Changing from a Reactive to Proactive 2nd Shooter


A few days ago, JD and I spoke about how things have changed. In life. In the business. In my shoe collection. When we thought back to specifics, it was a perfect way to measure growth and mistakes. Oh, like that pair white wedges I bought out of impulse. Do I need to repeat the white part again? Because, really, they’re as tragic as they sound. JD–the normal person in this duo–spoke about his role as a second shooter. If you’ll remember, he posted a Top Ten List of Tips for Second Shooters in 2009, but much has changed for him since then. Besides having to walk next to me while I wore white wedge heels (oh! the! embarrassment!), his approach and vision has changed when it comes to photographing a wedding.

As JD recounted the differences, I asked him if he’d be willing to list a few of them in a blog post. Lucky for me, he agreed, so this post is like an addendum to his previous tips. And, yes, I fully realize how lucky I am to have such an incredibly handsome extremely competent photographer at my side. Rawr.

One of the biggest things that’s changed for JD is his desire to be proactive (acting in anticipation to my needs) instead of reactive (responding to my requests), but I’ll let JD get more into this by using examples…

From JD:
It’s crazy to think back to my very first wedding as a second shooter as I enter my fifth wedding season with Jasmine. Time has definitely flown by, but throughout the last four years as a second shooter, my approach to a wedding day has evolved for the better and I thought I would share the pivotal parts of my evolution.

The number one thing that has impacted my approach to a wedding day is learning to be proactive instead of reactive. During my first two years I would find myself doing things in reaction to what was going on throughout the day. My job was to shoot the groomsmen as they got ready and I would do just that. If asked to shoot cocktail hour, I would do just that, shoot cocktail hour. But now, instead of only doing things I’m asked to do, I’m finding ways to diversify the wedding portfolio as well as doing things that will benefit the main shooter at a later point in the day. In order to explain my thoughts further, here are five tips to being a proactive second photographer on a wedding day.

1. Photographing ceremony location and ceremony details, while first shooter is photographing family portraits.
I always found myself gathering members for family portraits, and after, would stand and watch Jasmine shoot the 10-20 different variations of the family. Now, after gathering the family, I use that valuable time to photograph candid moments in between the formals and then quickly walk to the ceremony site and shoot detail photos before guests arrive. I know Jasmine needs an overview photo of the ceremony site as well as detail photos of undisturbed chairs, programs, and floral decor, so I get a jump start before she arrives.

2. Photographing groomsmen individually, and collectively, with the groom.
Shooting the groomsmen hanging out and getting dressed is always on my to-do list when I first arrive. Once the groom and groomsmen are dressed, I continue shooting the groomsmen while waiting for the bridesmaids to get ready. Most of the time, I shoot photojournalistically (candid moments), but there are times (especially when the wedding schedule is packed tightly), when I’ll ask the groom to pose with each groomsmen. This saves Jasmine time so she doesn’t have to take these photos later in the day, when time is stretched and precious. Yes, I just said precious.

3. Reception photos.
Once inside the reception site, we don’t have very much time to photograph the room before guests arrive. I make it a point to look for the table best illuminated (be it with natural light or pin light) for the first shooter. From there I begin to move the less desirable items from a table (i.e. salt/pepper, butter, water/iced tea pitchers). This saves the first shooter valuable time and allows us to focus solely on table details.

4. Assessing lighting situations in advance for first shooter
Finding ways to compliment ambient lighting in advance is always helpful. As a second photographer, it’s common to carry around a lot more equipment than the first shooter. I make it a point to always carry a variety of lights in case I need to set up artificial lighting to enhance photos for the first photographer at a moment’s notice. When time is of the essence, and I pop out pin lighting in a pinch, Jasmine looks at me like I’m a Knight In Shining Armor. It’s one of the job perks!

5. Creating a mental checklist of all detail photos and going over each look with first shooter.
In a sea of details throughout a wedding day, it’s easy to forget one or two detail photos. Making a mental checklist of certain photos (did you photograph the rings? The ring bearer’s pillow? That picture of Uncle Tom and Aunt Susie that the bride’s mom asked for?) and discussing it with the first photographer during dinner is a great way to tie up any loose ends that might have been overlooked.

