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Archive 2013 · On Second Shooters...
  
 
thebeginning
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · On Second Shooters...


Does anyone else prefer working alone at weddings?

That's what I started doing, and I have just grown to prefer its simplicity. I also always found it as a sales strategy more than an actual need. It's never really been a problem with bookings until now, for some reason - I'm getting a lot of requests for a second photographer, and know that I should offer it.


So I naturally have a few questions for those of you that do it consistently:

a) Do you write a contract out with your second shooters? I'd hate to include one in a package then have a no-show.

b) Do you charge exactly what you pay for a second shooter then pay them, or do you upsell? For example, if you plan on paying a second shooter $50/hr, do you bill the client $100/hr then pay them $50? I suppose it doesn't matter, just curious.

c) How did you find your current/preferred second shooter? I'd like to find someone that I can trust and use consistently, but most of the photographers I know are very busy with their own weddings.

d) With a second, do you have them take care of certain shots so that you can focus on others, or do you both work the same moments/shots together? E.g. do they photograph the groomsmen while you photograph the bridesmaids, or do you stick together until the ceremony and during the reception?


Any tips, ideas, or suggestions are very much appreciated!



Mar 01, 2013 at 04:39 PM
Robin Usagani
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · On Second Shooters...


a. Contract is a good idea if you use a complete stranger for the first time. Probably best to use one every time. I dont follow this rule. I dont have a contract most of the time.
b.Upsell. You actually do more work! You have to cull through more photos and probably edit more photos
c. Usually I use someone I already know
d. I give them tasks. Sometimes the groom get ready somewhere else so I depend on my 2nd to take care the groom shots.



Mar 01, 2013 at 06:03 PM
awad
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · On Second Shooters...


i dont have a second shooter per se as my girlfriend and I work as a team. but to answer D.

i usually drop her off in the morning at the brides place, greet the bride and bridal party and then help her carry the dress around for her while she does details. I then go off and shoot the groom and groomsmen and we meet up again at the ceremony.




Mar 01, 2013 at 06:24 PM
Ziffl3
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · On Second Shooters...


Robin Usagani wrote:
d. I give them tasks. Sometimes the groom get ready somewhere else so I depend on my 2nd to take care the groom shots.

all depends... maybe your 2nd shooter has some skills .... might bring new breadth in your shooting style/technique.


otherwise, i can see if you shoot with another lead shooter that you know, you might create a working relationship. He/she shoots 2nd on a particular wedding and then you swap and shoot 2nd for them.



Mar 01, 2013 at 06:31 PM
thebeginning
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · On Second Shooters...


Ziffl3 wrote:
all depends... maybe your 2nd shooter has some skills .... might bring new breadth in your shooting style/technique.

otherwise, i can see if you shoot with another lead shooter that you know, you might create a working relationship. He/she shoots 2nd on a particular wedding and then you swap and shoot 2nd for them.




I like this.

My main concern, and honestly my major critique of the whole 'gotta have two shooters' claim, is that you end up with one good shooter and one glorified assistant. I don't want to spend my energy managing someone - I'm just used to giving all of that towards creating good work for the couple.

Also, I find that good scheduling (a more spread out wedding day) is a much better investment than another photographer, so I've always just sold that.

For those of you that have 'found' your second shooters, how did you (if you don't mind me asking)?



Mar 01, 2013 at 08:54 PM
NYstyles
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · On Second Shooters...


I havent had the greatest luck with seconds. Not bad but not great. I prefer to shoot alone or pick up a student looking for experience and I let them do their own thing. (My couples know about it, we all started somewhere) I had a better experience with complete newbies and letting them do their thing.

I find its better to have one for larger weddings. Most of my weddings are only 70-130 people which is small in the realm of wedding/events so I dont push a second. One is included with my larger package.

I charge the couple if its al carte. A cut is to pay them and a cut is to pay me for post producing their photos.

Oh and Ive put an ad on Craiglist hiring, referrals from other photographers, and Ive used some facebook photo groups I belong to to find seconds.



