by Alisha for The Harris Company
Being a second shooter at a wedding carries a lot of responsibility! It is typically your job to capture all of the details, emotions, and behind the scenes moments while the main photographer is working with the couple & the bridal party, usually taking a slightly more directive role. As an experienced second shooter, I wanted to share some of the secrets that I have learned over the years. It is all about details, details, details… These are SO important! While the main photographer is preoccupied with other things, I love to capture the in-between moments. Here are a few photo ideas to keep in the back of your mind on a wedding day as a second shooter:
I think as second shooters you tend to think as “the second photographer with a camera” and your just there getting the “safe shots” well my whole mindset of that had changed when I was asked to pose, or get more creative. On a wedding day everyone is working together and collaborating with the photographer for working with also could change the direction of pose, shot they were going to take but you see it in a different way, or just getting a creative shot different from the main photographer. I think someone people look at second shooting as its own self. Second shooting really should be a way for you to work with a creative photographer you’ve wish to shoot with, better your own photography, or like I had mentioned take it as a opportunity to work as a whole with a team.
While we love working together, we often find to make the most of the timeline for the bride & groom, our team will split. The first shooter typically stays with the Bride, and the second goes with the groom. If we have enough time to shoot together, I focus on the candid connections (mom, grandma, the kids!) and little details, whether it be the rings, jewelry, invitations, save the date cards… Anything small and intimate! Same thing goes for the groom. Be sure to get shots of him alone and with his groomsmen.
In your overall approach, try to think about an album design. What details are tying the wedding day together? Always snap a shot of the bouquets and any sentimental items the couple may have incorporated into their day (we usually ask about these in our pre-wedding meeting so we know the importance of everything and make sure nothing goes missed!). Keep the creative room details in mind as well, such as flowers, table designs, menu cards and other memorable pieces! You’re there to tell the full story, so while the first shooter is capturing the main focus points, you’re there to capture all the supporting content!
I LOVE the reaction shots and emotional moments. Never forget the Bride, Groom, and quintessential guests. During the ceremony and first dance, everyone has eyes on the couple, this is your chance to capture the reactions of the group, especially mom, dad, the grandparents and other family members. It’s important to capture the real moments between the newlyweds while they are dancing, crying, laughing with friends, hugging – whatever you see that would create an amazing memory.
Fun parent dances!
Finally, think of a second and creative angle. Photograph through things, get up high or down low, get a close-up, go wide, or shoot from far away. You never know what kind of fabulous image you can create!
What Is In My Bag:
Here are a few of my go-to’s!
- Camera body & backup – Charged and ready to go
- Extra Batteries! – Always, always, always, have a charger and a second battery ready to go! We all know how fast our cameras die on a wedding day.
- Lenses – On a wedding day, I shoot with a 135, 50 and 35 wide angle. These three give me various angles and creative shots. I prefer the look & ease of prime lenses. I use my feet instead of a zoom and I wouldn’t have it any other way!! Our team usually shares a macro lens for small details like the rings as well.
- LOTS OF CARDS – If your camera has 2 slots for CF and SD, make sure you put both in, it’s always best to have a safety backup in case one crashes. (Just in case!)
- 2 Strobes/ Flashes with Pocket Wizards & Remote Trigger. Typically for a reception as a 2nd shooter, I’ll just keep a bounced flash on camera so I can walk around and snap candid shots of other guests or a second angle of the formalities of the couple. Buttttttt, if I land myself in the situation where portraits are running over and the lead shooter needs me to jump in the room ahead of time to make sure we get the details before anyone enters and a clear full-room shot, I’ll need to have the full setup, so its best to be prepared.
- Lens wipes – Having clean equipment is very important!
- Wedding Day Game Plan and a checklist for formal portraits (as a 2nd shooter its your job to be the crowd control!). Its important to make sure the bride & groom feel comfortable and relaxed on their wedding day, making sure you have the portrait list in hand will make the family photos run super smoothly. Not to mention- having a good feel for the timeline of the day (and having a way to reference it throughout the day!) is always a great idea.
- MOST IMPORTANT! SNACKS! Wedding days tend to be really long days and you have no idea when you will get a second to eat. Something small and easy to eat is always my go to!
Best Advice – Be ready for anything and get to the event early! Weddings are unpredictable, anything can happen. Give yourself some buffer time and take a chance to breath & get setup. There’s nothing worse than rushing into a wedding, already exhausted with a 10 hour day ahead of you!
Thanks for reading along!