Free freelancer tip from upcoming book! Things I wish I knew before becoming a videographer!

Tip #17 Second shooting for weddings. One of the best schooling. [growth]

This is from my upcoming book on Things I Wish I Knew Before Becoming a Videographer! If you would like more info, free samples and release date please contact me right away!

This tip applies to photographers and videographers alike. So many people who start in both photography and videography  fields want to start by offering weddings. Everyone knows that these events pay well and there are always people looking for these services. This is pretty insane if you ask me.

A wedding is a once in a lifetime event (most of the time) and there are no “re-dos”.  As a wedding service provider, you must be prepared and experienced for any situation that might creep up. From churches that are lit like the dungeon of a castle to having to shoot in the rain, wedding shooters need to have the experience and knowledge to handle whatever happens!

29 Pixel Studios Weddign Cinematography / Videography Kansas City KS MO

Instead of jumping in with both feet, I strongly recommend to new shooters to second shoot for established professionals. Communicate that you are looking to build experience and possibly a portfolio. Tell them up front that you would like to use the footage you shoot to start your business in a year or so. This is important. If the primary shooter is not aware of this and then see’s their client’s footage on your site, that can create a messy situation. However, some are cool with it.

Instead of jumping in with both feet, I strongly recommend to new shooters to look for opportunities to second shoot for established professionals. Build a relationship with an established photographer in your community and communicate that you are looking to gain experience and build a portfolio.  Offer to work for free or a discounted rate in exchange for their mentorship and sharing their knowledge. This will be invaluable for you and your career moving forward.

Explain upfront that you would like to use the footage you shoot to start your business, when you feel ready (in a year or so). This is important. If the primary shooter is not aware of this and then sees their client’s footage on your site, it can create a messy situation (as well as open you up to copyright infringement and issues with model releases). However, with pre-shooting awareness, you can most likely work out an arrangement that benefits both of you.

Every videographer is different, some might release the rights for you to use the footage for a lower contract shooting rate. Some may have contracts that state all footage can only be used by the primary shooter. Communicate with the lead and respect the agreement. After all you will soon be establishing these agreements with your crew and a good relationship with a mentor is an invaluable resource. Most likely, the primary shooter is further along their personal journey to mastery, the time spent on with him/her is invaluable. If you get yourself paired up with an established professional, just watching them work for a few months can rival multiple semesters of film school.

29 Pixel Studios Wedding Photography / Photographer Kansas City, KS, MO, LeavenworthSame for photographers – in addition to having your primary shooter’s permission to share your images, you will also need your client’s. Make sure this is discussed and included in the photographer’s contract. There is nothing worse than feeling like you have captured an amazing image to grow your portfolio and then find out that you can’t use it via a “Cease and Desist” order from the photographer’s client. A wedding day is crazy, and an experienced photographer will know what to expect as far as capturing the little moments that brides love. It’s so much more involved than taking bridal and groom’s portraits – and if your only wedding experience is as a bride/groom or a guest, you have no idea what you will be getting yourself into. A wedding photographer can easily be expected to double as a wedding planner, coordinator and therapist, all while capturing first class images in any given lighting situation. If you aren’t ready to play all of those roles, then you need more time as a second shooter.

I second shot as a photographer for three years. Honestly, I don’t recommend taking that long, but for me, it worked. I had a job that was very comfortable and wanted to get my skills really locked down before being in charge of capturing someone’s wedding day. I understood 100% that there were no options for a re-shoot.

In addition to learning from someone further along in the journey you will get to see how to handle challenging situations. “Act like you’ve been there before.” A popular thing for coaches to say to celebrating athletes. Being there before means, calm down to the excitement and get back to work.

Real World Examples:


  • You are shooting a wedding. You have a few minutes to get the beautiful ring shot. You opt to take the ring outside and place it on a pile of leaves. You line up the shot and then… a gust of wind blows the leaf along with the rings into a pile of unknown mystery.
  • You are a second shooter for a wedding and the main shooter frantically comes out of the church and says, “I just dropped my camera and broke my main lens. I only have one other.”
  • Your teammate is shooting the ladies so you handle the guys. You compose the shot with the man of the hour and the groom looks at you and says, “No.” This by the way happens at the very beginning of your time with him and the groomsmen.

These are just three of the many situations I’ve experienced first hand. These types of situations can be terrifying and, if you’re inexperienced, they WILL throw you off your game. Being exposed to similar situations as a second shooter will have taught you how to handle them with grace and experience. Because if you are thrown off your game and you can’t recover, you leave yourself open to not delivering what the client expects, poor reviews and word of mouth, and before your business is off the ground, you are dead in the water.

Take Away: Find a mentor…or at least someone experienced that will let you work for them as a second shooter so that you know what you’re doing before you promise your clients the world and can’t deliver!

Again, this is from my upcoming book on things I wish I knew before becoming a videographer! If you would like more info, free samples and release date please contact me right away!

Big thanks to professional photographer Lindsey Slattery! for helping edit and contributing some extra tid bits!

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