Mar 01, 2013 at 09:29 PM
Scott Mosher
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · On Second Shooters...


thebeginning wrote:
a) Do you write a contract out with your second shooters? I'd hate to include one in a package then have a no-show.

b) Do you charge exactly what you pay for a second shooter then pay them, or do you upsell? For example, if you plan on paying a second shooter $50/hr, do you bill the client $100/hr then pay them $50? I suppose it doesn't matter, just curious.

c) How did you find your current/preferred second shooter? I'd like to find someone that I can trust and use consistently, but most of the photographers I know are very busy with
...Show more

A. I haven't, but I will probably soon. Mostly just so everything between the 2nd shooter and me is all on paper so we know image uses, pay, etc

B. Personally I charge slightly more, as I now will be spending more time editing more images.

C. I have a friend I use when he's in town. Others I use I had 2nd shot with them before or they've assisted me a few times. I'll only take a random/unkown (to me) person if they've worked with someone I've worked with and they've got a glowing review from them.

D. Typically I'll get the girls/they get the guys during prep. When we're at the ceremony/reception I ask them to stay away from me to get alternate angles/crowd reactions.



Mar 01, 2013 at 09:49 PM
morby
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · On Second Shooters...


I really enjoy having a second shooting and prefer it over shooting alone. For me the greatest benefit of having a second is the ability to capture those two moments at once. It could be the kiss from two angles, a choir loft shot, etc. However my favorite reason for having a second is the moments right before the bride comes down the aisle. Below are two images that were shot by my wife that I didn't have the ability to get, because I was getting the processional. They are two of my favorite images...

For this one the bride had lost her father a few months prior to the wedding. This shot is charged with emotion as she seems to be saddened by the fact that he isn't walking her down the aisle...







This one is one of my favorite. The bride comforting the ring bearer right before he goes down the aisle. She later told me it was one of her favorites from the whole day...







Two images that would have been missed if I was by myself.



Mar 02, 2013 at 01:10 AM
hardlyboring
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · On Second Shooters...


a) Do you write a contract out with your second shooters? I'd hate to include one in a package then have a no-show.
No my wife and I are both primary photographers... when I do have seconds they are people I know and trust. If it was someone I did not know or trust I might draw up a contract.
b) Do you charge exactly what you pay for a second shooter then pay them, or do you upsell? For example, if you plan on paying a second shooter $50/hr, do you bill the client $100/hr then pay them $50? I suppose it doesn't matter, just curious.
I pay my second shooter based on a vague industry "standard" and area rate. If they are exceptionally good I would pay them more.
c) How did you find your current/preferred second shooter? I'd like to find someone that I can trust and use consistently, but most of the photographers I know are very busy with their own weddings.
FM is a great place to find seconds. Through FM I have developed a network of photographers all over the country that I know and trust and would not hesitate to have come and 2nd shoot with me. Most people I would hire (if need be) I would not call 2nds... I would call them associates.
d) With a second, do you have them take care of certain shots so that you can focus on others, or do you both work the same moments/shots together? E.g. do they photograph the groomsmen while you photograph the bridesmaids, or do you stick together until the ceremony and during the reception?
Its a wedding things get split up... if you have done enough weddings it should be easy to split the work up. No one job is any more important than another. The reason I like associates is because chances are they are as good if not better than I am. This makes for a killer time at the wedding with buddies and also some really amazing wedding photos from a strong tag team.



Mar 02, 2013 at 04:01 AM
Ian Ivey
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · On Second Shooters...


thebeginning wrote:
Does anyone else prefer working alone at weddings?

a) Do you write a contract out with your second shooters? I'd hate to include one in a package then have a no-show.

b) Do you charge exactly what you pay for a second shooter then pay them, or do you upsell? For example, if you plan on paying a second shooter $50/hr, do you bill the client $100/hr then pay them $50? I suppose it doesn't matter, just curious.

c) How did you find your current/preferred second shooter? I'd like to find someone that I can trust and use consistently, but most of the
...Show more

