Top Ten Tips for Second Shooting

Photography

On our way to this past weekend’s wedding in San Diego, JD and I had a great opportunity to talk about anything and everything. I asked if he liked my trimmed bangs (yes)…what he wanted for lunch (pizza)…and who his favorite wife was (me). We then started talking about second photographers at weddings and the important role they play. I make no qualms admitting I have the best second shooter in the world (nay, the UNIVERSE), but he told me he often gets asked for advice for second shooting. I found this hilarious. He just stared blankly back at me. Apparently, he was serious. Over pizza in Mission Beach, I asked him what his Top Ten List for Second Shooters would be and I was impressed with his responses, so I decided to have him guest blog today. Holllllla!

Here’s his Top Ten list of advice for second shooters on a wedding day…just without the pepperoni falling off the slice and getting in our way of conversation…

10. Dress Appropriately
Don’t be afraid to ask the main photographer what to wear on the wedding day. Some weddings are casual, others more formal. The most important thing is to always be a reflection of the main photographer’s attire and blend in with guests as much as possible. I always dress according to the Three Piece Rule: Wearing a tie/jacket/pants or tie/vest/pants…and I guess a jacket/shirt/pants works as well, but Jasmine definitely prefers a tie!
9. Same Day Slideshow
If the main photographer creates a same-day slideshow to display at the reception, make sure and find a nearby work station (i.e. chair and outlet). I usually find a place just outside of the reception so we can hear what’s going on and be easily accessible.
8. Gather the Family
It’s so important to help the main photographer during family formal photos. There’s a really short amount of time to execute the photos, so be sure to find grandma and Uncle Kevin (who’s usually at the bar) so the entire group isn’t waiting for one person.
7. Taking Care of Vendors
During a wedding day, I usually don’t have time to cultivate friendships, but I always make sure to include every vendor throughout the day. If they need anything, I offer assistance. If the vendor dinner is served, I try to make sure everyone knows. It’s small things that ensure everyone feels like we’re on the same team…and there’s a high probability we’ll work together again in the future, so make sure to have everyone’s back.
6. Offer to Carry Bags
I’m kinda particular about this because it reminds me of my role as a second shooter…to make life easier for the main shooter. I’m not saying every second photographer MUST carry the bags, but it’s nice to offer. I always carry and maintain the main photo bag on wedding days and I know Jasmine appreciates it.
5. Get Water
Here in Southern California, peak wedding season is during the hottest time of the year, so keeping ourselves hydrated is very important. I always make sure Jasmine has a cold glass of water waiting for her: 1. Before the ceremony; 2. After the ceremony; and 3. After cocktail hour. Usually these are the hottest (and most stressful) times outdoors because there’s so much juggling going on for her. Every time she finishes her glass, she’s recharged (and in a better mood!).
4. Smile
Jasmine usually has to remind me of this one…and when she does, I usually give her a sarcastic smile. In all honesty, I know she’s right. Jasmine reminds me that guests are looking at us even when we don’t realize it and we’re a reflection of the bride’s desire of have us document her dream day. If we look hot, unhappy, tired, or annoyed, it’ll be a poor reflection on our brand. I’ll admit is sometimes hard to smile after hearing We Are Family…I’ve got all my sisters with me! for the thousandth time that month, but I then smile knowing Jasmine’s probably off dancing with the DJ! (just kidding…i had to throw this in here!)
3. Find New Angles
Don’t shoot over the main photographer’s shoulder! When I first started shooting with Jasmine, I shot behind her and captured–basically–the same photo as she did. Okay, just not as cool. She finally explained that she didn’t need another version of her photo…she needs an entirely photo of the same moment. I’ll admit this is harder than it seems, but I know she appreciates creativity and a different photo from the exact same moment.
2. NEVER PASS OUT YOUR BUSINESS CARD
One of the first weddings we photographed together, we had another photographer tag along with us. The night was flowing nicely until I overheard the third shooter pass his/her business card to a wedding guest…and passed his/her studio name along. I can’t explain how rude this is. On a wedding day, a second and third photographer is just that…an accompanying photographer to the main photographer’s studio. If a guest asks for a business card from a second shooter (which happens often!), the second shooter should always pass along the main photographer’s business card. Period. The end.
1. Leave Ego at the Door
This one doesn’t need much of an explanation as it’s more a rule for life in general. Just remember, as a second shooter, your number one goal is to shoot the best you can and make the main photographer’s life easier…even if it means missing the best photo opportunities at the wedding. Yes, everyone prefers to shoot the bride getting ready, the bride and groom portraits, and getting the First Kiss standing in the center of the aisle. But chances are, it ain’t gonna be like that. So own what you got and make it work. In the words of my main photographer and mentor, “Just be FABULOUS!” 😉