Second Wedding Shooter

Back in September, I photographed a wedding as a second shooter. My husband and I were in a pretty desperate place financially. So I took the job. I don’t normally second-shoot because I feel as though my work isn’t valued as an artist. I’m just doing a service when photography means so much more to me. Overall it was a good experience despite the messy ending of a professional connection. I learned a lot and had an opportunity to capture some amazing photos and keep them for my own portfolio. Which I am incredibly thankful for!

Second Shooter or Employee?

Ever since then, I have sworn off second shooting and opted to be a primary shooter instead. But, what does it truly mean to be a second shooter? As it stands, it is more of a contractual employee-supervisor position. You show up, you capture what you are requested to capture, dump the RAW files, accept payment and go on your way. This doesn’t sit well with me. Even as a photographer who may, in fact, hire a second shooter one day.

Community Over Competition

If you’ve known me for very long, you know I LOVE the concept of community over competition. This idea that we, as creatives, are one big community with each individual, special gift to offer the world and each other. Therefore, I spend an incredible amount of time wondering how to make second shooting less of an employee based position and more of a collaboration. I still don’t have the full answer. Especially because copyright gets messy. But, It is something I’m constantly thinking about.

In this contemplation, I find myself digging pretty deep into the specific guidelines for second shooters. Don’t tag the venue. Don’t share the images for a specified amount of time. Don’t mention your personal business. And whatever other rules may be contractually or verbally agreedĀ upon. I found a pretty constant heart position in some of them: fear.


Because we are truly competing with one another, collaboration has to come with so many stipulations. Don’t get me wrong! Not every rule is fear based. Yes, if you’re a second shooter or a fill-in, don’t share the gallery before the person who hired you has done so. It is reasonable to request a second shooter not tag the client as well. This can make things messy and confusing for the client because they hired the primary photographer, not the secondary one. However, limiting the second shooter from making a professional connection with the venue or even tagging them when you can share your work comes is fear based. It is the fear that you may lose out on clientele or opportunity. I think there is a better way to do this. A more collaborative one.

Honor and Lifting Each Other Up

My Christian faith in Jesus empowers me to truly lift others up professionally without fear of losing something. I trust God with my business and will continue to walk with Christ in it. So, my idea of having a second shooter is collaborative. Yes. Technically I would be the primary shooter, but I would introduce the secondary shooter by their name and specify their business. They would attend wedding related meetings and even be a part of the gallery viewing with the clients. On paper, they’d be an employee. But, a second shooter is also an incredible visual artist and their talents should be praised!

What if I lose a client?

Then there is the fear creeping up. What if I lose a client? What if I lose business? What if they don’t like me? I’d rather keep my second shooter anonymous and just use their pictures. You can do that and even run your business out of that place of fear. There isn’t life in that though. It is far more life-giving to collaborate, be a team, live from a place of healthy faith, and honor your neighbor. Call me crazy. But, that sounds like a better alternative to me. If you are ever hired as a second shooter with me, expect a contract. But, also expect praise and recognition for your hard work. You deserve it!