I hate working alone at weddings. Having a second simplifies things for me, because I've got a reliable assistant who can handle emergencies, be a second pack mule, and spread coverage when the action is split. A second almost always has a different view than I do, and different strengths, so my end-product coverage is more interesting. I always shoot with a second.

a) I include the second in my contract. I work with reliable seconds. I interview new seconds carefully, and I review their work carefully. I have a few back-up people who, if they're free, could and would come on short notice if something happened, but I've never had to activate the bat-signal. I, too, would hate to have a no-show, and would certainly refund some money if every redundant system failed, but I do at least have a strategy for shooting solo if I have to, and can get along fine.

b) My second is just one cost component, factored into my price. Since I don't offer coverage without a second, I don't have to worry about upsell tactics, so I'm not much help there.

c) I only work with seconds whose work I've seen, and mainly who I've seen participate here on fredmiranda. Jayson Hubbard and Chris Thomas are two of my favorites in the DC area, and I would work with either one of them without a second thought. I have a few others on my short list, and one or two who I wouldn't work with again. I try to shoot as a second for other folks here, as well -- for example, I shot as a second for Doug Stroud last year, and would definitely use him as a second. Shooting as a second allows me to see whether I can get along with the other photographer and evaluate his or her skill and reliability.

d) For morning prep, I almost always send my second to cover the guys while I cover the girls, and then we meet when the two groups come together. The rest of the day, we're together most of the time, with some small tasks taking us in different directions on occasion. For example, I might ask my second to go to the reception early to get detail shots (Chris in particular is brilliant at this) while I shoot the bridal party or do something else.

A couple things to add. My relationship with my second is paramount. I have to be able to trust him or her, and I also want to be sure we'll get along well. It's best for me if I can meet a prospective second before a gig. If I can't, I spend time on the phone, and I communicate in bursts before the gig, to see how responsive and certain the person is. If I'm trying a new second, and I get the slightest hint of unreliability or arrogance, I'll switch if there's time, or bring a third whose work I know. I do not ever want to be in a situation where I have all my eggs in one basket, so even if I'm happy with the work of a particular second, I still switch it up and use others, to broaden my network.

When I look at a second's work, although his or her style has to be compatible with mine at some basic level, I'm really looking for someone who doesn't shoot like I do. Jayson, for example, shoots tilty shots like it's going out of style. Which it may be. By contrast, if I shoot tilted, it's because some kid just ran into me from behind and I hit the shutter while I was going down. In my end product, I can deliver maybe one out of every 10 or 15 of these tilted shots he does. But the ones I deliver are extremely high value to me, because I would never even have thought to shoot the moment that way. In the last wedding we shot together, one of his tilted shots, of the groom, was one of my favorites and the clients loved it, too.



Mar 02, 2013 at 04:28 AM
 

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Ian Ivey
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · On Second Shooters...


One more thing: I mainly try to hire, as second shooters, photographers who in my estimation are as good as I am or better, and who have at least some experience shooting their own gigs. I don't tend to hire people who are just breaking into the business -- nothing against them, it's just that I want the work of someone who shoots at my level or higher and knows what's coming next at any given point in the day. I also hypothesize that people in this category tend to be more reliable.

Edited on Mar 02, 2013 at 06:35 AM · View previous versions



Mar 02, 2013 at 04:36 AM
TTLKurtis
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · On Second Shooters...


^^same here and I also exclusively work with second shooters. A change I made late last year which I'm very pleased with.


Mar 02, 2013 at 05:03 AM
Tony Hoffer
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · On Second Shooters...


Just a thought to those who prefer to shoot alone because they can't find anyone reliable and great to shoot with...

I'd highly recommend attending a conference, workshop, or something of the like. Making friends that aren't direct competition can do wonders for your in-industry relationships. I know a lot of people who work often with people that they connected with at events. Some ended up being local. Others fly people in in exchange for second shooter pay which can work great for both parties.



Mar 02, 2013 at 07:12 PM
LivLif
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · On Second Shooters...


