Why I’ll Always 2nd Shoot | Middle Tennessee Wedding Photographer

Well – first off, if you aren’t a wedding vendor or pro you might not know what I mean by ‘2nd Shoot’ so we’ll start there. A 2nd Shooter is a second (& sometimes there are even 3rd’s) photographer brought along by the hired photographer. As a 2nd Shooter you are there to function as a second set of hands, eyes & images to the primary/hired photographer. So – now that we have a working definition – why would an established professional still be willing (& excited) about 2nd shooting?

There’s always something to learn. 

I’m a firm believer that none of us know everything there is to know – about anything. Even the most prolific artists can still learn things from taking a backseat position & watching how someone else does their thing. I can’t tell you how much I’ve learned from watching other professionals & even 2nd shooting with photographers who haven’t been ‘in the game’ as long as I have. None of us sees the world through exactly the same eyes & that can lead to amazing discoveries & moments of ‘why didn’t I think of that?’ While I guess its possible that some wouldn’t enjoy that sensation of seeing someone else do something in a different, or more efficient, or more creative way – I kinda love it. I don’t get offended because I don’t expect myself to know everything. I love being a student of those around me & that certainly includes inside the wedding industry. Things within this industry are changing *so* fast its impossible for any one person to keep up with every single aspect, all the time. Whether its new gear, old gear used in a new way, new tech, new thought processes or approaches – I love learning from others & 2nd shooting is a great way to do that.

 Free flowing creativity.

Any photographer will tell you that as the hired pro there is a long list of ‘must have’ shots for any type of shoot including weddings. Add to that the stress that this isn’t a ‘do-over’ type situation & the desire to thrill our clients & you have a recipe for lots of stress. When things go awry (as they often do on any wedding day) one of the first things to get cut is any extra time padded in for ‘out of the box’ portraits. That time is when a professional really gets to shine & wow their clients with those dreamy, beautiful photos that wind up on Pinterest. However, all the staple, must-have images must come first & without the right timeline those moments don’t happen. Being a 2nd shooter cuts the ‘must have’s’ in half & allows both photographers more freedom to create. Also, while the primary photog is shooting the straight-on, must-have shots in things like the bridal party, the 2nd photographer can be catching all those in-between moments, the side angles, all those beautiful extra images that tell a much fuller story. Practically speaking it can also save your behind sometimes. This is especially true for destination weddings – having a local 2nd shooter can save you loads of scouting time & if your time gets tight having someone who knows the area can make all the difference.
I know, for me, I have produced some of my most loved work while 2nd shooting (or working with a 2nd shooter who’s like my other half). This happens because its all the beauty & emotion of a wedding day with very little or none of the pressure. Its also a good indicator of whether you truly enjoy shooting weddings or just enjoy the monetary side (neither which is bad, just a different take). For me its a blast!

These are just one example of those extra shots you can get. This is the shot from Lanie of me & the next is a different angle of that same shot & the last is the resulting image – which the groom loves. Photo Cred: Lanie Kay Photography


One of my most favorite aspects of 2nd shooting or having someone 2nd with me – is the community it builds. Any pro will tell you there’s a shared camaraderie after a long, demanding wedding day. That’s especially true if you over come obstacles, whether its timeline issues or weather issues – there’s a shared bond & a sense of trust that comes with getting through those tougher days with your head still up & beautiful images to show for it. The best 2nd shooter relationships are built on, or supplemented by, friendship. Those friendships grow stronger by sharing those days & leaning on one another to get through it & find the beautiful creativity that comes from sharing the load.

Also, as I was writing this I realized that all of these also apply to working outside the photography niche – its why I love working alongside planner friends, florist friends etc. I learn so many new things, appreciate different facets of the wedding day all the more & have more respect for those artists & the specific pressures they feel. All around its an enriching experience & I feel, makes me a better asset to my clients & their weddings.

Monroe Imagery is based in Murfreesboro Tennessee but available for worldwide travel. Monroe Imagery Murfreesboro Wedding Photographer, Monroe Imagery Nashville Wedding photographer, Monroe Imagery Chattanooga Wedding Photographer

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