Every season I say that one day I would either teach a workshop or … just write a blog post about being the perfect Second Photographer. I feel that being in this position is absolutely vital to any wedding photographer out there. You are not only a photographer, you are also the main Photographer’s right-hand man. You will wear so many hats that day you’ll need another closest. So let me break this down from my personal experience of being a Second Photographer.
I started my career in photography as a second shooter and advanced quickly. I don’t mean to toot my horn, but toot toot. I thought I was the bomb dot com assistant. (please photographers that I have assisted for, comment below if I totally wasn’t. awkward!). But going off of compliments and callbacks I will say that I wasn’t half bad. That being said, my number one goal on a wedding day has always been, “I am available to do whatever the main photographer needs me to do today; however ridiculous it was.’ I was there to first assist the photographer and secondly learn; soak up any information I possibly could. Making sure I take photos for my portfolio was only the bonus, not the priority. So if the photographer says at a moments notice, “I need the bouquet!” You walk down the stairs, around the corner and through the woods as fast as possible and get it. I promise you, if you do these things, with a smile, you will be that photographers bestie. Guaranteed! Here are a few tips and tricks I have learned along the way.
1. Arrive on time!
There is nothing scarier than a late assistant. Y’all this starts the mood for the day. If you are late you have made your main photographer for the day concerned about where you are and not focusing on serving his/her couple. Arrive 15 mins before the scheduled time that you are given to arrive. You will impress your photographer and start the day on a less stressful note. If for some reason you do run late, make sure you call the photographer asap. Give them the opportunity to come up with a plan. Life happens – people are late!
2. Dress Code
This is highly vital. You can not go wrong with casual business attire in solid dark colors. When in doubt – throw it out! I could tell you lots of stories but I’ll refrain. I prefer to wear cocktail dresses that is a thin polyester lightweight material in black. That has been my go-to outfit. Try to not stand out. Ask yourself the question, “Would I wear this as a guest?” Target has some fantastic options right now for perfect options. Here are some perfect examples.
All dresses are from jcrew.com
For Men, wear a dress pants and dress shirt. Again, dress as if you were a guest at the wedding.
I am telling you, flats or sandals! And comfort comfort comfort! I get a couple pairs of new flats for each wedding season. You know the Grandma ones with soft cushions in them? Those. I get those. Actually, I get croc(see photo below). Call me crazy but they are a must. Check them out because they have a new line. Whatever shoe is comfortable to you get them and buy two pairs. Keep in mind that it will most likely be a hot day. Hot days equal sweaty feet. Eww, gross! For sandals, I love this style.
My routine is usually coffee on the way to the wedding and for a snack, during the day I pack fiber one bars. Yum! Unless you are on a crazy diet pack some snacks. As an assistant, you are running around everywhere. You need your energy. To help your Photographer, bring an extra one for him/her and make sure to ask them if you can get them a snack or a drink. They will love you a long time. Oh also, bring WATER!
5. Mind Reader
If you don’t have a hidden talent yet, you will after becoming a second photographer. Knowing what your photographer needs next is soooo important. If there is a big group in front of them and he/she has the 50mm on their camera, it would be wise to have the 35mm in hand ready to go when they ask for it. The photographer needs to do a quick change of the lens to make a smooth transition. As you assist your photographer more and more you’ll become a well-oiled machine functioning together simultaneously. Just make sure you are always watching your photographer and making mental notes of what their next move.
6. Timeline Manager
Most of the time there is a timeline that the photographer will hand you to keep track of. On the timeline there will be a “must have photo list”. It’s very helpful when you can cross off the shots taken throughout the day so that when you huddle to look it over before the ceremony the photographer will know what still needs to be captured. Know the timeline and when the next event is happening. Sometimes as the main photographer we get caught up in our portrait sessions and need that extra set of eyes to be watching the clock. Time is critical!
