What do I look for in a second photographer? | Friday Chatter

March 13, 2020

Happy Friday, friends! I’m off enjoying time with the fam in Texas, but that doesn’t mean that you’re not getting a blog post! Today, I’m bringing you a classic #FridayChatter post, and as usual, I’m really excited to share this one with you! Today, I’m answering a question that I get quite often, and to be honest, the answer can be a little brutal to share AND a little long to share in a direct message or email: What do I look for in a second photographer?!

The truth is… it is a HUGE honor when people reach out with interest in working together! This is always something that means the world to me, but in reality, I have a very small network of wedding photographers that I work with most often, and when they aren’t available, I have very specific things that I look for to see if I would work well with another wedding or portrait photographer! My wedding couples put so much trust in me when they hire me for their wedding day. It is so incredibly important to me that they have the opportunity to work with a second photographer that I know and trust entirely.

With that being said, today I’m diving into THREE things I look for in a second photographer. These are definitely things that I think many photographers also look for across the board. I hope this is helpful! Let’s begin!

Skill level, style & experience

This may be an obvious one, but I want to dive into it a little more! Before working with someone, I want to ensure that they have the skill level I’m looking for AND that we are a stylistic match. Here’s the thing: all photographers use light in a different way, and it is always my hope that my second photographer and I look at light in a similar way. This ensures we are always on the same page during a wedding day and that my second photographer can help with location selection throughout the day. (I love having a helpful sounding board!) My goal is a cohesive gallery for my clients, and I always want to make sure that our images are lit as close to each other as possible!

In addition to that, I want to ensure any potential second photographers have prior experience working a wedding as a lead or second photographer. Oftentimes, I have second photographers work with the guys on their own as I work with the ladies to save time (Whether this be during getting ready photos, wedding party portraits, or another time of the day), and I want to know that they’ll be comfortable, confident, and productive during these times when I may not be available to help or answer questions.

To finish off this point, I also look for second photographers that have experience working with off-camera flash. It is so important that whoever I am working with is prepared for every lighting scenario.

Ability to listen to instructions

This one sounds a little… much… after putting it in writing, but it may be the BIGGEST takeaway from this post. PLEASE read, follow directions throughout your time working with other photographers, and be prompt with your communication. When I’m searching for a second photographer, whether it be someone I know personally, a connection through an online community, or another way of meeting, a HUGE thing I look for is their ability to listen to instructions. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve listed something on an online community with very specific instructions to comment on the listing with specific information, only to receive countless emails, personal DMs on Instagram, Facebook messages… I could go on and on. Yes, I am SO excited that people are excited about the opportunity to work together, but these personal messages ultimately get lost because I work right off of the list of comments I’ve received on the post to choose who will be working with me on a wedding day.

Now… why does this have anything to do with working together?! Before the wedding day, I want to know that I can rely on my second photographer to review and sign our work agreement, to read the timeline in advance, to prep their equipment, and to arrive to the day on time. Come wedding day, I want to know that I can trust my second photographer to do what I need and to make decisions as they work if needed. After the wedding day, I want to ensure that I can trust them to deliver their images from the day and that they’ll uphold their end of the agreement regarding image usage following the wedding day. Building trust in a photographer/second photographer relationship begins long before the wedding day. If I can’t trust someone to “apply” for the opportunity correctly? Chances are, we aren’t a match!

I am confident that they’ll represent my business well

Yes skill is absolutely vital and the ability to listen to instructions is key, but almost even more than these things, I’m constantly looking for second photographers that I know will mesh well with me and my work style. Ultimately, I’m looking for individuals that I know will represent my business well. The way a second photographer behaves is a huge reflection on me and my business. I want to know that they’ll love and serve my couple in a way that matches the way I do. I also want to ensure that we’ll get along throughout the day— having fun with a wedding day is so important!

Each photographer will define this category in their own way. Within my business, I am always looking for positive, upbeat individuals with an amazing work ethic & the desire to go above and beyond for the couple they are working for.

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