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  1. Jenelle Sewell

    March 3rd, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    I can’t wait to get my hubs to start second shooting! The countdown begins….

  2. Ernie E

    March 3rd, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    Excellent 2nd shooter pointers! #3-5 I’ve never considered but I’ll definitely consider now.

  3. Salonee

    March 3rd, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    Wow! This is a great post about practical, anticipatory, and as you very correctly put it, proactive second shooting. And I’m going to put in practice pretty much everything you mentioned here. Cheers!

  4. Columbus GA Photographer

    March 3rd, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    Really great post!! I’m not a second shooter but this list definitely helps and will be a great go to when I bring a 2nd photographer on for a wedding. Thanks JD and Jasmine!

  5. Terri Keefer

    March 3rd, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    Thanks for the post Jasmine and JD! I know you guys shoot in RAW on the wedding day. Are you shooting in the largest RAW format or the medium? I would like to shoot in the medium, but in the event the bride may want a larger wall portrait later, I’m afraid to shoot too small. The size issue for me is not anything more than it takes a million years for Lightroom 3 to upload the largest files. I shoot with the 5D Mark II. Keep up the awesome work you two!

  6. Tanya De Leeuw

    March 3rd, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    Thanks, JD! I just read the original article, as well as this one! Great tips to bear in mind as I head into my first assistant job at a wedding in September!

  7. mike

    March 3rd, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    precious. too funny. How time flies, I read JD original post when it was posted back in 2009… 2009?!?!?! I swear that was only a few months ago, like late summer early fall. 2009. Really? I love reading your blog (and JD’s too!). Oh how I wish I could talk Mrs. Reed into 2nd shooting with me.

  8. Rich Park

    March 3rd, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    these are awesome tips! thank you both for sharing!

  9. alison

    March 3rd, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    Thanks for the great advice JD! My husband keeps telling me that he wants to be my "JD" – I think that would be fabulous, I just need to book more weddings!! 🙂

  10. Em

    March 3rd, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    Thanks guys! This was an awesome post and will definitely be helpful for the upcoming season!


    March 3rd, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    So grateful for this!! Couldn’t come at a better time as I step into a second shooter role come April!!

  12. Gail

    March 3rd, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    JD, these tips for second shooters are AWESOME! Since it sounds like you’re a pro at this now, I think you should spend your free time cloning yourself so those of us on the hunt for awesome second shooters can "borrow" ya 🙂

  13. Salwa

    March 3rd, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    Fantastic tips, JD! I am focusing on second-shooting this season before making a push to take on mostly weddings where I’m the primary, so this is a very timely post for me. 🙂 I know every primary wants different things from their second shooter, but these are some great ways to be proactive. Thanks for sharing!

  14. Gaby Fuentes Photography

    March 3rd, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    Great post JD. I already emailed this post to my second shooter.

  15. Lisa Otto

    March 3rd, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    Perfect! Still giggling at the fact you said precious…but none the less perfect 😉 lol

  16. Katie

    March 3rd, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    As a second shooter, your tips will definitely be helpful. Thanks for sharing!

  17. Peter hearl Photography

    March 3rd, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    Some Great tips JD. I don’t shoot weddings with a second shooter, it can be difficult sometimes.

  18. Faith Cherisse

    March 3rd, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    Thank you guys! You are such a dynamic Duo!! xoxo

  19. Joe+Kathrina

    March 3rd, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    Precious 😉 Thanks for the tips JD–keep shining that armor for Jasmine!

  20. feuza

    March 3rd, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    such great tips and so true!

  21. Janet Kwan

    March 3rd, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    Perfect timing, guys! I’m second-shooting a wedding this Saturday so this totally helps me get in the zone! Thank you!

  22. kelsey

    March 3rd, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    great tips going to send this post to my second shooters 🙂 TFS!

  23. Megan

    March 3rd, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    JD your awesome. I so wish my hubby would be as willing to second shoot as you were. Jasmine and JD make a remarkable team.

