How to find and book a great second shooter for your business!
HOW TO FIND AND BOOK A GREAT SECOND SHOOTER FOR YOUR BUSINESS!
I love helping and sharing what I’ve learned from either experience or research that I’ve done on my own when it comes to owning and running a professional photography business here in central Florida. So today I thought I would write about how to go about finding an awesome assistant and second shooter for your photography business. As a wedding photographer here in Tampa I have been very lucky to have met and second shot for several different photographers throughout the Sarasota and St. Petersburg areas. I can honestly say I’ve had nothing but really great experiences and I can’t wait to shoot for them again. As an elopement and micro wedding photographer it can hard to find a good and experienced second shooter because usually the best and most experienced photographers are either booked themselves with weddings or they are already second shooting for someone else. So here are a few tips on how to find a great second shooter.
1: SEARCH IN LOCAL PHOTOGRAPHY GROUPS IN FACEBOOK
I think that probably 90% of all the second shooting jobs I’ve booked are from Facebook groups. This is a great place to post about and looking for second shooters. Also make sure to check out Honeybook, many photographers use it when they are looking for second shooters or associate photographers for upcoming weddings. It's a great resource for photographers in general!
2: DON’T WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE TO START LOOKING FOR SOMEONE
If you are 100% sure you need a strong second shooter for an upcoming wedding I would suggest to start looking a month or two before the wedding date. That will give you time to find someone and for the second shooter to make arrangements if they have another job or children at home they need to find a babysitter for. If you wait until the last minute to find someone it will be hard to find someone that is available and has lots of experience.
3: BE TOTALLY TRANSPARENT WITH ALL THE DETAILS OF THE WEDDING
The reason I mention this is because I’ve seen opportunities for second shooting jobs where the information is very vague or crucial information is conveniently left out. When you post about the details of the wedding make sure to include in the post where the wedding is, how many hours of coverage you will need them for, if they will be allowed to use the photos in their portfolio, what you will need them to take the lead on (such as groomsmen or reception details), and be honest about how much you can afford to pay them! Let them know upfront in the very beginning if they will be allowed to use the photos in their portfolio. If you don’t allow your second shooters to use the images then be prepared to pay more per hour and have them shoot on your cards. Industry standard pay for allowing second shooters to use the images is about $40 an hour. If you don't allow them to use the photos in on their website then be prepared to pay them closer to $60 an hour.
4: ASK TO SEE FULL WEDDING GALLERIES
By looking at galleries of weddings they have shot this will give you a well rounded and clear vision of how they shoot. Did they get the look on the grooms face when he saw his bride for the first time. Are they good at lighting? How do they crop their photos? Read some of their blog posts and their “about me” pages. Do you feel like your personalties would mesh well together? Once you decide based on their work that you would like to hire them, ask to talk with them on the phone, FaceTime, or meet for coffee. That way you can get a real feel for how their personality blends with yours.
5: ASK FOR REFERRALS
When you are hiring someone in the corporate world or at any 9-5 job the employers require referrals. So you can do the same when searching for a second shooter. Ask them for referrals from other photographers they’ve worked with before.
6: CLEARLY COMMUNICATE YOUR EXCEPTIONS
Tell them exactly what you need them to cover the day of the wedding. If you need to them capture groomsmen and details then make sure they know that upfront. Let them know if the bride and groom are doing a first look, if there are any family dynamics they should be aware of. For example a nasty divorce between parents, the death of a family member, or any religious customs they need to be respectful of. Be totally honest with them and let them know exactly what you need them to take the lead on and when you want them to fall back and take candid shots or no shooting and just adjust the dress or flowers.
7: HAVE A CONTRACT SIGNED
You wouldn’t book a portrait session or a wedding without your clients signing a contract and the same should be with your second shooter agreement. It should cover all the basics like where the wedding is, hours of coverage, duties, payment, and permission of usage of photos, and if you will or will not allow them to use the photos in their portfolios, ALL of this should be in print!
8: DON’T BACK OUT AT THE LAST MINUTE
This is just an extension of point number 6 but once you have decided or know that without a doubt you will be hiring them as your assistant for the day don’t be wishy washy and then tell them you don’t need them after all. Yes things happen and plans change but from the perspective of a second shooter, it is incredibly frustrating to make arrangements to second shoot only to be told at the last minute you are no longer needed. This will only make the second shooter decide to never work with you and quite possibly tarnish your reputation with other photographers in the community. Granted unexpected things happen and sometimes brides at the last minute make huge changes to their weddings. But for the most part this is few and far between. So once you have a second shooter you know you want to work with be kind and honest with them about what you expect and don’t lie to them about why you’re hiring them.
Nina Bashaw is a St. Petersburg, Florida based fine art luxury photographer that specializes in senior portraits, headshots, weddings, micro weddings, and elopements throughout the southeast and is available for worldwide travel.
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