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Old September 22nd, 2013, 03:04 AM   #1
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Second shooters - how do you justify less profit?

Is your second shooter your wife??

I've never really considered a two man shoot. Although I do shoot for another guy quite often and he works in pairs.

On these occasions I've discovered how less hectic it can be. But is it worth it?

To those of you who use second shooters, do you not just hate giving away a slice of your potential profit?

Or do you believe the benefits increase your bookings and so pays off in the end?
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Old September 22nd, 2013, 03:21 AM   #2
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Re: Second shooters - how do you justify less profit?

Hey Clive

I only use a 2nd shooter if I really have to! Like when I have a dual bridal prep so I just pay my 2nd shooter to go to the guys getting ready, bringing the camera back to the ceremony and then they go home.

I really cannot see any huge advantage in having a 2nd shooter at the ceremony as my main cam can run itself while I shoot cutaways on the 2nd camera and really, at the reception I cannot see any use for a 2nd shooter at all.

The extra footage from a 2nd shooter COULD get messed up (I have seen posts here to that story!) so I guess if you want to slack off and just supervise then it might be OK but I would rather know what I'm shooting, plus editing is easier cos I shot it so I remember any issues.

I have never had any bride cringe when they know I'm shooting solo so have never had a booking turned down because of that. If you are going to pay $500 for an assistant for the day, doesn't it make normal business sense to add at least $500 to your prices?? (unless it's your wife of course)

I'll stay solo always and only use a 2nd shooter IF I really cannot physically do two things at once ..and I do charge extra too!!! We work hard enough already without having to make a reduced income to carry a 2nd shooter.

Chris
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Old September 22nd, 2013, 04:20 AM   #3
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Re: Second shooters - how do you justify less profit?

If I could I"d always shoot with a second permanent shooter, would make life so much easier but I"m having a hard time to get it sold, my clients are not willing to pay the extra amount of cash for it, they see my demo's, ask if I did them alone which is the case and then say, "that's fine, we don't need a second shooter" after I explained the benefits to them.
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Old September 22nd, 2013, 04:37 AM   #4
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Re: Second shooters - how do you justify less profit?

This is a difficult one - If I shot with a second shooter then the potential for greater coverage and (dare I say it) more creative and artistic shooting would increase and thus justify an increase in the price for the couple - they's be getting an improved product.

If however the 'second shooter' is your wife/girlfriend/husband who simply waves a handycam around and is there basically to carry stuff and make your life easier on the day then I fail to see how you can pass this cost on - unless they are prepared to do it for free.

If it's a 3 site shoot sometimes my girlfriend comes and helps fetch and carry - she also films a little with my Sony VG20 on full auto but I don't charge more - I just treat her to a curry :)

For bridal prep I film up to an hour before the ceremony and then dash off and charge a certain price for this - for an small extra my girlfriend will turn up to film the last hour such as the leaving of the house etc. This is added value and so I'm happy adding an extra charge for it.

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Old September 22nd, 2013, 06:48 AM   #5
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Re: Second shooters - how do you justify less profit?

Over the years I've shot 2nd and used 2nds. there are good and bad points to both. Being a 2nd for me has still meant, shoot it like I was #1. IOW, don't get stupid about framing, focus, etc. because what if the 1st has a problem with his camera or whatever. I don't take over of course but put as much care into shooting 2nd as when I'm 1st.

As for using 2nds, there are 1 or 2 guys I trust implicitly. Enough to the point that I really don't have to say much to them and it does make me feel better that I have someone else shooting that pretty much thinks as I do. IOW shoot it like they own it. What if I have a camera failure etc.

I've worked with a few over the years that frankly gave me pause especially after loading the footage and yelling things like "you big dummmie!" and my fav "what the %^&%$#6675#%$@(&*^4543$##_++ were you thinking, what garbage"...I also have a 3rd unmanned running for a safety shot and in most cases it gets a better shot than the 2nd! ;-)

Like I said good and bad to both sides and while using a good 2nd who I and trust does lower my stress level a bit frankly I don't trust anyone so I try not to use a 2nd unless I had already committed to it when I sign the client OR it's a church that pretty much requires I have one because of the layout!
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Old September 22nd, 2013, 09:31 AM   #6
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Re: Second shooters - how do you justify less profit?

It requires someone you trust. Mine is my wife, though it was supposed to be the other way around. Last night I met a photographer's 2nd shooter, and will be talking to him about helping out on a few dates next year. He usually gets $200 to second shoot for 10 hours (wow, I know), but is transitioning to being a solo shooter.

IF you're considering it, you don't offer it as an add-on. I find that doesn't usually work since clients don't see the value. Instead, find two or three people you rely on reguarly, and just raise your prices and put out a better product.

Here are the benefits I've seen:
more flexiblity to be in two places at once. One shoots establishing details/groom/family while the other stays with the bride, etc.
Quicker setup and movement: By myself, I need 15 minutes or so to setup a first look/speeches/first dance since I'll position two cameras fixed. With a 2nd, it's less of an issue. This is good since they don't always give us good notice before these events.
Knowing a 2nd camera will also be taken care of, reframed as needed, etc. instead of me having to shoot as if my camera is the only camera.
Cutaways of family during important moments.
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Old September 22nd, 2013, 09:35 AM   #7
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Re: Second shooters - how do you justify less profit?

I give my clients a demo of 1 shooter, and 2 shooter wedding day. I let them know the price difference.

They seem to always choose the 2 shooter.

I don't take a hit in the wallet. Rather, i take a hit in my editing time. I also feel that paying a qualified and trained shooter better, gives me way more confidence in a better product.
I get angles and slide shots that single shooter weddings don't offer.
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Old September 22nd, 2013, 09:49 AM   #8
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Re: Second shooters - how do you justify less profit?

