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Why do I second shoot weddings? | For Photographers | Katy Murray Photography, LLC

Why do I second shoot weddings? 

Captured while second shooting with Kelly of Kaypea Photography

Last wedding season I second shot around 20 weddings. And this season I have about 15-20 on the books. I find that second shooting has so many benefits, for any level of photographer and I am continually growing because of it.

In the photography world second shooting comes with a bit of a stigma. You second shoot because you can’t book your own weddings. You second shoot because you aren’t confident. You second shoot because you aren’t experienced. The list can go on, but second shooting has many benefits for all different levels of photographers; whether you are starting out or have shot for years, second shooting can be a positive thing.

I second shoot for my portfolio. When I made the decision to do wedding photography I didn’t know how to break into the industry. It is challenging to book your first few weddings at a reasonable investment when you don’t have any previous wedding experience or any wedding images to share with the potential client. Second shooting allowed me to grow my portfolio and my wedding day experience, while assisting other photographers.  You may run into a second shooting gig that you aren’t able to share the images publicly, but don’t let this stop you. Ask the  photographer you are working with if you can use the images in a private, password protected gallery. This allows you to still use the images and showcase them for potential clients while also respecting the primary photographers guidelines.

Captured while second shooting with Casey of Simply Memorable Photography.

I second shoot to network. Second shooting allows me to network with photographers and wedding vendors. Networking with photographers is important on so many levels. Networking creates relationships that are crucial to photography and business, it encourages community and builds a support system that is needed when running a small business. Networking is my primary source of inquiries and bookings. While I second shoot I represent the primary photographer and their business. When wedding guests or vendors ask questions I answer for the business I am representing and I do not solicit my services. Don’t let this stop you from networking though, I have built some wonderful relationships through second shooting.

I second shoot for the experience. Second shooting gives experience, and lots of it. I encounter situations that I have not yet seen; I watch the primary interact with their clients, and I get a front row seat of how to deal with hectic-ness of a wedding day while still capturing memories that will last a lifetime. No matter how long you’ve been shooting, no matter what you’ve seen, there is always something new to be learned. Second shooting also allows me the experience of the primary photographer-second shooter relationship, and I can take what I learn, the good and the bad, to grow as a primary shooter and be the best I can for my second shooters.

Captured while second shooting with Sarah of Sarah Bradshaw Photography.

I second shoot for the income. Most of us aren’t in the photography business for the money we can make, so you may laugh at this initial statement. Or you may argue “I can make more income by booking my own weddings, so I don’t second shoot”.  Well, my take on this is a little different. I use to think that booking second shooter gigs was holding me back from blossoming into my own wedding career and limiting me from making thousands of dollars off my own weddings, but that isn’t the case. On a wedding day, as a second shooter I take my position very seriously. I work the same amount as if I was primary, I treat the clients as if they are my own, and I truly try to deliver my best work possible. But at the end of the day, I go home, I go to bed and my job is complete. As a primary, that’s not the case. I would still need to do all the editing, blogging, design and ordering for my couple. After the wedding day there is still hours, and hours of work to be done for the primary photographer. This gives me a break from the behind the scenes work of a wedding, (or in most cases) a chance to catch up on my own business.

I second shoot to better serve my clients. Okay, so this may bring up the question “How does taking on a second shooter gig relate with your clients?” And an obvious answer is that I take what I learn when I am second shooting and use it to better serve my client, while this is true there are many reasons that second shooting allows me to better serve my clients. I take on a limited number of weddings (as primary) each year. For me to best serve my client, I can’t spread myself too thin. I want to give each of my clients a personal and professional experience. After shooting a wedding as primary my mind doesn’t stop, I don’t rest peacefully until I have delivered that clients gallery to them (ask my husband, it can get crazy around here during wedding season). Second shooting takes that pressure off, although I am still learning, growing and feeding my creative appetite without my clients suffering from it.

Second shooting is a great option for every skill level of photographer. Who you second shoot for is crucial to the things. Later on the blog I will discuss how to find, approach and discuss second shooting with a photographer that will help you get the best out of the opportunity.

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