When I started writing out all the tips and advice I could think of when it comes to 2nd shooting, I was floored with how my post just kept going and going and going. So, if you missed the first part, you can catch that here!
And off we go on more tips and advice for 2nd shooting weddings:
Assist, assist, assist, and offer to assist more
Even though you may be 2nd shooting, you are also the main photographer’s assistant. Be willing to do ANYTHING the main photographer asks you to do, and make sure the main photographer knows you are willing! I have done everything from running back to a previous location to grab a forgotten item, running to the store to buy something that was immediately needed, grabbing a drink for the photographer, finding our meals at dinner time, and the list goes on and on and on.
When I shot with Lauryn last year, she was pregnant for a good chunk of the weddings we shot together, and I saw it as my job to help take care of her.Making sure she was drinking enough water, that she had food when she needed it, that she wasn’t picking up her heavy camera bag, etc. She was my friend, so I wanted to help, but I was also her assistant, and I needed to help.
Sometimes you’ll be asked to do something during portrait time or another crucial picture taking time. Even though you might be bummed to miss out on shooting, remember the main point…you are not there for your own portfolio! If the main photographer needs something, don’t hesitate to help out.
Look for things the main photographer doesn’t have time to
Often times (especially on days with crunched timelines), the main photographer is going for specific shots, and may not have time to capture the bridesmaid holding her bouquet, the pretty doorknobs or decor of the building, or the flower girls mesmerized by the fountain. Watch for these things, and capture them!
Cocktail Hour & Family Formals
I’m going to be honest here, shooting cocktail hour is my least favorite time of the wedding day. I have a knack for capturing people with strange face contortions as they’re talking, or just as they’re taking a bite of their food, or just capturing their backs. I don’t like to interrupt conversations, so I try to stay inconspicuous, but often as a 2nd shooter, you’ll be asked to photograph cocktail hour! I remember Lauryn told me once that she saw cocktail hour as a challenge to learn and once I adopted that attitude, it made it easier. I still don’t love it, but it’s easier.
And then there is family formals! Often times, the 2nd shooter will be given the list of family shots, and will be responsible for corralling the right groups of people, while the main shooter sets them up and photographs them. I rarely photograph during family formal time when I’m 2nd shooting! I’m mainly there to help the process run as quickly and smoothly as possible.
Honor and respect the main photographer as the main photographer
Every photographer will have different expectations of their 2nd shooters, and every photographer will pay differently. Some will pay a higher rate, but have you shoot on their cards and you won’t be allowed to use them on your blog or in your portfolio. Some will pay you and allow you to shoot on your cards and use them on your blog, but not in your portfolio. Others will pay you and allow you to use the images on your blog in your portfolio. Always know where and how you can use the images before you do anything with them!! One thing that has been consistent with all 2nd shooting opportunities is that you cannot use the images on FB, which is totally understandable! But if you blog the images, ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS link to, mention, and love on the main photographer!! Don’t try to put a wedding off as your own. Let it be known you 2nd shot with so-and-so, and ALWAYS link to their blog post. My general rule of thumb when I was blogging weddings I 2nd shot, was to blog at least 2 weeks after the main photographer blogged. It was never requested, but to me, it just made sense. This was just a personal decision, but I felt like it was the courteous thing to do.
For my 2nd shooters, I allow them to use the images on their blog and in their portfolio, as long as they link their blog post to mine. I was very blessed to be able to use so many of the images I 2nd shot in my portfolio and on my blog early on, and I love to be able to pass that along to my 2nd shooters!
Wear a watch!
Timelines on wedding days are always fast paced and crunched, and it’s easy to get caught up in shooting that you lose track of the time. I love to wear a watch as a main photographer (so much easier and more professional than glancing down at your wrist than hunting through your bag for your phone!), but sometimes I forget to grab it, and it’s always such a blessing when my 2nd has one! So, on top of wearing a watch, this really boils down to helping the photographer keep track of the time and timeline for the day.
Shooting the men
Some timelines just don’t allow for separate shooting time for the guys and the girls getting ready, and as a 2nd shooter, you will often be asked to photograph the guys getting ready. The first few times I did this, I was so intimidated! But you know what? Guys can be fun.And the images you need (the groom putting on his tie, his shoes, his jacket) are really quick and easy to grab. Always try to grab some of the guys just hanging out, whether they’re sitting around chatting, drinking, or playing beer-pong.