Quote:
I get angles and slide shots that single shooter weddings don't offer.
That's just the part I am not able to sell, for example the vows, with a 2 shooter team one guy gets a medium wide of the groom and the other a close up of the bride while one shooter could operate a 3rd camera getting the parents reactions as well.

As a single shooter I just get a wide shot with bride and groom in one shot and if I"m lucky a unmanned camera pointed at the parents gets some reactions from them but from a wider distance.

This is an example they should clearly see the advantage of a 2 man team, not so much when using a extra slider shot at the back of the church, but when they hear the price difference to get the second shooter they always choose the single shot showing both of them, it shows the moment and that's ok for them, they always go for the cheapest option.
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Old September 22nd, 2013, 09:51 PM   #9
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Re: Second shooters - how do you justify less profit?

Hey Noa..That's okay also.

When the clients ask for single camera, i realize that budget comes before style. Therefore, I don't concern myself with what "I" think is better for them.
Plus, my edits cut through like knife on butter..
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Old September 23rd, 2013, 03:21 AM   #10
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Re: Second shooters - how do you justify less profit?

I've shot with my son for several years now and we instinctively know what we need to be doing. I trained him to think and see my way so when ever we walk in to a venue we're usually thinking along the same lines anyway.

He always shoots the rear camera and I always shoot the front/side cameras in a ceremony. We never need to worry about each other getting in the shots because we know how long each of us needs to get the shot and be in the position we need to be in. We have specific gestures and hand signals that communicate very well, as long as we can see each other of course.

In fact, I no longer think of him as a second, but more of an alternate first. We both have our strengths and weaknesses. He generally grabs the establishing shots while i set up the audio and unattended cameras. He's better with the slider than I am, but I'm better with the Jib and hand held.

Then, after the day is done we also share the editing, they he will typically colour and I will do audio. So it's not a first/second shooter situation, it's really more of a partnership.

The sad thing is that too many brides are wanting "cheap" rather than "good" so we've been steadily steering more towards corporate than weddings because supporting two of us is getting harder on weddings alone.
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Old September 23rd, 2013, 06:27 AM   #11
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Re: Second shooters - how do you justify less profit?

My wife and I run our business together and she is a very competent videographer and editor. She also attends all the wedding shows with me, as Brides seem to like to talk to another female.

If we have two wedding enquiries for the same day, we are both able to take on a solo wedding with a pair of cameras. If it is a joint video and photo package, I can work solo, but my wife can't do both solo so we only take on one joint package. If there is only one booking on the day of the joint package, then my wife would take the main video camera whilst I take a second video camera for the ceremony and speeches, but concentrate more on the stills.

It's a setup that works well, enabling us to cover various combinations of bookings and hopefully maximising the income as it is all coming into the same household.

Roger
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Old September 23rd, 2013, 06:44 AM   #12
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Re: Second shooters - how do you justify less profit?

Having the missus as a second shooter is probably the best scenario as long as she has the same passion as you. Mine has not ..no interest in stills or video and no interest in weddings. I took her to one many years ago and she said "Never again!"

Mu second shooter has already qualified in a degree for film and television which to me is neither here nor there as it seems to be more theory but she does have a good eye and can think ahead ..when the bouquets come out she is already arranging them so she usually covers everything I ask of her.

Going rates for 2nd shooters here are between $30 ph for a novice to $60 ph for someone decent so over a full wedding you are looking at putting an extra $600 at least on your price to cover costs which can quite easily push you out of the bride's budget range.

Chris
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Old September 23rd, 2013, 11:39 AM   #13
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Re: Second shooters - how do you justify less profit?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Harding View Post
If you are going to pay $500 for an assistant for the day, doesn't it make normal business sense to add at least $500 to your prices?? (unless it's your wife of course)
"unless it's your wife" ... ... ... ... Just going to let that seep in for a second.

Moving on. Use a second shooter when you need a second shooter. For some shows that I do, it is impossible to get the angles and dynamic motion that you need if you do not have a second shooter (or a third). For other shows, I could work alone, but having an assistant saves me time and stress.

If the shoot NEEDS another shooter, charge for it. If it is mostly for your benefit and not essential, then it may not be as appropriate to bill it as a line item. Mostly, I work alone, but getting basic help when needed should be built-in to your costs, and you can write it off on your taxes at the end of the year.
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Old September 23rd, 2013, 04:26 PM   #14
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Re: Second shooters - how do you justify less profit?

I started with a second shooter after about 2 years solo and have never looked back. I did it initially because by chance I ran into someone who was interested in helping. He was a young film school guy who was very skilled and who also shot with the same gear that I use. After a couple of shoots together we were totally synced. Having the second shooter boosted the quality of my product and in turn allowed me to gradually increase my fees well above the cost of the second shooter. Not to mention the reduced stress of having someone else to rely on during the crazy parts of the day. I think the key though is finding a reliable and skilled resource. I can imagine that if you were trying to train a less experienced person it could be more of a detriment at least in the short term until they got up to speed.

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Old September 25th, 2013, 05:32 AM   #15
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Re: Second shooters - how do you justify less profit?

There are circumstances where a second or even third shooter is necessary for proper coverage e.g. large Jewish or Asian wedding. It's certainly nice to have a second shooter where you are going to have real time multi-camera coverage e.g. during service, speeches, first dance but not obligatory. You need a second shooter where action is going on in two places at once which usually means the. bride & groom getting ready but the other week I shot with a colleague where the couple left the church by horse & carriage then went off to a heliport & arrived at the reception venue by helicopter. While my colleague went to the heliport & attached GoPros in the helicopter I went straight to the venue to be in place to grab shots of the helicopter arriving & the surprised guests.
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