Tips For How to Be a Second Photographer at Weddings

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Want to begin a career as a photography assistant? Are you an accomplished amateur photographer, and you want to venture into the world of wedding photography as a second photographer? Consider these recommendations on what (and what not) to do.Tips For How to Be a Second Photographer at Weddings

Communicate

The lead photographer needs to communicate with the second shooter. You must know precisely what is expected of you. Have a discussion prior to the wedding with the lead photographer. Be ready for any scenario that comes up. Assist the main photographer whenever possible, but also aim to take pictures on your own.

Help the lead photographer

Help the lead photographer.

Behave professionally

If you are uncertain about how to get something done, consult with the lead photographer. Don’t be embarrassed to do it in front of others, including the clients. Remember that the lead photographer has the final say in everything during the shoot. If you find a flaw in his plan, let him know discretely.

Review your images

You’ll need to retake a picture if you miss it the first time around. Even the greatest photographers miss shots from time to time. Don’t be discouraged by admitting to missing a shot. You can always claim that someone’s eyes were closed or glare from the sun inhibited the initial photo taken.

Tips For How to Be a Second Photographer at Weddings

Learn what the lead photographer is doing

Keep your eyes on the groom, bride, and the main photographer. Attempt to ascertain his approach and study it. Make queries about his lens focal length, framing, shutter speed, and aperture. Why is he shooting in a particular direction? Why is he standing in a particular spot?

Wedding Photographer - Tips For How to Be a Second Photographer at Weddings

Study the behaviour of the lead photographer

Getting a great shot is only one aspect of the gig. A wedding photographer needs to also handle the expectations of the clients and engage with them in order to earn their trust and reassure them. Make note of how the lead photographer talks to clients, and pay attention to how he approaches people for the sake of taking a picture. Observe his behaviour, demeanour, and dialog.

Doing group pictures - Tips For How to Be a Second Photographer at Weddings

Create a powerful portfolio

As a second photographer, you’ll have a chance to work without as much pressure the lead photographer has, and establish your portfolio in the process. Consult with the main photographer to learn exactly what is expected of you.

There will more than likely be opportunities to take pictures of specific items (details, portraits, etc.), as well as some time to take shots of the things you want. As far as you know, only a single photographer may be necessary. You won’t need to shadow the lead photographer to get the same shots. Use this time for personal growth.

Tips For How to Be a Second Photographer at Weddings

The opportunity to select a more artistic perspective

For instance, when the bride walks down the aisle with her father, just one photographer will be required. The bride will need a conventional picture, likely to be taken by the lead photographer. You can use this moment to make an artistic photo. Select an unanticipated perspective, play with shadows, create a reflection – in other words, get creative.

Artistic photo - Tips For How to Be a Second Photographer at Weddings

Artistic picutres - Tips For How to Be a Second Photographer at Weddings

Prepare yourself before the shoot

As a wedding photographer, you need to be able to quickly adapt to several scenarios and work under pressure. You’ll move from a sunny exterior to a dark church, or from a peaceful ceremony to a lively dance. You need to make the changes required to adapt to each scenario you find yourself in!

It’s prudent to train yourself prior to the wedding to develop reflexes automatically. Quality photographers with extensive experience can modify camera settings on the fly. Much like driving an automatic vehicle, you’ll need to first consider what you’re doing while you’re focused on what’s in front of you.

Use flash - Tips For How to Be a Second Photographer at Weddings

Learn to use flash.

Help setting light - Tips For How to Be a Second Photographer at Weddings

Help the lead photographer with lighting.

Typical errors to avoid making

Don’t show up in your favorite attire; dress accordingly as per the environment and the event.

Be patient. Don’t act like you have all the answers and wait for the right moment to take a shot.

In the daytime, synchronize your camera with the lead photographer’s so that all the photos will be organized and easy to sort in the processing phase.

Don’t be in the lead photographer’s pictures and leave him alone (i.e. don’t ask constant questions). You shouldn’t be waiting on the main photographer hand-and-foot for directions. However, if this is your first shoot, it’s okay to ask questions.

Tips For How to Be a Second Photographer at Weddings

Don’t get in the lead photographer’s shots. Know where he will be and get his guidance on where to stand.

Prior to the wedding, ensure your lenses and camera sensors are clean; bring materials to clean your camera.

Ensure your battery is recharged; keep a pair of batteries and a charger on standby. Have another battery as a backup in the event the one you’re using fails.

Know your camera inside and out. If you’re not sure how to operate your camera on the day of the shoot, you’re not giving the client their money’s worth. You need to be on the ball with your equipment – that’s why you’re being paid.

Conclusion

In closing, you can enhance your skills by being a second photographer at a wedding. Take some time to learn as much as you can. By doing so, you’ll be able to take beautiful pictures anywhere, anytime, and build a powerful portfolio in the process.

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Alexandre Mayeur is the creator and the founder of French Touch Photography a wedding photography company on Minneapolis. He has twelve years experience in Weddings in Paris, where he had created Objectif-Mariage. Alexandre as also a personal artistic activity, and works in fashion and commercial photography.

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  • walwit

    I think that a hands-free communication device would be very useful.

  • KC

    I shot a lot of events with a team. Planning, staging, and communications makes it a lot easier. Often you can do a walk through a few days before an event to get a sense of where things are going to be placed. Sometimes the people setting up the space don’t realize that photo and video need a “clear shot” to make great images. If there’s sound people, they may let you tap their mixing board for mics. 2 way communications make life a lot easier. A “timeline” is also a great thing to have, too. Knowing what’s going to happen and when means you’re not caught off guard.

    Another fun thing to consider: remote cameras. Think about adding a few GoPro’s with a remote to the mix, or any small remote cameras. You may need to bring a few hot spots for that to work well, but it makes for some nice long shots. Action cameras are small enough to put in places a full sized camera would intrude.

    It can take a lot of work to make things look spontaneous.

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