"Second Shooter" is a term often used for a secondary photographer at a wedding. The first wedding I ever photographed, I was a 'second shooter.' And it's about more than just an additional camera on the scene. You are also there to help the primary photographer with equipment, lighting, gathering up guests and so on. It can be an excellent way to get your feet wet, gain some experience and most importantly confidence.
Just this Saturday I worked with Adam Frehm as an assistant, or second shooter, and it was incredible. As an established and respected professional his guidance and encouragement were as (if not more) valuable than any wage he could offer. He made it fun and not at all stressful (well...at least less stressful). I tried to be as big of a sponge as I could, and feel I walked away with some things to work on with a clear idea of how to improve. I appreciate him taking time to illuminate his methods, though I wish some of that charisma could rub off as well!
I personally really like second shooting. Not only for the chance to learn, but for a more relaxed, and fun or experimental way to attack a very traditional subject... a wedding
Everything you can provide to the primary photographer (unless they give you specific assignments) is gravy. So you have more creative freedom. You know they have the money shots covered. You don't have to worry so much about "the kiss" or family formal shots. Actually, I find the formal shots a great opportunity to get some of the best candids of the bridal party.
As they wait their turn, or take a break in between shots there is always laughter and they're all together, relaxed.
Without the pressure of the "shot list" you are more free to capture details, little memories that the bride and groom may forget unless they have that photo to remind them. For instance, when the bride and groom are waiting to cross a city street to get to their reception, with traffic honking their congratulations.
And since a person can't be in two places at once, when the primary photographer has to be somewhere, like up at the alter waiting to capture the brides entrance, the second shooter can hang out behind the scenes and get the flip side.
Oh, that last one is going to haunt me. There's always one or two from every shoot that haunts you. I really love that photo. The bride, her mother, the flower girls peeping over the railing. But it's ever just so blurry. Probably looks fine on the web, but blown up? so - so. Luckly, I also gleaned a bit of technical direction from Adam that I'm sure to take under advisement and hopefully I'll be able to avoid that in the future. Which is gravy for me.
It's fun. Really fun.
And I get a few more photos for my portfolio...and a little bit of homework.