Last weekend, I had the opportunity as a wedding second shooter for the lovely and oh so talented, Seneca Epley. I enjoyed working with her and being a part of Kathryn & Ian’s beautiful wedding day. I learned so much by watching the way Seneca works and how she explained portions of the process of shooting a wedding.
Seneca has been a solo wedding photographer for 5 years before having second shooters join her for the past year. She has perfected the list of shots she is going to take and how to get all of those shots plus the unique images individual to each wedding. (Although, she says she wouldn’t go back to shooting a wedding solo!)
Here are a few of the tips I will pass on to you as a wedding second shooter.
Get shots the main photographer is not taking.
My goals are always to be as helpful as possible and take pictures of everything. Use a different lens and look for different angles. You shouldn’t try to take the same photo that the main photographer is already capturing. Detail shots are important and the in-between formal shots can add life and emotion to a gallery. You want the pictures you take to be a nice addition to the photos the main photographer is taking.
More than likely the photographer you are working with understands you are learning so feel free to ask questions in the down time between portrait shots. At every location, Seneca would determine which lenses she would like me to use and then we would sync our settings to being similar. This helps the photos look more cohesive over all and it especially helped me understand how she chose the settings. If something doesn’t look quite right, ask the main photographer to take a look and help you adjust. Ask what images they would like you to capture or if you are needed to round up family members or fluff dresses.
I found that communication prior to the wedding day is key. An email to the main photographer to ask any and all questions about the wedding day is going to be crucial in how to prepare. Do you need to bring your own gear? What is the dress code? Should you bring your laptop or flash drive? What are you allowed to do with the photos you take?
Follow the main photographer’s lead.
Don’t overshadow the photographer as these are her clients that she has built report with. Let her give direction, make corrections, and give praise. How does she communicate with the clients and wedding party?
Keep an eye on the itinerary and the time.
Seneca told me that she tends to overshoot so if I could give her a 5-minute warning that would be extremely helpful. Therefore, I wore my prettiest watch (or make sure to charge your FitBit) and kept an eye on the time. Most weddings are on a tight itinerary so keeping track of this element can make or break the schedule. Since we are on the subject, please arrive early to the first location or wherever you are meeting the photographer—they will appreciate it.
I know this one sounds like a given, but please look for ways to be helpful especially in the small things. I carried the big camera bag so Seneca could focus on scouting the location for portraits or confirming details with the clients. You are there to learn and build your portfolio. Pack a few water bottles and snacks in a cooler bag to share in between locations. Would it help to keep track of all of those pesky lens caps? Keep an eye out and I am positive you will find something!
Be present in the moment. Is someone laughing in the background? Are the parents tearing up watching their little girl cuddle up to her groom? Snap photos at every opportunity. I found a bridesmaid waiting for bridal party portraits to start and snapped a few detail shots of her bouquet. Ask a groomsmen to stand still for a moment and grab a shot of his tux and tie.
Pay special attention to the photographer. How does she get the shot setup? Anticipate her next move and be there ready to help. See something out of place in the fore- or background, go tuck it out of sight.
I hope you found these tips helpful if you are (or are thinking about) second shooting a wedding. If you would like to find opportunities to second shoot, reach out to a local photographer and express interest.
Which tips did you find the most helpful? Or should some be added to this list?
Please check out Seneca’s website for more beautiful photos and read her blog post, A Classic DIY Des Moines Wedding.
Thank you, Seneca, for the opportunity to work with you, learn more about wedding photography and build my portfolio.