  24. Kare

    March 3rd, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    Great list, JD!

  25. Stefanie

    March 3rd, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    Great list JD!

  26. JennP

    March 3rd, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    What a great partnership you and JD have, both professionally and personally. God is blessing you two! Can’t wait to see what awesomeness you’ll produce this coming wedding season… and I’m not even a professional photographer! ❤

  27. Sarah Danaher

    March 3rd, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    soooooo good! thanks, jd!

  28. Vickie

    March 3rd, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    This is a great article. Lots of helpful information to file away for when I need it. You guys are funny 🙂 Jasmine and the white wedges :):)

  29. Center Point Photography

    March 3rd, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    Super encouraging. We are also a husband/wife duo and it can sometimes get a little tough. Thanks for the encouragement!

  30. anda

    March 3rd, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    wow — jd, you are AMAZING. i think i will post this list on my blog as the qualifications in a job posting for a 2nd shooter, haha. so glad jasmine has you!

  31. Joanne thomas

    March 3rd, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    Good things to know. Everyone should be so blessed to work with their spouse in the way you and Jaz work together, a rarity.

  32. Samantha Foster

    March 3rd, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    I am so thankful JD wrote this! I’m pregnant and about to have to drop our of my role as 2nd shooter for a little bit and need to train and bring in someone to do what I do and it has been hard a) finding someone
    b) explaining the role
    Very excited to see what is to come.
    P.S. Jamie Delaney’s blog is on 2nd shooting as well. Weird and Great timing for me!

  33. Whitney

    March 3rd, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    Such a great team, in life and on the job…hopefully Jack and I will find the same rhythm in our work:) xoxo

  34. Alejandra - Imaginale

    March 3rd, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    Ahhhh, I love this 🙂 I feel like this speaks a lot about marriage too. I won’t get into all the deep stuff, but I definitely see how God has blessed the two of you. UH-MA-ZING insight by JD 🙂

  35. Rachel C.

    March 3rd, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    This was REALLY helpful. Thanks Jasmine and JD!

  36. Orlando Wedding Videographer

    March 3rd, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    Very useful tips, I had no idea I was re-active and now I’m gonna try to take some steps to change…

  37. Isaac Stott

    March 3rd, 2011 at 5:10 pm

    Thank you so much JD for sharing. As a husband and a second shooter myself, this couldn’t be more helpful in giving Karen and our business the best product possible!

  38. Kali Norton

    March 3rd, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    Great tips, some of which I didn’t realize were things the second shooter took initiative to do. Your blog posts are so informative they make me feel like I really did go to photography school.

  39. Lyn Ismael-Bennett

    March 3rd, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    Great tips! Thank you for sharing 🙂

  40. Abbey

    March 3rd, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    Thank you JD for the valuable tips. They will definitely come in handy for this coming wedding season. You guys are awesome.

  41. JP Sevillano

    March 3rd, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    JD’s tips are simple yet efficient and so ‘proactive’. 🙂

    Perfect timing – Thanks u guys!!

  42. Sandy Adams

    March 3rd, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    Thanks for the insight! Love both of you 🙂

  43. Roger

    March 3rd, 2011 at 6:30 pm

    Watching the CL session gave us a glimpse on what happens on the big day. Having even more insight is definitely helpful.

  44. Maryorse

    March 3rd, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    Great information! Thank you for sharing. You have a great partner. 🙂

  45. Kristin Nicole

    March 3rd, 2011 at 6:42 pm

    Great tips!

  46. Emily Dobson

    March 3rd, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    This is a really good post, JD! All very pratical and applicable tips we can learn from. Thanks for sharing!

  47. Evonne & Darren

    March 3rd, 2011 at 6:57 pm

    Thank you both for sharing! It’s definitely helpful when we’re also a husband and wife team. We love you!

  48. Faith

    March 3rd, 2011 at 7:15 pm

    Wow this post is awesome! Bula! (hello) from Fiji, I am a second shooter and I cannot wait to be more proactive rather than reactive!Thanks Jasmine and JD.

