There have been many rising questions with photographers, new or pro, whether hiring a second shooter is necessary. There were also questions by some photographers wanting to expand their repertoire, on some ways to lean more towards wedding photography. After hearing responses, it inspired me to write about it and hope this can help answer any questions to any newbies to the business and even some professionals.
When I started in the wedding business, I started as a second shooter. Fortunately for me, I had friend who was a little more versed in the wedding business than I was. I was able to second shoot for her for 3 years, along with other photographers I reached out to. During those times, I became comfortable with the process of a weddings. I started to see what would happen and when, developed my own creative eye, anticipated moments, learn settings, posing, thinking on your feet, THE WORKS! By the time I was ready to venture out on my own, I had at least 8 or 9 test runs before I would charge anyone to shoot on my own. I honestly don't believe I would have the business I do today if I had never 2nd shot anything. You learn EVERYTHING as a second shooter.
In my opinion, the most efficient and sure way to expand your repertoire to an area that isn't your expertise is by second shooting. I believe every photographer has a speciality. Something that they know that if they were faced with the toughest lighting or posing situations, they will be able to create magical photos. I also believe that every photographer in some fashion wants to explore new territories, and for most, its weddings.
Truth be told, Weddings bring the most money. They test true skill for light management, business etiquette, personifying 50 people at once, organization, and the list could literally go on.... but, I can see why though.... Weddings are just simply magical! Second shooting for a wedding photographer trains you in ALL of those areas without having the pressure on your shoulders. As a 2nd you are able to catch some of the most memorable moments of the day. Truthfully, some of the best unseen memories can come from a second shooters eye. It also takes pressure off of the primary shooter knowing that multiple areas are being photographed.... trust me.
For me personally, I don't shoot a wedding without one unless it is a small, short wedding or the bride requests not to have one. Any other time, you can garuntee it. I like having interaction with another person who is working the same thing I am at a wedding. It keeps me level headed in a way and I can kind of vent as I shoot if something goes wrong. As stated before, and probably the most important, they are covering multiple areas simultaneously so you don't have to be in 30 places at once, just 26, haha! More coverage means more editing, yes, but you have more to present your bride. And if you are like me and have a set number, You have reassurance that you can meet that quota with an extra set of eyes.
All in all, If you are wanting to branch into the wedding field of photography, working with someone who is more experienced will, in fact, get you where you need before venturing out on your own. MOST wedding photographers need 2nd shooters! Find them! When I am not a primary shooting, I LOVE second shooting and try to do it as many chance as I get. There are hundreds of ads on Craigslist, Facebook groups, and photography forums asking for 2nds.. Reach out and don't be shy. There is bound to be a photographer out there, who gives individuals a chance! I sure did, and still do.
Hope this Helps.!
HAPPY SECOND SHOOTING.!