Hiring A Second Shooter with Cassidy Mister

On The DMV Wedding Pros Podcast this week, I got to chat with Cassidy Mister from Cassidy MR Photography.

Cassidy Mister has been a professional photographer for about six years, with a background in graphic design. She's also the leader of a Tuesdays Together group in Easton, MD, and she loves lifting others up by being a leader in the community. On today's episode we talked about how to find a second shooter, how to set expectations for a second shooter, and how to make sure they fit your style and your brand.

Hey Cassidy - I'm so excited to have you! Tell us a little bit more about yourself.

I'm a photographer and graphic designer from Maryland. I use my background to help educate others, and I serve clients in weddings and portraits!

We are going to talk second shooting today. I think I want to get started just by asking you - if someone wants to get into second shooting, how would you recommend them going about that?

I would just say put yourself out there. Go on local Tuesdays Together groups or House of Flynn groups or any photography-based groups and post, "Hey! I want to get into weddings. I'm not really experienced. Can I shadow?" Sometimes people can be a non-shooting assistant first. I had one of my past brides become a non-shooting assistant for a couple of my weddings. She wasn't comfortable enough to have the responsibility of shooting yet. I told her she could be my non-shooting assistant and shoot a little bit for fun if she wanted to, but there was no obligation. That way she could learn how a day flows and what I'm looking for.

You just have to dive right in - find a photographer willing to give you a chance. The Honeybook community groups are also a great place to look. Once you become more comfortable with a wedding timeline, you can start putting yourself out there as a second shooter. Or even tell the primary shooters that you work with, "I'd love to work with you all year if you can give me all the dates." If not, "Hey, do you have any photographers friends you can refer me to?" There's always people in Facebook groups that are looking for second shooters!

As people starting out in the wedding industry, we always dread getting asked "How many weddings have you shot?" I mean, it's a valid question, but I think what's more important is what kind of experience you have at weddings. With photographers and videographers in particular, if we know how weddings work we are much better at our jobs. Weddings are a different game than portraits, or whatever other type of photography you get into, and to understand how a wedding timeline works and be able to anticipate the events at weddings is an invaluable skill. That's definitely something to think about too, just in gaining experience. You're gaining experience on how a wedding day runs.

Yeah, exactly. And that's something I find a lot of brides, grooms, bridesmaids, and groomsmen struggle with, too. Being a part of the wedding day. If they've never been in a wedding, or even to a wedding, they just aren't familiar with how things can be run to be less stressful. That's really the end goal, to make the day as easy-going and stress-free as it can be for the couple.

So then if you're looking for someone who's a little bit more of an experienced second shooter, where do you usually go to find them?

So, kind of the same thing as I mentioned when you're looking to be a second shooter. You can post in the Honeybook community about your budget. You can say, "I pay my second shooters X, Y, or Z, or this amount hourly, or with this package they get this amount. I'm looking for someone who shoots with this gear, prime lens, and has whatever experience." There is a second shooter and lead shooter Facebook group as well that's made primarily for people to find second shooters, and lead shooters to refer to if they're booked. Even asking your other reputable photographers in your community, "Who do you use for second shooting? Do you know anybody that might be available XYZ? Do you know anybody in this area that I could use?" Basically just expanding within your community because there are some photographers that don't share that they second shoot, and they may be a prime second shooter that is making your day as a primary so stress-free, and you won't know unless you ask.

That's awesome! I have only had a second shooter with me one time in five years of shooting weddings, so it's definitely not an area that I have a lot of expertise in. It's not something I've thought about before, how much a second shooter can really help a primary day-of.

Oh, yes. I include them in all my wedding packages. I, too, have shot weddings without a second shooter. That was also at the beginning of my business, but it's so much less stressful having a second shooter because you always have back up. If you sprain your ankle, they can get up and shoot the first kiss or whatever happens. If anything happens to you on the way there, they've got you, and vice versa. Also in terms of data files and stuff like that, there's always additional pictures, even if it might not be at the same perfect angle. It's still content. And clients who aren't creatives or photographers are not looking for perfect. I mean, they want perfect, but they don't see it the way that us creators do, they just want the content. It also just feels good having someone to talk with during the day so you're not lonely. Teamwork makes the dream work!

Definitely. I started bringing a non-shooting assistant with me sometimes, and it's so nice to have someone to just breathe with when things slow down.

And also let's talk about behind-the-scenes! That's one of my favorite reasons to have a second shooter. If they can capture me in the moment with my couple in the pictures, then I have more content to share how my experience is. Here's me showing up! Here's me doing what you see! I think that's one of the best parts.

Absolutely. And I'll say too, even if you're someone who is shooting without a second shooter, if you just make a conscious effort to take a few photos of other vendors as they're working, they are going to looooove you for that. They're going to want to share that photo, and tag you in it, and share how much they loved working with you. We all want behind the scenes content, we all want to show off what we're doing on a wedding day. So, pro tip, take pictures of everyone.

Yes, and pro tip - make sure your email is on your website and not through a contact form. So when said photographer is ready to send galleries, they can find your email instead of having to ask and beg for it, because then we get too busy and just won't get to it. You'll have to come after us!