This past summer I had the opportunity to second shoot for Morgan of Morgan Diane Photography a couple of times and it was an invaluable experience. I learned so much from this opportunity and here's my thoughts on why. Some photographers have different rules about what you can and can't do with the images you capture while second shooting. Some photographers have you shoot on their SD cards so they only have the images, some let you use the images for your portfolio. Now onto the things I have learned from second shooting.
1: Timeline of the Day
Before starting to do research on weddings and how the day goes, I had an inkling of an idea of what happened during the day but no clue on the full detail of a timeline. I never knew about all the time photographers put into the wedding day, getting there early and how much they spend photographing each part of the day.
2: Learning The Thought Process of Scenery
As any photographer would tell you, lighting and scenery choice plays a good part into a great photograph. Second shooting or even assisting a photographer gives you the oppurtunity to observe a highly experienced photographer and see how they choose locations for portraits, first looks and so on. Second shooting gives you the opportunity to ask questions, and really learn more about shooting from a first shooter perspective on a wedding day.
3: It Builds Relationships
This is probably one of those less thought of tips or reasons. Second shooting for other photographers lets you build relationships with vendors and the opportunity to get your referred by that photographer if they aren't available to shoot a wedding. Building relationships with other photographers and wedding vendors is a key way of referring clients to them and also getting referrals sent to you.
4: You Can Be Helpful
On a wedding day you are there to second shoot for the lead photographer but you are also there to help the photographer in any way you can. Doing small things like grabbing their camera bag at the ceremony space while they are doing family formals, or hold the veil up, or opening a door will help the lead photographer remember you for the future. You are there on the wedding day to essentially help the lead photographer, even though that means you won't be shooting all the time. One thing I learned while second shoot for Morgan is that some images just don't have a good second angle/perspective to shoot. So you might end up standing there watching while she gets the shoot she needs.
5: Don't Overshoot
The very first wedding I second shot with Morgan, I shot over 3,500 images and I was the second shooter. I hadn't second shot for a photographer and I was trying to be as helpful as possible and get as many different perspectives as I could for her. Did she use all those images, probably not. Culling all those images on top of her own must of been a headache. Learn from my mistake, don't overshoot and observe to see what photos you can get from a different angle that would actually be helpful to the lead photographer. When you are not the one in charge of getting the “money” shots, that allows you to have a bit more freedom in the types of shots you are able to get! You need to think outside the box because, as a second shooter, your job is to get the angles that the lead photographer can’t!