I have had the wonderful opportunity of second shooting over the past couple of years. It has grown to be a role that I love. Experience through trial and error, as well as some guiding from other photographers has really helped me grow in confidence as I help on wedding days.
I plan on posting a short series of posts on the components of being a great supporting photographer, AKA second shooter. This first post is less practical tips and more of an overview of the role of a second shooter. When I first started helping people shoot weddings, I did not know much about photography, especially wedding photography. One of the biggest things I have found is that it is really important to know the proper etiquette of photography.
The second shooter role is a support role:
As photographers, we love getting "those" pictures! We see a shot and want to get it and can sometimes forget our role or what's going on around us. I am so guilty of that! On wedding days, I have to constantly remind myself of my role. That role is to make sure that I set up the main photographer with as many opportunities as possible to capture beautiful images. This often means setting my camera down and "zooming out" to the big picture.
What does "zooming out" look like?
Things to look for to help the main photographer capture beautiful images:
- Dress fluffing 101 - Always check the bride's dress to make sure it looks picture-ready. This also can include bridesmaids' dresses.
2. The hair, makeup, and bouquet police - What can separate good from great images are the details! Hair gets blown in the wind, tears can cause makeup to run, and bouquets have a funny way of never being level. Keeping an eye on these details is so important because it means that the main photographer doesn't have to worry about them, and they can make a big difference in the quality of an image!
3. Keep an eye on the family - Wedding days can be very emotional days for more than just the bride and the groom. It's a big day for their loved ones also! I really like to be an advocate not only for the bride and groom on wedding days but also for the family. I always try to communicate with the bride and groom to make sure that I am aware of any possible tensions, and to make sure I know their preferences about bridal party placement, family photos and poses. Likewise, I try to keep an eye on the mother of the bride, maid/matron of honor and any other special guests to make sure they are feeling cared for and involved in the day. Sometimes tensions can be dispersed simply by observing family and creating opportunities for involvement.
4. Posing - Every couple thrives differently in photos. Some people are natural with posing themselves, but others need a little guidance. Learning the main photographer's posing style is very helpful, but also watching the couple interact for natural poses can help give ideas. As a second shooter, make it your goal to help the bride and groom, as well as bridal party, with poses. This is a huge time saver for the main photographer, allowing more opportunities for a variety of images!
5. Family pictures - Most likely the photographer you are assisting will have appointed someone in the family to call out family pictures or they will let you know that it is your role. It is very important that on the wedding day, you set down your camera and make sure that you are on top of calling out family members for photos, preparing the next shot for the photographer while the current one is being taken, and making sure that everyone the bride has indicated they want photographed is included. This is a big job, but your ability to effectively move through the list makes the whole experience flow better for the photographer, the bride and groom and their family. This is often an area where family can feel most loved on the wedding day, so it is important that you communicate care about their being included in the photos.
6. Watch the time - Wear a watch! Some photographers may not prefer this, but it is always good to have a time keeper. As you likely know, wedding days run on a schedule and as a photographer, we depend on it to make sure we capture as much as possible. It is great to keep the schedule in your back pocket, so you can periodically give the photographer and bridal party time-checks! Being the time keeper means being persistent and speaking up, but it tends to make the wedding day less stressful!
Being a second shooter is such an honor! The photographer who hired you is trusting you to help support their business! Remember that you are representing them and their business. Not only that, but you are helping capture a very important day in two people's lives.
I hope these reminders have been helpful. I look forward to writing the next blog on practical tips such as packing for the day as well as placing yourself strategically on the wedding day!