Obviously there is a time and a place for this one (asking questions in the middle of the photographer explaining a pose is not an ideal time), but truly, if you have questions, ask them! The vast majority of photographers will be more than willing to answer them. There is almost always a little downtime with just the 2 of you (whether before the ceremony, during dinner, during a lull in dancing, etc.), and ask! If there’s something that they did during posing that intrigued you, ask! If you want to know why they chose a certain lens, ask! If you are completely baffled by OCF, and they seem knowledgeable, ask! But gauge their level of interest and response before continuing rattling off questions.Don’t annoy them, but don’t hesitate to ask about something when the time is appropriate.
Don’t copy or imitate the photographer
One of the reasons that I love shooting with a variety of photographers is observing their different styles and their approaches to the wedding day! I saw certain things that I loved, and certain things that worked for them but that wouldn’t work for me. I was able to take some of the things that I loved, mold them and massage them, and apply them to my business or my shooting style…but I made them work for me and my business. Don’t do something just because someone else is doing it…figure out why you love it and why you want to do it, and how you can make it reflect you and your business.
Keep an arsenal of poses in your head
The first few times I 2nd shot, I was terrified that the photographer would turn to me in the middle of portrait time and have me pose the couple (ha, silly me!). I would have been completely baffled, so I started to try to keep a pose idea or 2 in my head, just in case. It’s only happened a couple of times (either when a photographer is switching a lens or card, or just needs another idea), but be ready if the photographer asks you to keep shooting/posing while they grab something! (Ashley grabbed this one while I was getting the white umbrella for the bride and groom, and I love it!)
Be friendly, but remember you are there to assist
Your job as a 2nd shooter is to be friendly with the bridal party, the bride, the groom, and the guests…but remember whose business you are there with! If someone happens to ask for your card, NEVER, EVER, EVER give your card out as a 2nd shooter. If someone asks, tell them you will grab one from the main photographer for them, and do it. You are NOT there to promote your business, but rather to support the business of the main photographer.
Do your absolute best
I know this one seems like a given, but it’s true! Sometimes 2nd shooting can get arduous, long, and yes, even boring. Be positive! If you are in hour 4 of a 6 hour long dance party, your feet are killing you, you haven’t eaten all day, and you’re exhausted, know that the main photographer probably feels the same way…but don’t gripe about it! Do your best with your shooting, honor the photographer’s wishes, respect the photographer’s business, and keep a positive attitude!! One of the things I noticed in my early times of 2nd shooting, was that my name got passed around a network of photographers. People I had shot with recommended me to their friends who were looking for a 2nd shooter, and I was honored! I know that my shots were not right on technically, I knew that I didn’t have the best equipment, but I knew that I worked incredibly hard, was willing to do anything the main photographer needed, and tried my hardest to keep a positive attitude at all times throughout the day…and it was extremely beneficial!!
Want a piece of cake? Follow the main photographer’s lead.
This one is just for fun, because I love the dessert table at weddings (and I’m sure with Spark along this year, I will love it even more). Haha. If a wedding has a candy bar with sour patch kids? Yah, I can’t avoid that one. Cupcakes? You better believe I can’t take my eyes off of those all during the reception.When you’re the photographer, you can’t just go up and help yourself to dessert along with guests. Most of my couples have, at some point, told me to grab a piece of cake or a thing of ice cream (Will & Jenny’s ice cream favors are one of my absolute favorites, and when they insisted I have one? Well, I just loved them even more. :-). However, as the 2nd shooter, follow the main photographer’s lead in this. If the photographer skips the candy bar, you should too. If the photographer skips the cake, you should too. If the photographer grabs a piece? By all means, eat one too.
*Disclaimer: It is the appropriate thing to do to ask the wedding planner, bride’s parents, or other responsible parties before grabbing a piece. Although 99.9999% of the time your request will be met with an “Absolutely!!”, you should always ask before assuming.*
Whew, that’s a lot huh? If you have ANY questions or other tips or advice I missed, feel free to leave a comment below or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!