Ian Ivey wrote:
I hate working alone at weddings. Having a second simplifies things for me, because I've got a reliable assistant who can handle emergencies, be a second pack mule, and spread coverage when the action is split. A second almost always has a different view than I do, and different strengths, so my end-product coverage is more interesting. I always shoot with a second.

a) I include the second in my contract. I work with reliable seconds. I interview new seconds carefully, and I review their work carefully. I have a few back-up people who, if they're free, could and
...Show more

Great info here. Thanks Ian! It was a pleasure working with you.



Mar 03, 2013 at 02:55 AM
Ian Ivey
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · On Second Shooters...


Chris wrote:
Great info here. Thanks Ian! It was a pleasure working with you.

No, you're the schmoopy one.



Mar 03, 2013 at 03:27 AM
Hybrid AWD
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · On Second Shooters...


Being someone who is looking to get more involved as a second shooter/associate for weddings, it's nice to see the other side. I've been working on expanding my network and hoping I get plenty of opportunities to second shoot over this next year or so.

Tons of great information and opinions in this thread. Great topic!



Mar 05, 2013 at 06:07 PM
eephoto
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · On Second Shooters...


thebeginning wrote:
Does anyone else prefer working alone at weddings?

That's what I started doing, and I have just grown to prefer its simplicity. I also always found it as a sales strategy more than an actual need. It's never really been a problem with bookings until now, for some reason - I'm getting a lot of requests for a second photographer, and know that I should offer it.

So I naturally have a few questions for those of you that do it consistently:

a) Do you write a contract out with your second shooters? I'd hate to include one in a package then have
...Show more

As someone who almost always has a 2nd shooter with me at weddings, I can say that if you hire the right person (someone you click with), then it's worth it. How many times I have been at a dinner table surrounded by family, and they are all speaking in a foreign language, thank goodness for my 2nd! We chat, talk shop, take turns taking photos when something is happening at dinner time. Sometimes the 2nd sees things that I don't see, or recommends things to me that I may have missed otherwise. I've got a great 2nd right now, so I'm kind of bragging. She's a gem!

In answer to your questions,

a) ABSOLUTELY you need a contract! This is a must. It stipulates everything about the contract, from expenses (parking, gas etc...) to contracted hours, to pay scale as well as a whole bunch of other things that instead of having to have a drawn out conversation about, it's right in the contract. My contract is one page, direct and to the point.

b)Upsell, more photos = more time in front of the computer. Plus in a way you are mentoring this person to maybe someday be your competition, you need to make $ from that somehow.

c)I have posted on Craigslist, Kijiji, forums that I frequent. Lots of people who want to 2nd shoot, it's just weeding through them and finding a fit, and finding someone that is going to stick around for at least one wedding season...maybe even two!

d)It all depends on timing. With every wedding I book, I tell the bride and groom that I would love to be able to photograph both of them personally, but if they don't book enough time, this can't always happen. If the time isn't there, then the 2nd will go to the grooms, and I will stay with the bride. But I do try and squeeze it in even if it's just 5 minutes. I trust myself (and I'm not saying I don't trust the 2nds I hire, but I know what I want to capture) IF I hire a new 2nd, sometimes I will bring three photographers with me to the wedding. The couples don't mind, they think "YIPPEE more photos" and I get a feel for is the person responsible, will they show up on time, how do they interact with me etc...)

Really great topic btw!

Elaine



Mar 06, 2013 at 06:50 PM
Swaggart
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · On Second Shooters...


I try to use a second photog at every wedding, even though I prefer shooting alone...I have 2 or three guys that are still young and learning so I bring them along to teach them and they shoot for free on my basic packages. On packages where I actually offer a second photog I use a professional guy that I've worked with for years. I never and would never use someone I don't know because you never know what to expect in that situation. My face is on the business so I'd never put that into the hands of someone I don't trust. And yes, I direct my second shooters and give them ideas of what I'm wanting.


Mar 06, 2013 at 07:55 PM
LivLif
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · On Second Shooters...


Ian Ivey wrote:
Chris wrote:

No, you're the schmoopy one.




You watch too much Seinfeld!



Mar 06, 2013 at 08:38 PM





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