  49. Kathleen Frank

    March 3rd, 2011 at 7:27 pm

    Yay for a JD post! Thank you! Such a helpful list. I would like to try second (or third!) shooting soon, and I am seriously nervous about it. These insights make me feel much more prepared 🙂

  50. Elizabeth at Seaport Photo

    March 3rd, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    Thank you, JD!

  51. alicia schneider

    March 3rd, 2011 at 7:58 pm

    Awesome! Thank you so much for this! My hubby is gearing up to assist me at his first wedding and this information will be so valuble to give to him! thanks JD! 😉

  52. Brian Kraft

    March 3rd, 2011 at 8:01 pm

    Thanks, great tips!

  53. Jessica Chavez

    March 3rd, 2011 at 8:30 pm

    You guys are just awesome!! Thanks for sharing this tips with us! It’s amazing how you’ve grown together!!

  54. Chris Massie

    March 3rd, 2011 at 9:56 pm

    Thanks, JD, for the refresher as we gear up for wedding season. May you and Jasmine have a successful year!

  55. Shilpy

    March 3rd, 2011 at 10:12 pm


  56. christina {simply modern}

    March 3rd, 2011 at 10:14 pm

    great post j*! oh, i also have a pair of white wedges i bought on impulse…now i think why?

  57. desiree

    March 3rd, 2011 at 10:56 pm

    this is a great post from JD’s view! i love the idea of being proactive rather than reactive! you guys really are a perfect team!

  58. Norman

    March 3rd, 2011 at 11:30 pm

    Thank you and JD for posting this! As a second shooter myself, it’s nice to hear tips/ methods from a pro.

  59. Brittani Gonzalez

    March 3rd, 2011 at 11:30 pm

    Great post, and just in time!! I second shoot my first wedding a week from Saturday!! =) Thanks Jd. &heart;s

  60. Yuliya

    March 3rd, 2011 at 11:53 pm

    Thank you guys so much for being open and honest. JD your tips are awesome and challenge me to be a better photographer

  61. Mikaela + Shane

    March 4th, 2011 at 12:08 am

    Yay JD! Thanks so much for sharing more insight with us. Super helpful for both main and second shooters alike 🙂

  62. Maria

    March 4th, 2011 at 2:49 am

    Loved this post. I just forwarded it to my hubby, who happens to also be my second-shooter! He looks up to JD and I know he’ll get so much out of it. Thanks for sharing!! Air Kisses 😉

  63. Erica Velasco

    March 4th, 2011 at 3:37 am

    Great post!

  64. Christina Hastings

    March 4th, 2011 at 3:45 am

    Those were wonderful tips! Very helpful to see them laid out in a concise manner.

  65. keren macklin

    March 4th, 2011 at 4:18 am

    Thank you this was very helpful information and your work shows your attention to detail.

  66. Lydia

    March 4th, 2011 at 5:13 am

    You’re awesome, JD! Thanks!

  67. daria bishop

    March 4th, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    J.D.~ Haha…i love that you said *precious*
    Great post!! 🙂

  68. Chelsea

    March 4th, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    JD, I loved getting to visit with you after Jasmine’s talk at WPPI. I told my husband about how you got started and he’s been a lot more interested in the idea of shooting with me. Thanks for your time and words! And I’d love to hear more from you on Jasmine’s blog, you’re a great writer as well!

  69. Brooke{BrookeB Photography}

    March 4th, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    I am 2nd shooting my first wedding next month! These tips are PERFECT! Thanks for the amazing insight!

  70. Kathleen

    March 4th, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    Thanks for the tips, JD! I am so excited to direct my future second shooters to this post.

  71. michelle gunton

    March 4th, 2011 at 6:50 pm

    cant wait to share this with my 2nd photographer, thank you.

  72. Jayme

    March 4th, 2011 at 9:12 pm

    I can’t wait to share these tips with my second shooter! I am very blessed to have my very own incredibly handsome "JD" by my side as well 🙂

  73. Jodi

    March 4th, 2011 at 9:18 pm

    I love these ideas! I shoot with my husband, too, and its so nice when you have someone to work with that knows you so well they are always one step ahead of you!

