wedding photography

My Second Shooter Experience

Okay, so tons of people show their work as a hired wedding photographer. But what about the second shooter? What about his/her perspective of a wedding? What DOES a 2nd shooter do anyway? Plenty of things. But what I'm going to share with you today is how I, my personal approach as Imaginale Design, takes photos as a second shooter.

Since moving to Phoenix last summer, I was really excited about the height of wedding season to be able to connect with photographers and assist them. Well, I had that first opportunity with Christopher of Christopher Leigh Studios. He and is wife are the coolest and sweetest people, and combined with a beautiful Phoenix day -- this didn't feel like work at all.

Nervous, excited, and... nervous -- I pulled up to the venue. Chris gave me a run down of the wedding time-line and we headed to shoot the guys first....

Different angles. Different perspective. This is what I am constantly repeating in my head.

And it doesn't hurt when one strikes a pose for you while the groom is getting his portraits ;)

Then on to the girls! I could have skipped my way there I was so excited. I love the emotions that linger throughout the bridal suite. The anticipation, the nerves, the overwhelming sentiment. The feelings were easy to recall seeing how I was just there less than a year ago.

Before she got in her dress, we needed some shots of it. Okay, cue the music -- this is where the holy spirit of photography would begin to descend on me. Hahaha. No, but seriously. Details? I. love. details.

Then Chris asked if I could go get detail shots of the bouquets. That's like asking me if I'd go back to Spain. A resounding yeeeeeees!

Honestly, it meant a lot to me for Chris, on my first time assisting him, to let me go on my own and trust me to be the only one taking the shots of the bouquet and reception details. I guess my love of details is an obvious one :)

As I was walking back, I caught the groom with these funky glasses (matching the wedding theme) on and pulled him for a quick photo..

Then back to the girls' room I went, where Maggie (the bride) was finishing getting ready.

Oh my gosh... and then her dad walked in, seeing her for the first time. Talk about holding back tears behind the camera. This moment was so fresh to me too.

Then we left the room to take the bridal party photos.

All the while this adorable flower girl, oh you know who I'm talking about, was distracting the girls and getting in the shots. So her and I had our own little shoot ;)

Please tell me she cracked you up too.

And while Chris took photos of Maggie with each bridesmaid, I pulled them aside and took an individual photo of them.

Then I saw Maggie's dad and asked if I could take his picture. Very debonair, eh? :)

Then it was ceremony time!

What's so funny is that Chris noticed how sneaky I was in my photography approach. He said "you just manage to get in these spots because you're so tiny without people noticing you." That is exactly what I did during the ceremony, constantly looking up from my camera to find Chris, making sure I wasn't in his shot. He asked me to stay focused on the parents.

Michael watching his bride for the first time walking down the isle..

Maggie's mom turning back to catch a glimpse of Michael watching Maggie :) :)

Michael's parents...

Later, both sets of parents read something special to both Maggie and Michael...

I loved how they held on to each other for support.

Yes, I was literally squatting behind seats. I guess this is what Chris meant about how sneaky I am.

I now pronounce you... you know :)

After that Chris grabbed Maggie and Michael and the rest of the bridal party to do some formal photos. In the mean time I took some guest photos. This can feel really awkward at first, but I finally just looked for groups of people and with a huge smile asked "can I get a picture of y'all?" I was surprised at how excited they were to get their picture taken!

Then I joined Chris discretely while he took some shots of Michael and Maggie. I paid attention to when he was focused on Michael, so I could focus on Maggie.

I can't get over her bouquet.

I was at a constant 45 degree angle (obviously give or take) to Chris.

I asked Chris if I could take some ring shots and as I walked away he shouted "make sure the diamond is nice and clear!" Okay, I seriously spent a good 10 minutes --not styling (because that's easy to me) -- focusing intensely on capturing the diamond crisply.

Yes, I did yell "MONEY!" in my head after this shot...

The beautiful reception...

A beautiful slide show with childhood and current photos of Maggie and Michael played for the guests. Michael's mom was particularly fond of it ;)

Maggie and Michael watched from afar...

After that, toasts and first dances and all the festivities began! I was mainly assisting with lighting at this point, but did sneak off to capture some photos.

I thought the highlights of my day were over, until Chris' wife and I were outside admiring the string lights. I told her how I would love to take a photo of Maggie & Michael under those lights and how amazing it would have been to have their first dance there.

She nudged me and said "why don't you ask him?" And I thought, yeah... why not? Chris was all for it and told me to grab Michael and Maggie. I told them to just pretend it was their first dance again. No formality.. just relaxed in each other's arms.

Aaaaugh. You guys. THIS... THIS IS so my element. I'm a huge fan of natural light and using light that is available. There's something so real about it that makes my heart s-i-n-g.

And all I can say is I'm simply and absolutely grateful to Chris. For trusting me, respecting my creative choices, and giving me my first assisting opportunity here in Phoenix. He and his wife are amazing people!

Hope you enjoyed a second shooter's perspective and an insight into my personal approach :) My wish is that this will help at least one photographer -- to show them the possibilities you have as a second shooter. And to hold that opportunity tightly.