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Monday, November 25, 2013

Why I Don't Use Second Shooters at My Women's Portrait Sessions

Q: Do you ever use a second shooter when you shoot portraits of women?

When it comes to shooting a weddings, second shooters are one of the most valuable tools in your bag. But when it comes to beauty portraits, I prefer not to have a second shooter. It’s a completely different ball game. The portraits I take of women are very focused on the one-on-one relationship that I build with the woman I’m photographing. The more people busing around, the more distractions that interfere with that connection I’m building. I like to shoot in private locations, corners, tight alleyways
(and these days, quiet beaches)— anywhere that boxes us in so we feels protected in our own little world. I want it to feel like it’s just the two of us staring back at each other. I find this intimate atmosphere helps me keep control over the woman’s attention, energy level, posing, expressions in her face and the quality of connection she has with me through the camera. The further away I move from her, the more action buzzing around us, the more people talking in the background, it’s all interfering with this intimate atmosphere.

However, I love shooting having an assistant. A good assistant actually contributes to the intimate atmosphere by making it possible for you (the photographer) to focus on shooting while they deal with moving reflectors, hair dryings, clothing etc... If you have to do all that little stuff it instantly chips away at your connection with the woman you're photographing.

A behind the scenes photographer is also a valuable gem. They aren't disrupting the shoot because they're quiet in the background. The images they take can be used on your blog, website, promo videos etc... You can also include these behind the scenes images as a special surprise gift for your clients. They may pay you for the final artwork but they'll also value these little snapshots that bring back memories of their photo shoot experience. BTS is a great delighter!

If you'd like to try working with assistants & behind the scenes photographers, there are tons of people out there on Craigslist, Model Mayhem, Facebook etc... looking for experience and they're usually willing to volunteer their time.

Side note: The more I photograph families and couples I realize that a second shooter would be extremely helpful for that too, not as necessary as with weddings, but there is so much to capture during those shoots, especially when parents are trying to make their kids laugh!

Shout out to my favorite second shooter & behind the scenes photography buddy!! Miss. Cheryl Ford of Cheryl Ford Photography!