  74. Ashley

    March 4th, 2011 at 10:50 pm

    JD! Your posts are the best! I’m gonna make J read this. Really good advice (: P.S. I missed seeing you at WPPI!

  75. Wedding Photographer New York

    March 5th, 2011 at 12:06 am

    Great post. I love your ideas. I admire your work.

  76. Ashley Kate

    March 5th, 2011 at 1:41 am

    Thanks so much for this JD! I’ll definitely use your tips to up my game as a second shooter =)

  77. cassandra-m

    March 5th, 2011 at 3:42 am

    awesome JD! such wonderful info. happy to see a post from you :))))))))

  78. Laura Leslie

    March 5th, 2011 at 5:12 am

    Thanks for sharing this! 🙂

  79. Jorge Tortajada

    March 5th, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    Thanks, great tips!

  80. Paula Franco

    March 5th, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    Thanks for sharing!! Great post!

  81. Ivana

    March 6th, 2011 at 7:24 am

    Awsome advice, i have only been hired as a permanent second shooter and i find its so much more easier to be proactive then to be standing around waiting for order’s!You two are such a great team…

  82. David Hartstein

    March 6th, 2011 at 11:40 pm

    These are all great points. I think all too often second shooters "play it safe" and sort of wait for directions. Being more proactive will definitely help get those unique and special shots to compliment the work of the first shooter. Thanks for the post!

  83. Emily Kicklighter Photography

    March 7th, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    Great article to send to my second shooters! Thanks!!

  84. amanda thiessen

    March 8th, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    such a great read! definitely great points!!

  85. Kimberly Kay

    March 9th, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    These are fantastic and valuable tips to put into practice. Thank you for sharing! ~K

  86. image masking

    March 10th, 2011 at 7:51 am

    excellent wedding photography! very nice job my friend!

  87. anthony quesada

    March 10th, 2011 at 8:25 am

    Way to go JD!
    Jasmine is so lucky to have you.


    March 11th, 2011 at 12:59 am

    I remember that post. I’m glad you have posted the revised list!

  89. Amanda Hagood

    March 12th, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    Great post! If I have to use a temp 2nd shooter then they usually ask me what I want, and I actually have a little checklist like this 🙂 Way to go JD, being proactive is awesome!

  90. Deidre

    March 15th, 2011 at 2:16 am

    Perfect list 🙂

  91. Danny Shum

    March 15th, 2011 at 11:24 pm

    JD, I think you are awesome! Thanks for the helpful tips. I just started reading Jasmine’s blog not this month, and I’m loving the fact that both of you are growing together.

  92. Jamela Robledo

    March 22nd, 2011 at 2:48 am

    Amazing blog post guys. Thanks for sharing!

  93. Jenna Danelle

    March 22nd, 2011 at 4:43 am

    I have found that I am now helping some of my photog friends when I have gaps in my own calendar to keep honing my skills and I thank you for all your great tips JD! It has really helped me to be a great support as a 2nd shooter, which is such a change of pace from when I’m primary in my own business!

  94. Samuel Burns

    March 23rd, 2011 at 2:14 am

    Interesting points, thanks for sharing

  95. DC Events Planner

    May 5th, 2011 at 12:56 am

    awesome great info this will help in future thanks.

  96. Charlotte Wedding Photographer

    May 10th, 2011 at 6:26 am

    I will have to have assistant wedding photographers read this post. As a wedding photographer in Charlotte NC I shoot a lot of weddings and have worked with a good amount of second shooters. As a wedding photographer with S L Media Productions I do not like to micro manage. I agree with JD points a second shooter should photograph what is asked but they also should be proactive by finding additional shots etc. This is a great post very informative.

  97. Adriana Morett

    July 7th, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    lol! precious… I’m sure J* knows how precious your work as a 2nd shooter is, and I’m totally making my hubby (and 2nd shooter) read this post! 😉 Thanks a LOT JD!