Finding a second shooter for a wedding cinematography team is similar to owning a horse.
Let me start by saying I am not a horse owner, nor do I ever plan on purchasing one. They intimidate me slightly, and I don’t care to smell a horse when it’s wet, so there is really no point in calling one my own. That being said, this post will have some direct similarities to finding yourself a skilled second shooter along with the responsibilities of owning one of these majestic creatures.
When looking for the person(s) that would be able to carry a pretty big responsibility as second shooting with a wedding cinematography team, here are some qualities and soft skills I look for:
Compatibility – First and foremost, you must to be on the same page with the expectations being discussed. Hands down, my favorite characteristic. Sometimes an aged horse fits the bill, sometimes a yearling. It’s all relative, and you want a shooter that is bomb proof (someone who doesn’t spook easily). We all know weddings can scare the mess out of you if you don’t know what to expect or how to anticipate the flow of a wedding day, look for a well trained person with a conditioned response so they can properly handle things.
Commitment – Once your shooter is found, now you can train and teach them the way you want them to handle their responsibilities. Commitment is needed on both sides of the fence, from the colt and the purebred. As a second shooter, if you commit yourself to assisting with a wedding, you should never, ever, (did I say ever) back out of said wedding, especially days before the event. This can cause rogue behavior with the purebred also causing a slight panic, not to mention being unprofessional on the second shooters part. I get it, things happen, but taking another job because it seems cooler or may pay more is just wrong. There are no do overs with weddings and though the purebred may have a list of wedding cinematographers to step in if needed, they too may be booked that day already. The purebred was able to build lasting relationships, and have people to rely on, because at one point they too were a yearling and they proved themselves being compatible and committed.
Communication – This is a key factor in almost any situation. Talk about expectations. Review the footage of your second shooter as soon as you can after the event. Make those corrections, critique their work, give constructive (not destructive) criticism and give kudos when they do a great job! This leads back to either being compatible, or unsound. If you find your second shooter not a fit for you, or your business model, maybe it’s time for that horse to be put out to pasture.
**side note – sometimes as a wedding vendor, it takes a lot of running, never taking a break and being on your feet all day. When it does come time to eat dinner, Please leave the feed bags at home. Be Professional. Always.
Also, Don’t EVER Nae, Nae, or Whip for that matter!
Lastly, Cinematography – Toys are fun (drones, sliders, etc.) but if you don’t use them properly the footage isn’t worth anything. Be a solid shooter with the tools you use frequently. Don’t be a chief. I feel the role of a second shooter is to get solid, usable footage. Finding someone who can compose a shot, nail the exposure and have the ability to keep things in focus are a great start. I’ll take 5 minutes of solid stuff over 2 and a half hours of footage that gets trashed any day. Also, be prepared to handle your duties like you would a lead shooter. Always have extra cards, batteries and lenses with you, it saves you from interrupting the day or running out to your car.
During this process you may have to put up with a lot of horse manure in order to find your shooter, but once you do, you’ll be galloping like “Hoof Hearted” to the finish line with a great team, leading the way!
So, as I did my research to find some useful horse related terms for this blog, please do the same when looking for a solid second shooter for your wedding cinematography business, and hopefully your second cinematographer doesn’t smell nearly as bad as a wet horse!
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