When you are shooting, shoot behind the main photographer and about 7 to 10 feet to the right or left. That’s a good place to start unless your photographer tells you otherwise. Good lenses to use for second shooting is the 70-200mm, 135mm, 100mm or the 50mm. It’s all in preference, but make sure to be using a different lens than what the main shooter is using. When shooting, shoot a variety. Horizontal, vertical, close up, far away, side shots. The main shooter wants a variety of shots from your perspective. Ask your photographer how many images does he/she want from you at the end of the day. You don’t want to be trigger happy and then find out they only wanted 700 images. Make sure to get those detail shots that they can use for their wedding album. Just remember that the wedding day is not about making sure you – the assistant, gets photos for your portfolio. That is also something you should talk to your main photographer about ahead of time. I’ll tell you up front that I do not let my second photographer take the images for profile use.
8. Have fun
With all these tips in mind, have fun with it! It’s really important that you enjoy spending time with the Photographer that you are ultimately learning from. Nothing is worse than spending 8-10 hours with a person that makes your skin crawl. Because let’s be honest, you’ll be serving them all day long.
Alright ya’ll. Go out there and be a killer Second Photographer!!!!! If you have further questions you would like me to talk about leave your questions below. I would be thrilled to answer them.
Hello, hello it’s me, Whitney! I’m back!!!! Let me fill you in on my journey the last two years. I got married in 2015, moved to Washington in the Fall of 2015, found out we were pregnant 2016, had our baby girl in October 2016 and moved back to Wisconsin in May 2017. Whoa! That’s a lot!
Why did we move to Washington in the first place?
We lived in a small town on the border of Washington and Idaho called Garfield. My husband attended the University of Idaho in Moscow, Idaho. Which is why we moved out west. We enjoyed our adventure out there while it lasted but very much looked forward to getting back to the good ol’ Midwest. Last May he completed his Master’s degree and we packed up and moved back to Wisconsin. We landed in Rhinelander. GO HODAGS!
Did you continue photographing weddings during the last two years?
I had a handful of weddings booked in Minnesota the first year out west. But I also had a full-time day job at the local counselor center. I loved jet-setting to Minnesota once a month. It fulfilled my adventurous spirit. I was even able to shoot a wedding in northern Idaho and shoot an engagement session in Washington. If you’ve never been out west you definitely should check it out. You Washingtonians and Idahoans don’t forget that I travel!!!
After my daughter was born I took an extended maternity leave (wink, wink) from shooting weddings and did the mommy thing. Now that we are back in Wisconsin and I’m a stay at home Mom I’m ready to get back into the wedding industry!
What are we going to see differently in season 2018?
A few things I’m really excited about and you should be too. My turnaround time for my couples to get their images back will be 1-2 weeks. Did your eyes just get big? They should because that is just in time for you to get back from your honeymoon and to relive your wedding day through beautiful imagery. Another thing will be sneak peeks! I want you to be sitting in the airport ready to depart for your honeymoon and to receive an email from me including a few of your wedding day sneak peeks. Amazing, right? And lastly, posing! I don’t think I struggled with this now but I did get a little bored over the last 5 years of the same posing. So with that, I want to be more casual and give even more direction in my posing. I’m assuming you haven’t ever modeled or maybe you haven’t gotten your photo taken since your senior photos. Perfect! You are my perfect client!
What else will we see from Whitney Anderson?
I’m planning a new client welcome packets, something eye appealing as well as a deliciously pleasing treat! I’m super excited to love on all my 2018 clients and give them the special treatment.
So with all of that said, I am back in the Midwest and ready to service all of Minnesota and Wisconsin couples.
If you are following my journey I would love to hear from you. What is your story? Struggles through business and life?
Birch Hill Barn is a fantastic Wisconsin Barn Wedding Venue and I was so lucky to be apart of this Coast to Coast styled shoot. From the planning to the day of the shoot Kelly from Maven, Jacqueline from Birch Hill Barn and Kelly from Thistle & Bloom were seamlessly on point.
I love watching wedding vendors in action doing what they do best. Styled shoots are such a fun time to get together as vendors make magic and work together over a styled vision. This one did not disappoint. Thank you to each and every one of you. Because of your hard work we were also published in the Minnesota Bride magazine. YAY!
Coordination & Styling: Maven
Floral Design: Thistle & Blooms
Paper Products & Calligraphy: Shasta Bell Calligraphy
Dress: Anna Campbell from a&be
Desert: Cocoa & Fig
Hair & Makeup: Julie Swenson Beauty
Furniture Rentals: Rudy’s Event Rentals