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Second Shooter FAQs

Certified Professional Photographer, Andrea Hartstein, answers the questions lead photographers often ask second shooters.

You, as a Photographer.

What’s in your gear bag?

  • Canon 6D

  • Canon 50mm

  • Canon 85mm

  • Canon 24-70mm

  • Canon 70-200mm

  • Canon 100mm macro

  • 2x Camera Batteries + Canon Battery Charger

  • Radio Poppers

  • 2x 800w Alien Bees

  • Vagabond Battery Pack

  • Westcott Apollo Deep Umbrella, white 43"

  • Westcott Apollo Deep Umbrella, white 53"

  • Magmod 

  • Canon Flash

  • Small reflector

  • Hair pins, bobby pins, small lint roller, breath mints, feminine products, blister bandaids, small first aid kit, water bottle

Do you have backup equipment?

No.  When I️ photograph important events myself, I️ rent the best equipment for the day and consider my own equipment as backup.   

Are you familiar with other brands of shooting equipment?

I️ am not.  

Do you know how to use flash?


How often do you photograph weddings?

I personally do not pursue weddings.  However, I️ am happy to shoot a wedding for a family member.  I️ have been the lead photographer for about a dozen weddings and for a handful more as a second shooter.  I️  would love to help photograph weddings every week.

What are your expectations of a second shooter, what job duties and responsibilities does that include?

I am incredibly flexible and understand that every photographer works differently and has their own expectations.  I️ first and foremost take my cues from the lead photographer and expect to do whatever they ask of me.  

If they need me from sunrise til late into the night - I'll be there.

If they need me to carry their gear - done.


Many of the jobs and responsibilities I️ expect to encounter include but are not limited to:

  • Photographing the ceremony, reception & details (and anything else the photographer asks of me).

  • Hold reflectors

  • Set up lights

  • Get the lead photographer water

  • Carry gear

  • Pose people

  • Manage the formal portrait shot list & keep people corralled and ready.

  • Literally anything the lead photographer needs me to do.

  • When asked for photography information - only provide the lead photographer's information.

  • Provide exceptional customer service to everyone I️ meet.

  • Likewise, present myself in a professional manner that reflects well on the lead photographer.

Are you comfortable with walking up to a stranger and telling them how to pose?


Give me three poses off the top of your head for a bride/groom, bridesmaids and groomsmen to do.

If I️  only had a short amount of time, I️  would set up the Bride and Groom in a very traditional pose - standing with their arms around their backs.  From there, I️ would move myself around them to get different angles.  I️ would have them make slight changes to get different looks - moving their heads in different directions, looking at each other, one closing their eyes and the other looking straight at me, one looking off into the distance, etc.  

One of my favorite most dynamic bridal party shots is to have the bridal party form a V.  This can either be all girls on one side with all boys on the other side or have them paired up.  Then I️  move the Bride and Groom to the center and pull them in front of the group.  This way, the bride and groom stand out, but you can still see everyone else behind them.  

I️f I️  had a bride in front of me, I️  would find a window and have her sit down with her feet pointing away from the window and then bring her face/nose back toward the light.  

If the primary shooter tells you to shoot one thing and the mother of the bride comes up to you and asks you to shoot something else, what would you do?

I️ would do something slightly different depending on the situation.  Ultimately, I️  look to the lead photographer for cues and will always follow what they ask of me.  If I'm approached by MOB and it's not an immediate request, I️ will find the lead photographer and ask them what they want me to prioritize.  If what the MOB is asking is something simple and relatively quick, I'm happy to just do it. It's my goal to always make the lead photographer look incredible and part of that is providing superb customer service.

What are your objectives for second shooting with our company?

I️ love shooting.  I️ enjoy preserving memories for people and I️ enjoy shooting as an outlet of artistic expression.   I️ have my own business and it's not in wedding photography.  My objective is to earn money doing something that I️ love and to fill my shooting days whether with my own work or with that of helping other photographers. I️ enjoy weddings more when I️ can shoot and be done rather than to still have the job of culling, editing, and delivering.

Do you own and operate your own photography business?


How would you describe your shooting style?

Traditional, shallow dof, storytelling

What mode and format do you shoot in most often?

Format - sRAW

Mode - Aperture Priority

Are you looking to keep the rights to the images you shoot under our company? How do you want to use the images that you take under our company?

As an independent contractor, I️ prefer to maintain the copyright to the images I️  produce.  I️ prefer to agree that the lead photographer has unrestricted use of the image and agree not to use the images produced to market to potential wedding clients.  The most important reason why I️  would prefer to maintain the copyright to the images I️ produce is so that I️ can use the images to build a portfolio to show to lead wedding photographers who are considering me.  I️ am not opposed to negotiating on this.

What shooting experience do you have prior to this?

