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FAQ: How To Start Second Shooting

5 tips to get you second shooting!

It was just over 3 years ago I finally invested in my first DLSR.

I knew right from the beginning I wanted to be a wedding photographer. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy family, newborn, maternity shoots but I knew weddings had a special place in my heart. If I had not pursed photography I would have pursed wedding planning/coordinating… and I am still holding my sister to it when she says I can plan her wedding one-day.
All that to say, within just a few short months of pursing photography I was quickly in touch with a few of my favorite local wedding photographers asking them if I could assist or second shoot with them. Not all of them were a go but a few were.

I not only second shot here in my hometown but also did a couple times in L.A. California while we lived out there for a brief time. I look back now and honestly, can say it is because of my second shooting experience that I actually have the confidence to shoot my own weddings and I am a firm believer that if wedding photography is something you want to get into, to start with second shooting. Here are a few pointers to get you started.

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1. Be Bold.

I have only ever had one photographer ask me (without me asking them first) to second shoot with her. Most, if not all of the time it is our job to contact wedding photographers and offer our assistance. Scrolling through Instagram watching all your other friends shooting weddings, second shooting, etc. (which I totally do) won’t get you anywhere. You have to reach out.

For example: while looking for a second shooter for a wedding I shot in September, I turned to the Facebook Shoot and Share page. Sure enough, within minutes I had amazing photographers commenting on my post offering me their services. Suddenly while glancing through a few websites a message popped up in my Facebook inbox. It was a photographer who had seen my post and was personally asking me if she could second shoot with me. I was impressed with her boldness to personally message me. Sure enough, we chatted back and forth and I quickly decided she was someone I wanted to meet and potentially have shot with me.


2. Be Respectful.

So with the first point, I shared comes respect. I don’t know if it always the right thing to contact someone on his or her personal Facebook page regarding second shooting. However, I have done it and I have others do it for me. For me, it has never been a problem. I am happy to answer peoples questions whenever and absolutely love getting FAQ in my inbox. However, I cannot voucher for every other photographer. I think once you have established a friendship/relationship with the photographer then it is a different story. Again all of this to say be respectful. Email them professionally through their website contact, or Facebook Business page. And know they may not always get back to you or say no which brings me to point number 3.


3. Be Ok with No.

Photographers will say no to your services. Even if you think you are the BEST second shooter ever often photographers have reasons they stick with a specific second shooter and it is nothing personal to you. For instance, the one photographer that has asked me to work with her, I would have asked a long time ago if she ever needed assistance to keep me in mind, but I knew from the gecko her hubby was always her second shooter. So sure I could have asked and threw my name out there but I could expect she was going to say no and I was going to have to be ok with it. On the other hand, she did ask me eventually so if I had contacted her and she said no then didn’t mean she would say no forever. I have contacted numerous photographers and just got a plain: “I already have a consistent second shooter” answer, or to be honest many of them already have a list of second shooters interested. Again I have to be ok with it. Don’t give up!


4. Word of Mouth is a Great Tool.

This is a biggie once you have second shot a few weddings. Be a second shooter with integrity, if you want advice on how to be a great second shooter I will be following up with another post in a few weeks and you can check back. Trust if you are great second shooter (by great I don’t mean the BEST photography skills, I mean honest, loyal, etc.) I promise you it will go a long way. Jasmine Star talks a lot about how when photographers can trust their second shooters it makes all the difference. Just like any other job, if you are a hard, trustworthy employee it will not go unnoticed. You can expect that photographer will most likely ask you back and possibly even pass on your name to other photographers.


5. Work for Free.

My first experience back here in B.C. second shooting was as a third shooter. I again had reached out, offered my services and was BEYOND stoked to work with this photographer. Had I expected to be paid? NOT AT ALL. Sure enough, I third shot 3 weddings and would have done more if she had asked for FREE. Again, I did not expect a thing but as thoughtful as she is she kindly gifted me a hefty Starbucks gift card. Again, not expected. All I wanted was the experience and the chance to build a relationship with her. I highly recommend you go into second/third shooting with the same expectation in mind. Once the photographer gets to know you and has worked with you (as long as they are not someone who is taking advantage of you… choose wisely) you can hope that your free services made an impact on them and that they will potentially choose you again in the future. Which in my case is what happened. ALSO, being a third shooter opens you up to meet the second shooter and again all the more contacts all the better!


I am a huge fan of second shooting and believe that is wedding photography is a passion of yours to second shoot more then a handful of weddings to get your feet wet. Learn from the photographer through out the day, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Often photographers are aware that a lot (not all) second shooters are first shooters in the making. Hope this helps!