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Old August 11th, 2013, 11:10 PM   #1
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What qualities to look for in second shooters?

People dropping out the night before a wedding, or not showing up at all, is surely the worst thing that can happen, so obviously reliability is going to be the first on anyone's list. But where do you go to from there? What do you look for in applicants?

Rob Adams approach -- advertise for photographers looking to get into video, because you can teach exposure and focus and stability, but you can't teach creativity.

Loyalty seems to be what every videographer wants. "I want to build a team that will work together long-term." Easier said than done. Rob Adams also advertises for people who want the "position" of second or third shooter, rather than just a quick buck over a weekend.

Thinking more about doc shooting generally rather than weddings in particular, I think there's at least five important qualities, plus one thing you've got to have. You've got to have at least basic logistics and technical skills to pass go.

Then there's talents that some but not everyone will have:

1. Be in tune with and able to capture content in the first place. Easier said than done. Got to refrain from developing tunnel vision, keep tabs on what's happening that your lens is not seeing, react quickly to people laughing, etc, and know what's going to happen next, so you're in the best position for it. Really skilful camera operators are so in touch with the action, that if they're filming someone cooking, and the person drops a carrot on the floor, the camera will tilt down to follow it.

2. Skills with focus, exposure, ISO, white balance, smooth camera movement, etc. Adjust the camera quickly, accurately, smoothly. Be able to focus instantly. Know how to conceal awkward movements. With ENG cameras, it used to be the case (is it still?) that you have rings for focus, zoom and iris on the lens; I remember a camera operator who could operate all three at the same time one-handed.

3. Artistry/creativity. A photographer's eye for composition and image, with the extended vocabulary of movement. Able to think quickly to work out how to add something to an image that enhances the content.

4. Sheer stamina, particularly if you're carrying that thing shoulder-mounted all day.

5. People skills.

I tend to think, for the purpose of recruiting, that a good operator has to have at least three out of five, and a great operator at least four out of five...
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Old August 11th, 2013, 11:39 PM   #2
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Re: What qualities to look for in second shooters?

Speed. You'll notice that some people fiddle around with the controls too much, then try to adjust camera angles multiple times, and generally complain about things that don't go right. Other people pull their camera out and start shooting great video in 15 seconds.
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Old August 12th, 2013, 01:41 AM   #3
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Re: What qualities to look for in second shooters?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adrian Tan View Post
I tend to think, for the purpose of recruiting, that a good operator has to have at least three out of five, and a great operator at least four out of five...
If that is the case those people will have their own company specialising in wedding video's :)

There is no substitute for experience, I would expect from a freelancer to know his gear but take a highly trained camera operator into a wedding, which he has never done before, and he will miss a lot of important shots. It's the experience you build capturing such a fast moving event that makes the difference.
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Old August 12th, 2013, 01:47 AM   #4
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Re: What qualities to look for in second shooters?

One of the key qualities I looked for when I picked a second shooter was their level of ambition to further their own careers. Everything you have been here and asked, everything you have learned from your own experiences, you are going to share with your second shooter to enhance their value to you. The better they are and the closer you work together, the more you will share about your business as well. In no time at all, a close professional relationship is going to be the cheapest and fastest education in how to run Adrian's Video Business, a person could ever get.

Now that they know it all from marketing to final delivery, what's stopping them from going out and becoming your newest and best possible clone/competitor ???
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Old August 12th, 2013, 02:27 AM   #5
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Re: What qualities to look for in second shooters?

What's a good operator? certainly not some one that uses a camera well. If we are applying it to weddings, then I agree with Noa ... it's knowing how the event unfolds. Where you need to be etc and that only comes with experience ...

My brother is a part time photographer, I bet if I ask him to video as a second shooter, he'll do a better job than a pro from a different line of video work as he's been shooting photos at lots of weddings so knows the event well.
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Old August 12th, 2013, 05:36 AM   #6
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Re: What qualities to look for in second shooters?

IMO, regardless of who you use, whether they know how to use their gear or not (hopefully they have at last a basic understanding of their camera gear), whether they have done weddings before or not, (hopefully they have done at least a few and can read the printed program that the vast majority of brides and grooms spend countless hours and dollars on for the ceremony) regardless of whether or not they're a people person (I've know guys over the years that have the personality of a mop yet have produced some of the best work I've ever seen) whether or not they are looking to further their careers (I used to use a guy in the past who wasn't looking to make it big, he simply enjoyed his role as a 2nd shooter, had a good time with basically no responsibility and produced very nice work) I want someone who will and can listen and understand the simple instructions I might give them; IE, 'for the vows this is the shot I want you to give me...a nice 3 shot from the waist up...leave a little headroom and hold that until they're done with the vows and rings other than that , give me a medium wide shot but don't go from edge to edge because this church is so big that the people will get lost is the width of the shot. Any questions? No, great'. And then they get mad and try to defend their footage when after you load it in, you look at it and it looks like it was shot from across the street because they shot it all on a wide shot.
Just an off the top of my head example but stuff like this drives me nuts and frankly, if you can't follow my directions then stay home. I'm better off without your footage.
Just sayin'!
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Old August 12th, 2013, 01:58 PM   #7
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Re: What qualities to look for in second shooters?

I have edited more than I have shot, and I would have to agree with Don. They need to follow instructions or editing is a pain.
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