1. Be Prepared. Prepared to move fast, think on your feet and work hard. Weddings are hard work and there is A LOT of stuff going on. Luckily, as the second shooter YOU are not expected to capture every single moment. You are there as backup. You are there to get a second perspective on the day – maybe some creative angles, stepping away from the scene to balance out the main photographer’s shots. Make sure to go over the schedule of the day with the photographer before things get nutty, so you know where YOU need to be. Know what they expect of you.
2. Don’t Get in the Way. Keep one eye behind the camera while the other eye is on the main photographer. Make sure you are not in their shots. This is EXTREMELY important during the ceremony. Watch for subtle signals from the photographer to get out of the way. Back to rule number one. Make sure you are prepared – Before the ceremony ask the photographer where he/she wants you during the ceremony.
3. Focus on the Details. As a second shooter make sure to nail some detail shots – reception details, flowers, tables before guests arrive, etc. Also, focus on the guests. Photograph their reactions during the ceremony. Also good guest shots during cocktail hour are important. Often the main photographer will be doing family portraits during this time. Details, details, details.
4. Don’t Pull Out Your iPhone . . . .unless you are hiding in the bathroom. Not only are you representing yourself as a professional but you are representing the photographer’s business. You are not getting paid to check facebook. Keep things professional.
5. Be the Hero. Offer to carry some of their equipment. Pack a granola bar or two. After you two have been running around for hours, offer one to the photographer. This will earn you points. At the reception offer to get the photographer a coke or water. Bonus points. Again, see rule #1. Be Prepared. A few things I always have in my camera bag besides the obvious- gum or mints, Tylenol, needle and thread or safety pins, and a pocket knife.
6. Keep Your Game Face On and Don’t Show FEAR. Be confident. You should not be expected to nail every shot, but do your best. If things aren’t going as hoped STAY CALM. The last thing you want to do is show the photographer how scared or nervous you may be. Don’t tell them you totally blew a shot. . . . at least not immediately. Just last weekend I was the second shooter. Here is the scene: Wedding party on bridge, main photographer was with them shooting from the bridge. I was instructed to stay back and shoot from across the way to the bridge without falling in the river. In the few minutes I had I couldn’t line up the shot I wanted because there was a dead tree with ugly branches smack dab between me the river and the bridge. Even with my telephoto lens, I could not get the shot lined up. The photographer comes back with the bride and groom at his side and he asks me “How did it go? Did you get a good shot?” My response, “Awesome! I nailed it!!” Granted, I hate lying, but at that moment you can’t say no. Not with the clients right there. You don’t want to give them any reason to doubt you and your capabilities. I did, however, wait until just the photographer and I were alone, to tell him I did not get the shot. He completely understood and knew it wasn’t the best angle for the shot. Stay confident.
7. Don’t Try to Get Business for Yourself. These are not your clients and you did not book the wedding. The last thing you want to do is try to network for your own business. If you are getting paid you are working for THEM. Even if you are not getting paid, you are gaining critical experience. Be thankful for that. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot. If anything ask for your own business cards with their company name or get some of theirs and write your name on them. Be thankful for the opportunity that they gave you and only good things can come from that.
8. Always Photograph the Photographer. If it’s a good shot maybe they will use it on their website. If not. . . maybe it could be used as a little blackmail. 😉
Gwen Shoemaker is a seasoned professional photographer with 13 years of experience capturing the beauty of human beings all around the world. From Iceland to Antarctica, and Colorado to Bend, Oregon, Gwen’s passion for love and adventure has led her to specialize in wedding photography. Known for her ability to capture moments of raw emotion, she’s been humorously described by a client as an “emotion vulture,” always ready to swoop in and capture the perfect moment. Gwen’s love for travel and new experiences began when she studied abroad in rural Spain at the age of 17 and has since taken her to 15 different countries. Interestingly, it was in the least populated continent, Antarctica, where she found her true love. Gwen seeks to work with clients who share her love for the universe, are madly in love with their partners, and are full of joie de vivre.