For Photographers: How to Start Working as a Second Shooter

Hey friends! This one’s for the new photographer who sees all these weddings… and is thinking, wow, I really want to start! But if I don’t know anyone getting married, where in the world am I supposed to start?!

Two and a half years ago, I moved to Columbus, Ohio. I didn’t know a single person. No photographers, let alone many friends my age who were newly engaged! After moving here, I did one of the biggest things that has catapulted my business. Second shooting allowed me to connect with other photographers in the area and get to know others in my community. It has connected me with new friends, and has also led to booking my own weddings from their referrals! So this sounds great, right? Well, there’s definitely a RIGHT way and a WRONG way to approach photographers you want to work with. Here are my 3 tips for finding weddings to second shoot at:

1. Offer to take them out for coffee or buy them lunch. I will say, that there are a lot of photographers Instead of emailing local photographers asking THEM for work, offer to take them out and buy them coffee and express your willingness to HELP them. I promise you won’t get nearly as many nos. :) When you first email someone, the best way to develop a working relationship with them is to first build some trust. Don’t immediately ask when they need a second shooter (this sounds more like, when can I come with you, get paid, and be the only one to benefit from it?). Ask the photographer when an ideal time is for them to meet, where their favorite coffee shop is, that you would love to sit and hear more about them, and, once you’ve met, let them know you’d love to help them in any way they need it (see my next point). I can’t promise everyone and anyone will respond, but the last approach gives the impression of, “How can I help YOU?” not, “How can you help me?” Even so, don’t be shocked if you still get a no. Photographers can be super busy, and especially if you email them in the middle of October, they probably don’t even have time to meet with a friend for coffee. Show that you’ve done your homework a little bit- browse their website, follow them on Instagram, read their blog, and reflect that when you reach out to them. Show that you’ve loved following along and your willingness to help them.

2. Work for free (but only for a few). I only recommend doing this for your first few weddings, and even then, pick and choose to do this wisely. The first few weddings I shot completely for free, because I was totally new, had no idea what I was doing, and desperately wanted to learn. I wasn’t an official second shooter, but just an “assistant” to come along and learn. Because of my willingness to work for free for a few weddings, that same photographer now pays me to second shoot ALL the time! :) After she saw how much I loved it, what work I could produce, and how hard I worked, I quickly became the first person she would ask to second shoot for her Columbus weddings. Again, definitely be aware of where you’re at, and once you get to a certain point, I definitely don’t recommend this. But when you have no experience to show, this goes a long way in your willingness!!

3. Join some local Facebook groups. This has been a huge factor for me as well in connecting with others in Columbus!! Groups like Tuesdays Together (Columbus) is a wonderful way to find photographers to second shoot with. I see people asking for second shooters all the time in there. But better yet, attending a few of their meetings and actually meeting in person some of them will help a LOT in getting connected. It also gives you an outlet to meet other photographers, then offer to meet up again one-on-one and buy them coffee (see point 1). :) If you’re not in the Columbus area, there are Tuesdays Togethers all over the country. Find a local chapter at the Rising Tide Society.

That’s it! Feel free to shoot me an email at if you have any questions!! :)

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