second shooter

How To: Be a Stellar Second Shooter | Part II

Have gear like a photographer - the most geeky post I will ever write

The Basics:

DSLR (Digital single-lens reflex) camera + a lens

Really.  At minimum, those are the only two pieces of equipment that you need to start second shooting.  

Icing on the cake? A prime lens and a flash.

To prove my point, I'll be vulnerable and post a few photos from one of the first weddings I ever second shot with Chloe Giancola Photography - using a Nikon D3000, 35mm f/1.8 lens, and a SB600 flash at the reception.


So, let’s cover some of what that is, your options and how expensive these thing tend to be.

Camera Bodies:

The most popular camera bodies are going to be Nikon, Canon, and Sony has recently started making some really great cameras and is becoming a contender in the DSLR game.

Don’t stress too much about which one you need to get.  Mostly it’s preference, but once you choose, stick with it because all your lenses will be interchangeable.  I personally shoot Nikon, but I think mostly that has to do with the fact that that’s what my dad and grandfather had.  It's genetic. :)

I'll be using Nikon for my example because that is what I am the most familiar with.

Entry Level NIkon DSLR - D3200 - D5500 ($450-$800) - Great cameras for learning without spending a fortune.

Prosumer Level Nikon DSLR - D90, D7000-7200, D300S (~$1200)

Professional Level Nikon DSLR - D600 - D4S (~$1400+) - These are "full frame" camera bodies which allow for higher quality in all areas of the image.


kit lens - The lens that usually comes with a camera body. It’s very versatile because of the ability to zoom, but not the most ideal for portraits because the aperture is usually f/3.5 or 4 ($200-500)

prime lens - usually a 35mm, 50mm, or 85mm lens with a aperture of f/2 or less.  My workhorse kind of lens.  It’s ideal for portraits or if you want the blurry background known as “bokeh”. ($200-1600)

telephoto zoom lens - for really close up zoom.  good for a large ceremony space. (~$400-2000)

macro lens - (Nikon calls it micro) allows you to get really close to an object.  Great for getting those ring shots. ($250-1000)

wide angle lens - ex. 24mm - great for large bridal parties or small rooms so that you can pack more into a photo.  Too wide and it becomes a fisheye.  ($250-1700)

As you can tell, lenses come in wide varieties of sizes and prices depending on your needs.


flash attachment - more powerful than the flash that’s built into your camera.  Used if the reception or ceremony space is dimly lit.

off camera flash - the flash is not attached to your camera, but on a stand (usually multiple flashes) set up around the room and controlled by a remote.  Great for allowing more light on your subject so that there aren’t crazy shadows, but you have to be careful not to point your camera at the flash otherwise your image will be blown out.  

"But I don’t have the money for all that equipment.  What do I do?"

Renting is an option if you’re not ready to buy or you want to try something out before you make the big purchase.

A couple options:

PPR in Atlanta also rents equipment.

Buying equipment used is also an option to save some money.  

photo by Chloe Giancola Photography

photo by Chloe Giancola Photography

Memory Cards & Shooting

Learn how to shoot in manual and shoot in RAW.  RAW images allow for better editing capabilities because all the different levels can be manipulated if necessary.  Think of it like a 3D image as compared to a flat image.  JPEG pre-applies colors and is less desirable for editing.  JPEG is better if you are going to shoot and share immediately.  

Memory Cards - some photographers may ask you to shoot on your cards or they may have you shoot on their cards and just have you turn them over when the event is finished.  If you want to keep your photos for your portfolio, I would suggest bringing your computer along so that you can upload them immediately after the event in case you have to give the cards back.  Or, if your camera has dual memory card slots consider making a copy on the second as you shoot. 

I hope now you're ready to pack your camera bag and go shoot some amazing photos no matter what equipment you have! 

Part 3 comin' at ya soon! 

Happy Shooting,


How To: Be a Stellar Second Shooter | Part I

Dress like a photographer

First off, you might be asking, "What's a second shooter?".  A second shooter is what it sounds like.  It's an extra photographer who has been hired on by another photographer, or a "lead photographer."  This person is usually contracted out for weddings or other events so that there are multiple perspectives and extra photos taken.  The reason people second shoot is because it's a great way to gain experience and start building a portfolio, there's no editing required, and there's usually a little extra cash in your pocket.  Plus, it's fun to get to do what you're passionate about! 

I started learning about wedding photography as a second shooter, and still do second shooting on occasions when I can because that means I get to hang with all my photog friends doing what we love to do together :)  

Everyone starts somewhere and I'm thankful for all the lovely ladies who let me follow them around and ask them questions.  There are some things I think I did well as a second shooter and some things I think I probably could've done better.  Now, being on the other side and hiring people to second shoot, I see so much more the reasoning behind why we do what we do or why the lead photographer has certain requests, restrictions, or requirements.  

In this little series of blog posts, I hope to give a few pointers to anyone who is looking to get into wedding photography and how to get there.  Please feel free to shoot me questions, give me suggestions on what you think future posts should be, or even let me know if I left anything out. 

Thanks for reading!

left: by second shooter, Danielle Hulsey; right: by lead photographer, Holly Von Lanken

left: by second shooter, Danielle Hulsey; right: by lead photographer, Holly Von Lanken

For this first installment of, "How To: Be a Stellar Second Shooter", we're going to talk about clothes - that's right ladies, fashion.  It's a fun topic so why not start there?  If you're going to be a photographer, look the part :)


They need to be COMFORTABLE.  That's the key word here, people.  As a photographer, you are on your feet for 8+ hours on a wedding day.  You need to make sure your feet won't be killing you by the time it's all over.  Unless you are superwoman, I wouldn't suggest wearing heels. 

left: tieks ; right: TOMS

left: tieks ; right: TOMS

There are plenty of other shoes out there and you may already have your favorite pair, but here are a couple suggestions from me: Tieks & TOMS. 


Why the color black you might ask? 

1. It looks professional.

2. It hides sweat on those hot summer days ;)

3. It helps you blend in with the other guests, the background, etc.

The scientific reason...

4. It won't reflect any weird light on your image because black absorbs all light.  

Not every photographer will require that you wear all black, but when in doubt, it's not a bad idea.

left: Me! by Chloe Giancola; right: photo for Chloe Giancola by me.

left: Me! by Chloe Giancola; right: photo for Chloe Giancola by me.

Nice, but comfortable.

It's a long day.  Wear something that you'll be comfortable in.  However, you are photographing a wedding, which is a nice event.  You want to blend in with the guests and protect the integrity of the event.

GOOD: Dress pants or skirt + blouse, dress, etc. (for the ladies); dress pants + button down shirt, potential for a tie (for the gents)

Personally, I love a good cotton dress, but you need to look like you so throw in your own personal touches like a scarf or belt.

BAD: shorts & jeans

Now that you look like a photographer, you'll need some gear... 

until next time,


love my second shooter, brides & grooms!

love my second shooter, brides & grooms!