September 13, 2015

Second Shooting // My Perspective

I’ve had a plan to blog about second-shooting through my perspective, but I have had a hard time coming up with what to say. Don’t get me wrong, there is a LOT to say about second-shooting weddings, but I couldn’t figure how I wanted to say what I wanted to say. I decided to write this post as my experience and photography journey combined with a few tips for those who are interested in second-shooting.

When I lived in Fayetteville, I only ever shot portraits. Senior portraits to be exact. I LOVED it, but I was sort of isolated- I didn’t collaborate with anyone and I felt like it would be wrong of me to ask for help. Everything I learned, I taught myself. I even practiced my techniques and editing styles on my very photogenic puppy 🙂  (sidenote: if you are interested in photography, seriously practice on anything and everything!!). I loved working with seniors and still-do, but once I knew I was moving to Little Rock, I knew my business would not be the same. I had a niche in NWA, but there were so many talented photographers in Little Rock and it was a little scary joining those forces.

About 6 months before I moved, another photographer posted on a facebook forum that she was looking for a second-shooter.  I immediately jumped on the chance to apply, not really because I was interested in shooting weddings, but because I wanted to make a connection and meet other professionals in my new city. We agreed to meet at a Starbucks a few weeks before we were to shoot our first wedding together and the rest is history. Literally.

Kati Mallory and I have been shooting weddings for nearly two years now and not only have I gained such a great friend, but I have learned (and continue to learn) so much through this experience. I have learned how to use a flash, how to interact with more than one subject, how to shoot in different lighting situations, how to shoot with a moving subject, how to get better composition, how to use a macro for those AH-mazing ring shots and so SO much more. I have also been lucky enough to experiment with and practice with film (read: only if time allows!).

In return, I really try to help the day run as smoothly as possible. Whether it’s running out to the car for equipment, setting up equipment, holding bouquets, etc., I’m there to support as much as I can! My main job, though, is to tell the beautiful story of the day from another perspective. We have shot over 20 weddings together and through this, I have kept a mental list of what to do and not do when shooting:

  1. Don’t just copy the same shots of the main photographer. When doing portraits, I will usually stand to the side, with a different lens and capture the day from a different angle. During the first dance, I will shoot with a zoom lens and focus on the intimate moment all the while shooting with a wide-angle lens during the bouquet toss to get the reactions of “all the single ladies.”
  2. Get reaction shots. If the bride and groom are doing their first dance, I will try and locate the parents or siblings of the married couple and get a few reaction shots. It would be wrong of me to admit that I am the all-time pro at this. At the last wedding, I thought I captured a beautiful moment only to zoom in and realize that I was off focus. This is something that I am really trying to improve on, though.
  3. Candid photos. If the primary photographer is rearranging a few bridal party people and the bride and groom happen to sneak a kiss, I want to try and capture that. If the guys are hanging out, tossing a football or kicking back with a cold one, that just adds to the story of the day!
  4. Details. I’ll be the first to admit that I am still trying to nail this as well, but details are so important. Start way back, come in closer, shoot up, shoot down and all around. This not only applies to reception details, but if the primary photographer is arranging the couple for portraits, I want to get the detail of his hand on the small of her back, the lace on her dress, the boutonniere pinned tight to his tux.
  5. Be aware of the primary photographer and anticipate where they are shooting. I am always trying to be aware of where the main photographer is standing or walking and shooting. It would be terrible for her to capture THE shot and I’m in the back photo-bombing….
  6. Never promote your own business on the job. ’nuff said.
  7. Show up looking professional and with the proper gear. This is where I should mention that wearing bright red to photograph a wedding probably isn’t a good idea. The colorcast is awful.
  8. Have fun, but get the job done. I’m not even ashamed to admit that I will dance along and even sing out loud during the reception- especially if the cha-cha slide or the wobble comes on!- but I still have to remember that I am there to work and represent the primary’s business.

I have learned so much through working with other people…it’s made me more confident in my own abilities, it’s stretched my comfort zone and it’s taught me that photography doesn’t have to be a cut-throat business. Some people are confused as to why I don’t just start shooting weddings on my own and for me, this is a personal decision.  I really really enjoy second-shooting weddings and it’s just not the right time for me to branch out on my own. Maybe in the future or maybe never. I do, however, LOVE working with seniors, families, babies, and couples so if you are interested in one of those sessions, hit me up!

All photos below were shot for Kati Mallory Photo & Design with a Contax 645 on Fuji 400h and developed by the FIND Lab.