter. This would give me the ability to help capture the romance and moments of this once-in-a-lifetime event while having few of the stresses and worries of the hired photographer. A second shooter is also free to shoot a bit more creatively, as the hired photographer bears the brunt of responsibility for the ‘required’ shots. In the end, everyone benefits from a second shooter. The bride can rest easy that her wedding will be captured without fail and with a creative team that is sure to deliver spectacular imagery; the main photographer can rest a bit easier knowing that they have a backup to their backups; and the second shooter can gain the experience he or she is looking for while making some extra cash to help cover the cost of all the extra gear one should have when shooting weddings.

Even as a second shooter I will always treat each wedding as if I was the hired photographer – feeling the same responsibility for professionalism, artistry, reliability, and preparedness as the main photographer. I also know that it is not my name on the contract so in the end I am there to help and assist the main photographer in any way possible.

In a day where everyone with a nice camera thinks they’ll try their hand at wedding photography, they might consider thinking about their responsibility before thinking about any extra cash they could make. Are they really prepared NOT to screw up the photographs from this special day? Even if they have a backup camera, do they have a full understanding of how their gear works in all lighting situations? do they have the proper cameras and lenses to deal with a no-flash rule of a church of synagogue? what happens if their memory card fails 1/3 of the way into the wedding? Do they have a backup flash and an external battery for the flash to guarantee that it will recycle quick enough to capture those special moments?

These are the things I worry about and I believe that these are the issues anyone should be able to answer before deciding to put a couples wedding at risk for the sake of some extra cash.


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