The value of a second shooter

embrace vintageI’m pretty self-sufficient, especially when it comes to photography. I know what I’m looking for in a shot and I know how to make it happen. I think that many of us photographers are like this, and therefore often overlook having a second shooter. I can grab my camera and get out shooting and I can do it fast, adding someone to the mix only slows me down. Additionally, it’s one more person that you have to keep your eye on, where are they standing? are they getting into my shot? are they casting a shadow? Adding a second shooter adds a variable and a liability to the shoot.

I would honestly say that for the past few years this has been my view of second shooters and therefore I have avoided the idea of having one. I can think of only one time that I had a second shooter and it was for a wedding in Russia. It was a great experience, but I don’t know that I fully appreciated the addition at the time. As I have grown and learned more I have always had the idea in my mind, just never ventured into that realm, always focusing on the liability aspect of it.

Recently though, I shot some engagement pictures for a couple and had access to a great photographer, my wife, and decided that it would be a great addition to have her as a second shooter. It was great. We talked through the shoot before hand and because she knows what she is doing I never had to worry about her, she knew where she needed to be and what she needed to be doing.

As I have been going through the pictures, and doing edits, I am now fully appreciating the addition. We have different shooting styles, different vision, and therefore we have different shots. I am able to piece together a great story through images with shots that I would never have gotten except for her. I am beginning to see the value of having a second shooter.

I don’t know why so many times in life I think that I can go at something alone, maybe that’s part of being a guy, but what I realize is that when I do something with someone it turns out so much better. Putting this to words feels a little weird because I am such a social person, I love being around people, so why would I try and do anything alone? I continue to work on the “I can do it best” mentality and am developing the “I’m going to train you to do it well” one.

The Process

Heritage Farm days farm festival
Life is full of processes, some we know about, others happen and we only see the products. In my life I have spent a lot of time learning about what is going on behind the scenes. I find the process for a particular event adds a uniqueness to its product and that many times we are moving through life so fast that we are missing out on the key factors that are making our lives what they are.

The reality is that most processes go unnoticed, we just breeze through life enjoying things without regard to how they were produced. Take for instance a car, how much work, creativity, design and production goes into a car that we will drive for thousands of miles? How often do we think about that?

Growing up I was always the analytical and inquisitive in the family (I get this from my dad), never satisfied with the simple answers when I knew there was something more. I would look at a bridge and study it to see how it was put together, or I would take apart a computer to learn about it’s configuration and components (I dissected a Commodore 64, luckily I got it put back together). I think this is what attracts me so much to photojournalism.

Photojournalism is all about the process. It’s about putting the pieces together to share with the viewer what you are seeing, to share about the how of something in order to relay what is happening.

I love Autumn, the colors of the trees are changing, the air is cooling, winter is coming and its American football season. Recently my wife and I drove over to Boone, NC for a fall festival and fair. It was such a great time. The mountain air was clean and crisp, the sun was shining and the people were warm and inviting. We had a great time.

While there we came across a woman who was making Apple Butter in a kettle. It was quite a long process from start to finish. I stood there watching for a minute, taking it all in, then started looking around and seeing what all went into making it. The process was extensive, washing and peeling the apples, cutting them, soaking them, then cooking them for several hours while constantly agitating them.

I am always looking out for what the process is behind something, for me that is where the true story is. In photography, especially in photojournalism, we must be looking beyond our subject to see what the process has been to create this moment, many times the process will be more of a story than the moment.