I became a professional photographer in 2007 and earned my certification of professional photography through the Professional Photographers of America in 2020. I️ have experience photographing all genres of people photography.  I️ have experience with off-camera flash, as well as studio strobes.  I️ have experience in low-light photography.  

Did you go to school for photography?

No.  I have a college degree in History.  I️ have taken traditional photography classes in high school and in college.  However, I️ did not go to a photography school.  I've learned most of what I️  know from countless hours of reading, workshops, and personal experience.

I️n order to remain a Certified Professional Photographer, I️  have to complete continuing education.   

Name a situation where you needed to use time management skills. How well did you apply those skills?

Formal Family Portrait time during the wedding is when I️ feel I️ am most effective.  When shooting my own weddings, I️  meet with the bride and groom ahead of time to talk about details.  We create a list together of people who should be in the formal portraits.  We determine the timing of portraits based upon 2 minutes per group.  On the wedding day, I️ arrive with a clipboard and a printed list of all of the groupings.  We prioritize children and older family members who don't move so well, but otherwise, we start with the biggest group and we work our way down to the smallest - the bride and groom.  I️  utilize the MOH & BM (because between the two of them, they should know everyone being photographed) to gather the next group.  I️ also utilize the second shooter to keep track of whom we've photographed and to call out the next group to be on deck.  This has proven to be the most effective use of time for me on wedding day.

What do you most enjoy about your life?

I am a believer in Jesus Christ as my Savior.  I️ fell in love with photography when I️  realized there was something in my photographs that gave me joy when I️  looked at them.  It was like I️ was chasing this beautiful light.  And as I started to photograph births, I️ felt this feeling again of chasing miracles, chasing love.  And I️ very much enjoy that.  Outside of photography, there is nothing like family.  I️  enjoy my family immensely.  

What would make you work your hardest?


What are your hobbies and interests outside of work?

Genealogy, history, traveling, coffee, spending time with family

If your boss was absolutely wrong, and you knew it, how would you go about dealing with that?

I️ would respectfully tell them that I️ believe they're wrong.  And if they still maintain that they're right - I️ keep my opinion/facts to myself and do everything I can to support my boss.  It's kinder to be truthful and honest, but once I've said something to them once, they don't need to hear me say it again.  If they further ask me my opinion, I️ will always give the most truthful answer I️ can.  

Technical Skills

If you are shooting outside what range of ISO would you use in direct sunlight and in shade?

The best ISO for direct light is ISO 100.  This will produce the highest image quality.  The higher your ISO climbs, the more noise will be produced.  ISO 400 is a good place to start when in the shade or on a rainy day.  Each time you double the ISO (100 to 200, for example), you double the brightness.

If you are shooting inside what range of ISO would you use?

The highest ISO you can use while feeling comfortable with the noise produced.  Otherwise, the range is often about ISO1600- ISO 3200.

If you’re trying to get the background blurry and the foreground in focus, how would you go about doing that?

There are a few things you can do. 

One secret to getting beautiful bokeh is to use a lens that has an aperture of no less than 2.8. 

Using aperture priority mode (photographer chooses the aperture, the camera chooses the shutter) ensures that we can always stay within that bokeh producing aperture range.

Using a zoom lens can also produce a more compressed image when you use the lens fully zoomed out.

You can also get a better bokeh by separating the subject from the background - simply pull the subject away from the background.

What aperture would you use when shooting a larger group?

My favorite rule of thumb is to set your aperture to no lower a number than the number of people in the group.  So if there are only 2 people, no less than an aperture of 2.  If you have a group of 10 - an aperture of 11 would be a safer choice than 8.  


What type of lens would you use for a macro shot?

I️ would use my 100mm macro lens. 

If you’re shooting in a church and you’re not allowed to go up to the altar, what lens would be most beneficial, Canon 24-70mm/2.8 or the 70-200mm/2.8?

The 70-200mm/2.8, hands down.

If you look at your camera and the photos are turning out blurry, what are some solutions to fix that?

  • A faster shutter speed will help.  A good rule of thumb is that you shouldn't handhold at a shutter speed less than the lens length.  So if you're using a 50mm, you wouldn't want to choose a shutter speed slower than 1/60. 

  • If you need to shoot with a shutter speed slower, then you can use a tripod.  

  • Shooting in burst mode will help.

  • Using the back button for focus will help.

  • Sometimes focusing manually will help.

  • Use a smaller aperture.  More of the image will be in focus.

  • Use a lower ISO.  The noise that comes with higher ISO will take a toll on the quality of the image.  

  • A clean lens will help. 

  • Choosing a lens with Image Stabilization will help.

If you notice your images are turning out darker than usual, how would you go about correcting this in-camera?

The best ways to get more light using your camera is through the ISO (using a higher ISO), the aperture (using a wider aperture) and the shutter speed (using a slower shutter speed).

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