This spring I've had the pleasure to work for Monica Reynolds as a second shooter and assistant for some of her 2015 weddings! I love the role as secondary almost as much as being primary, and sometimes more...so much scope for creativity when you're not in charge :)
Brandon & Leah's intimate wedding at Brackenridge Park was lovely and sweet. A special day with the two of them, Leah's little daughter, the officiant, we two photographers, and some ducks expecting to share the cupcakes.
Between working for Laura, Monica, and a few others, and watching the Second Shooter Workshop on CreativeLive, I've gathered a few tips that will hopefully help you when you get the chance to be part of a wedding team! We'll start with the first of 3 parts: Shooting.
What exactly are you supposed to do when the primary photographer gets all the important shots?
How can you best serve the primary?
Can you use the photos for your portfolio?
All very good questions! And I hope you'll do lots of research on the subject, there are several blog posts out there with all kinds of great information, and I'll try to answer these from my own experience!
1. Know Your Role
Have a chat with the primary and find out exactly what they want you to do (where you move/stand and what you do during all the day's events, how and when you get to use/blog the images), do it famously, and go the extra mile. I've had different roles depending on the photographer I worked for. Some gave me charge over the guys hanging out and doing their formal photos, some covered everything while I captured candids while being ready to run errands. It can be different with each photographer and each wedding, so being flexible is key :) If you're not confident with posing or other areas (that's fine!) be honest with the primary. Hopefully they will give you pointers, or give you candid coverage duties, just be ready have their back in addition to shooting! (We'll cover Serving in Part 3)
For example, as a second, I generally cover the groom during the processional (hoping for a dear-to-the-heart reaction when he sees his bride), then try to capture emotions of the family watching, different angles of the ceremony (usually the primary is in the aisle), and ready for closeups of the first kiss, and the recessional of the bridal party (primary follows the couple).
2. Be Different
Your primary role as a secondary photographer is to be different!
Yes, the primary gets all the 'money' shots (being in charge of posing and having everyone looking at the camera and smiling), so you get the fun (really!) responsibility of capturing what goes on between the poses and behind the scenes. While you rarely get to have an opinion on anything since the primary has a solid game plan, shoot different camera angles of the poses they set up. Be ready for laughs, look at what hands are doing, watch out for special glances between friends and family in the bridal party. What is happening behind the photographer? Are the grandparents watching? Capturing moments with their cameras? Is anyone trying not to cry? Or, what is the light doing? Making the flowers glow? Shining on the bride's hair? Deepening the shadows on the groom's face? Can you zoom in to get a tight shot or move to where you can capture the whole scene? Who isn't dancing at the reception? What are they doing?
Look for ways you can add depth, detail, and memories to the wedding story. So often the day is criss-crossed with nerves, stress, lots of pretty details, lots of people, weather changes, etc. that the family may not remember the little things, 'sideshow' moments, or the fact that the bride had crafted some special element of the day. Photographs bring all that back and much more! If you get photos that you absolutely love and which also coincide with your aesthetic, brand, or your personal storytelling vision, hurrah! Just remember the end gallery that the primary delivers to their client is of the first and foremost importance :)
3. Fill In The Gap
For important events (cake-cutting, etc.) be sure the primary chooses their position, and either ask them or find a second-best place to photograph, just in case the primary gets stuck in the guests or the couple happens to turn in your direction without thinking (it's happened to me!) Be ready to deliver, check your settings before anything starts!
So, what do you think? Fired up to tackle the Second Shooter job? Totally overwhelmed and need encouragement? If you have any questions, drop them in the comments and I'll do my best to answer! (And if there are a lot, I may even do a video!)
Next week come back for Part 2: Schlepping! How to be a Gear Getter, List Crossing Off-er, Bouquet Holder, and More!
P.S. Get a few photos of the primary 'in their element'! They will love to have those mementos! Have a guest get a photo of you together, too, if possible! Your scrapbook awaits :) Bonus points if the couple has a photobooth at the reception ;)