Learning to Lead as a Second Shooter

For the past 10 years of shooting weddings I’ve been the lead photographer with Andre as the second shooter. Being the main photography at an event is a great responsibility. Most of the time, you find yourself setting up the bridal party and on call for the bride or groom whenever they need a photo. It’s a position where you spend a lot of time directing both the Second shooter & wedding guests. However a few years ago I shot 2 weddings as the second shooter and it was an experience that showed me how important it is to follow.

Shooting with Shakai Coumarbatch

The first wedding I helped a photographer by the name of Shakai who was actually someone I had never worked with before, yet I was determined to listen and get the shots he wanted. See I knew from my own weddings how vital it is to communicate and make sure the other person is capturing the parts of the wedding you aren’t. As a result I spent most of my day capturing the groom & groomsmen  and Shakai spent his time capturing the bride and the bridesmaids.

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To Lead, First You Must Follow.

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Shooting with Semeka

My Photographer friend Michael Olisemeka over at Semeka Pro asked if I could assist him with an upcoming wedding, I agreed after I considered how well we work together. What I discovered from this experience was how to follow and learn  new things about photography even after many years of experience.

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The interesting thing about being the second shooter is the fact that your free to roam and be a bit more expressive with your work. The focus of the second shooter is to pick up where the main photographer leaves off. The freedom to just walk around and create shots is something most photographers don’t have time for at weddings. This is simply because their attention is on the actual bridal party & family. I truly enjoy the freedom I had to grab more of the fine details at the wedding.

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This shot above is was one of the sharpest, cleanest, captures of the day and it was captured during the reception. Normally I would insist on using flash at any reception but I pushed the 85mm to give me the results I wanted and it did very well.

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Overall I’d would say that being the second shooter at a wedding made me a better listener. I had to ask Michael at different moments what he wanted, which gave me the opportunity to appreciate a different perspective & style other than my own. It also allowed me to capture more of the moments I would have missed as well as to approach the photo session as a candid shooter vs. the traditional style.

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The act of helping someone else takes time and patience. It helps you understand some of the areas where communication can be very ambiguous, such as when describing the type of shot you want. Instead of only verbalizing it you should show it, you can either use your own camera or display a shot from another photographers work (such as on pintrest or 500px). The key to growing is to recognize your not done developing, as an artist or even as a person. With that mindset you allow yourself to see things with a different set of eyes. That happened to me during those two opportunities where I became the second shooter.