For Photographers: An Open Conversation About Second Shooters


the blog

by sarah elrod

Have you ever wondered what the industry standard for Second Shooters is? Well I had the opportunity to sit down and chat with 2 wedding professionals to discuss exactly this. We had an open conversation about second shooting, what it is, and what rules they have in place and why.

I also posted on my Instagram story asking all photographers to answer some polls about second shooters. The responses shocked me! This is a conversation that should be heard by lead photographers, second shooters, and brides and grooms to be! You can listen to the episode or check out the show notes below!

A Little About The Photographers:

Kaleigh Gomez is the owner and photographer behind Mountain Time Photography. She is based out of Gridley, CA and is a country girl through and through. Yumi is the owner and photographer behind Yumiko Tan Photography and is based out of Southern California near Huntington Beach.

Both of these photographers specialize in capturing western and country couples, love the outdoors, and are always down for a good time.

What Is A Second Shooter?

A second shooter is another photographer that the lead wedding photographer brings along to assist in photographing the wedding they were hired for. Second shooters can range from being beginners in the industry to industry professionals.

The main job of a second shooter is to capture different angles throughout the wedding day that the main photographer cannot capture. Depending on the timeline of the wedding day they may even branch off from the lead shooter to photograph different parts of the wedding day happening simultaneously.

Bad Experiences With Second Shooters

Unfortunately if you are working as a wedding photographer, chances are at some point you will have a not so great experience with a second shooter. It’s all a part of the growing process and how you will learn to navigate this career, but it doesn’t make it any easier!

Personally I have been lucky to have mostly good experiences with second shooters with a few minor exceptions but I have heard total horror stories from friends in the industry that keep me up at night.

However I will say that my not so great experiences were my own fault for not setting clear enough expectations on what I was expecting of them.

Yumi describes how she had a personal experience with a second shooter where she was losing clients to this other photographer and getting ghosted by them. She admits that while she cannot control people and keep every client all to herself, it did feel a bit snarky to have someone swoop in and take clients out from underneath her.

Second Shooting Just To Get Good Content

There is not problem in wanting to get content from being a second shooter, however if that is the heart and soul behind why you are doing it then you may want to re-think being a second shooter. If you are being hired and paid by a lead photographer you are working under their name for that day as a second version of themselves. Your job is to help them however they may need and assist them on a busy wedding day. Which sometimes may mean holding the veil up for their shot instead of being the one taking photos of it.

As a second shooter you are not going to be getting the most perfect angles because that’s where the lead photographer will most likely be standing. Your job is to get creative from different angles that the main photographer cannot get. You can have fun with this!

Get Creative With It

If you are the second photographer, you are not under the same kind of pressure that the lead photographer is, so use that to your advantage and get creative with your shots! Sometimes the lead photographer can fall into a routine and get all the same standard shots that they usually get when they are photographing weddings. But you are going to be able to try out different things and experiment with lighting and angles more than the lead photographer will be able to.

Different Second Shooting Rules & Etiquette

Keep in mind that the following “”guidelines” are based on an industry standard but are not always definite. Every photographer is entitled to their own set of rules and guidelines for their second shooters. Some lead shooters may have more strict rules in place while others are more lenient. Neither is right or wrong. Some of the following rules were given to me on Instagram when I asked my audience what rules they have:

  • Not posting any of the images until after the lead photographer deletes them
  • No tagging the bride or groom in photos you post
  • No following the bride or groom from a wedding you second shot
  • Always tag and give credit to the lead photographer when posting an image from the wedding
  • Must have a camera with dual card slots
  • Do not gossip or be on your phone during down time


Instagram Bio Freebie:

More Photography Related Posts:

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Kaleigh’s Instagram:


I'm Sarah Elrod

The Podcast

Rural Lifestyle



I'm a Cowgirl turned serial entrepreneur.
I'm a horse trainer, western wedding photographer, business coach and ranch wife.
I help women in the western industry grow thriving businesses from rural America.
When I am not strategizing new marketing tactics, you will find me riding my horses, cuddling my cattle dog, or kissing my hot husband.
There is also a good chance I am buying way too many outfits from western boutiques.

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