How to Hire a Qualified 2nd Shooter for a WeddingBy
Guest Blogger Robert Hillis wrote a great article titled “Key Reasons to Bring Along a 2nd Shooter to a Wedding”. One of our awesome Facebook fans Sarah Higdon-Lopez commented on Robert’s post and that lead to the question of how do you find a photographer to be a 2nd shooter and how much should you pay them?
When you commit to photographing a couple’s wedding, you’re taking on a huge responsibility. Having a 2nd shooter there is a great way to make sure you capture all of those special moments. They’re also a great backup incase you miss a shot or have an equipment failure. Sarah’s husband has shot with her in the past but if you don’t have a spouse with the “skills to pay the bills” how do you find a quality photographer to help you out?
The first thing you need to do is to be honest with yourself and evaluate your skills and experience level. Sarah is a new photographer to the scene so it might be a good idea to try and find someone that has a little more experience shooting weddings. Start by contacting other local photographers. Search online or look in your Yellow Pages for photographers specializing in weddings and contact them to discuss your needs. Some may not want to get involved because of the whole “competition thing” but I’m sure you’ll find many who are happy to help out, especially if they’re not busy on the dates you need them.
Once you’ve found a few, set up a time to meet with them. Go grab some coffee at a local diner or something, and keep the meeting light and friendly. This isn’t about competition, it’s about camaraderie. Ask them to bring their portfolio for your to take a look at and spend some time just shooting the breeze. After an hour together looking through their work and talking, you’ll have a pretty good idea if they’ll fit with your photographic style and personality.
If all seems good ask if they have any gigs lined up that you could tag along to (they may be hesitant but it’s worth asking). The proof is in the pudding and the only way to know how someone works is by watching them work. You can go as part of their crew but just be a fly on the wall. Dress appropriately, hang back and watch. Stick around long enough for the formal shots and part of the reception. You want to see how they interact with the bride and groom as well as the other guests.
At this point you’ll know if they’re the right person to add to your team, now it’s a matter of money. How much should you pay them for their time?
As a 2nd shooter they don’t have the responsibility of managing the full wedding, their only responsibility is to shoot. Provide them with memory cards for their camera so all they have to do is give them back to you at the end of the wedding. You need to agree up front that the images belong to you under your copyright. If you want to work something out with them so they could use a few images for their portfolio, that’s up to you.
You could either pay them by the hour or by the job, but either way you’ll want to start out figuring what you can afford to pay them per hour. How many hours is the couple booking you for and will you need the 2nd shooter the entire time? You also have to look at the couple’s budget. Are they going for a bare bones package or something with a little more wiggle room to pay for a 2nd shooter?
A reasonable rate for an experienced freelancer who is using their own gear would be between $50 – $75 per hour. If you were supplying all the gear you may be able to go more towards the lower side. If you need the 2nd shooter for 10 hours you’re looking between $500 and $750 for the day. In the grand scheme of things this really is a small price to pay for experience and security. More experienced photographers may want a higher per hour or day rate, so you’ll have to evaluate those factors to see if you really need all that experience on your team.
Many less experienced photographers are more than happy working for a lower hourly rate or even for free just to get some experience. If you feel confident in your skills and have enough experience shooting weddings, this may be a very cost effective approach to take. Check with you local camera clubs and post a request on your social networks, you’ll be surprised how many photographers will respond.
If you’d like to offer some suggestions or experiences you’ve had in hiring a second shooter, please feel free to join the discussion and add you comments below.