What is an Assistant Shooter?

Written by 90 Seconds
Last updated: October 4, 2023
What is an Assistant Shooter?

An assistant shooter is a backup to the main or lead shooter in a production, or at an event. The goal of an assistant shooter is to provide images from angles that the lead photographer can’t reach.

The job of a second photographer is different from that of a lead, although skill level is likely to be similar. Many photographers will assist other photographers, only to have the roles reversed at another event.

An assistant shooter will need to have quality camera gear, flashes to properly light the images, and have the skills necessary to step in as the lead at any moment.

An assistant shooter is the second line of defense if the main photographer has gear problems, gets hurt, or needs a quick break.

An assistant shooter will provide all forms of assistance to the main photographer to ensure that each and every image that needs to be captured is. It’s one way to learn the flow of events and video production without having to be in charge.

Primary roles

Capture complementary images

The assistant shooter must get the images the lead photographer can’t capture. For example, if the lead shooter of a wedding is focusing on the bride as she walks down the aisle, the assistant shooter must be focused on the groom and their reactions.

This is the most important role of being a second shooter, capturing images that complement those the lead photographer is taking.

In addition, the assistant shooter must be focused on staying out of the line of site of the lead photographer. While both photographers should be mindful of one another, the position of the lead is the most important throughout the event.

Secondary roles

The job is never done

A good assistant shooter understands that their job is never done until the production or event ends.

When there aren’t any images to capture, the assistant shooter might be responsible for downloading images to a hard drive, replacing batteries in equipment, and making sure that all equipment is accounted for.

The assistant shooter will often take pictures of the details of the event, and it’s a position that allows for more creativity than the role of the main shooter.

The assistant shooter often has some time to set up shots, and think about ways to create more interesting images.

While the main shooter is busy, the assistant shooter may also be called upon to simply help the lead shooter by holding equipment, flashes, or changing out lenses.