Whether you're planning a fast-paced multi-camera shoot, or planning to hire a 2nd photographer for the first time - here are some important considerations.
You will NEED to create a simple written contract if you're hiring a 2nd shooter. It will save you headaches, fights, and legal trouble down the road. There really is NO need for conflict here, and when things do go south it is ALWAYS due to unclear expectations.
Here are the basics to cover in your agreement:
- Can your 2nd use the images for profit?
- My answer is almost always NO. Technically, they could approach your customer and undercut you.
- Can your 2nd use the images for self-promotion
- I vary on this... IF the answer is yes, make sure you 1) inform the client and 2) set a drop date so you can be sure to publish your paid work before they post
- If the answer is NO, I recommend insisting on them ONLY using your storage media (SD cards, CF Cards, Etc.) to be collected at the end of the assignment. This does two things: prevents them from being tempted to break the agreement, and keeps you from waiting around for files to copy (or be sent later)
- How/When payment for services will be transacted
- Who's gear will be used
- Dress code expectations
- Location, Date, Arrival time
Next, Let's talk about Data Management.
I use Lightroom and Photoshop to process my images. I like to keep my RAW files on an external drive and work from Smart-Previews while editing in LR. The first thing I do when I'm transferring my images from the media cards, is to create a folder with the Date of the event in the Year-Month-Date format 20XX_03_22 inside that folder I have the following folders: Album, Contract/Docs, JPGs, Presentation Materials, and RAW files. I will simply Copy and Paste the image folders from the media cards into the "RAW Files" Folder. Once the transfer is complete, I might rename the folders to something easily recognizable (instead of "DCIM_100" - "2nd Shooter Main Body")
Next step is importing the files to LR, You probably already know how to do this, but simply click import in the bottom left, then Navigate to the Folder Called "RAW Files" under the source menu (make sure Include Subfolders is Checked). Select "Add" at the top of the screen. Check the box that says "Build Smart Previews" under File Handling on the right side. Then click "Import" on the bottom right. This takes a while if you have a large number of photos, so set a timer for 5-10 minutes and stretch your legs.
There are two things that will help you tremendously when working with multiple cameras on the same event. First is chronology, 90% of the time it just makes sense to let the pictures you captured stay in chronological (time) order. If your camera's digital clocks aren't perfectly synced with each other this can create a headache, sadly, it's easy to forget to do this simple step at the beginning of the event, and if it's done manually - it still might not be 100% accurate.
My method for getting accurate time calibration is to open a digital clock with millisecond on my phone, setting all cameras being used to the highest motor-drive (AKA rapid-fire, or burst-mode) setting. And taking 10-15 frames of the clock. (be sure to zoom in and make sure your shutter speed is high enough). When you're back in lightroom, you can filter down to one camera at a time using the Metadata button - under "Library Filter" in the Library mode. Find your series of clock-images and choose the one where the milliseconds land closest to zero. Next press "CMD+A" on your keyboard to select all images that were taken by that 1 specific camera, click on "Metadata" in the file bar at the very top of your screen, then click "Edit Capture Time..." This will bring up the picture of the clock that you selected, chose the 1st option "Adjust to a specified date and time" then type in EXACTLY what the clock in the selected image read into the "Corrected Time" field. Click "Change All". Repeat this for each camera. Remove your Metadata filter in the Library Filter section and you will once again see all of your camera's images, but this time in perfect chronological order!
The Second thing that will help is Color accuracy. There are four levels of accuracy you can pursue.
1 - Shoot however you normally would and adjust all the colors by "eyeballing" what looks best to you
2 - Shoot a Graycard at the same time under the same light with all the cameras being used to establish a baseline of how different their colors are, you can use the eyedropper tool in LR to get a numerical value of how far apart the camera's color and tint are. Then apply the math as you edit images taken in the same light by different cameras
3 - Shoot a Graycard with every camera every time you change lighting conditions. You can use this to set a custom white balance in your camera, or assuming you are shooting in RAW, just use the eyedropper to sync your colors in LR after the fact.
4 - Use a ColorChecker Passport to create a custom color profile for each camera and lens combination that will be used. I'm not sponsored, but this is definitely my preferred method for paid work. Simply take a RAW image of the Color-Tiles and run the software plug-in in LR, generate a color profile that takes into account the hue, saturation, and luminosity, of EVERY color channel. Then you can apply that profile to the images under the Develop Module of LR in the "Profile" drop-down. This will make your colors match across very different systems, and is the best option especially when working with others who use very different brands of equipment.
I have used this method to make Canon, Nikon, & Sony Cameras' images look indistinguishable at the same wedding. Continuity is a good thing for our clients!
Finally, Be certain to look at your 2nd shooter's images closely when you start, you never know what you might catch and be able to prevent for the remainder of the event. I recommend checking the first 15 images or so, then setting a timer for 30 minutes to do another quick check. One thing you might not have considered is sensor dust, not everyone is great about their lens-change technique, or regularly cleans off their image sensor... I'm not about to start wiping someone else's sensor, but I do carry a rocket blower to quickly and safely help with these types of situations!
Good luck, happy shooting!