September 3, 2018
I had the pleasure and privilege to work with multiple lead photographers the first few years I worked in wedding photography. I highly suggest this for all who are getting into this business because it makes you a better photographer in the end and I’ll tell you why:
1: Like I mentioned before I got to work with several different leads, so I was able to see different styles and work flows. I was able to observe and watch their talents allowing me to decide what I personally liked as a photographer and see what kind of photographer I wanted to become. The truth was when I started out I had no idea what type of photographer I wanted to be and needed to figure that out. The best way to do this is like all professions, practice!
2: Don’t get me wrong I love being a lead photographer, but I really love the experience you get as a second photographer as well. When the pressure comes from being a lead photographer kicks in, you sometimes don’t get to see all the small details you do as a second photographer. The little details of the line ups: i.e. getting all the family members ready for photos so they can travel onto the reception, to the small piece of hair on the bride’s face, the details of the crooked boutonniere, the placement of the bride’s dress, and many more. These details are hard for one person to notice so being that person reminds you of the little details that make a difference in each unique wedding you photograph.
3: Being a second photographer also lets you see the challenges that happen in weddings. Most weddings have the same flow to them but there is not one wedding I have been to as a photographer that I can say is has the same flow. I have shot more than 100 weddings and each one had different challenges. Watching lead photographers take on the challenges and solving countess problems as they arise can give you many tricks in your back pocket to deal with these challenges without the clients even noticing. How a photographer handles these challenges is what makes a great photographer, not just taking pretty pictures.
4: When you first go into the wedding photography field you will hear “don’t you have the best job ever, just taking pictures?” Well the response is yes, it is a lot of fun; however, being a second photographer will show you the truth about being in that field. I loved all of it, the challenges, moments between people, the dances, the tears, I mean the list goes on and on. The truth is, the hours are long, you sweat a looooot, you are giving 110% none stop, the equipment adds 20-30 pounds to you and so on. These are the things you need to test and make sure that it is for you.
5: The other perk of photographing with someone else is building a team that shows a seamless experience to the client. To make this type of experience for your client it requires a team of full trust and understanding. If this isn’t happening for you, then you need to find another photographer to photograph with. The bond should be solid where you can communicate across a room or over music that is overwhelmingly loud. Being part of a team lets you learn what it takes to build a successful unit, and what kind of team you think you would need as a lead. The best kind of team involves individuals that develop and mature over time, and it is that relationship that allows both individuals to develop and mature over time. Stuff happens sometimes, such as equipment breaking or someone feeling ill in the middle of a wedding and you have to be able to step up. The wedding will not stop or slow down, so you have to always be prepared for that.
So, these are the top 5 things I learned in the first couple of years I was a wedding photographer. I hope this gives you insight of how important this second shooter position is and all the things you can learn from it. If you’re wanting to step into this line of work, this is really the best way to do it. If you feel unequipped, I’m here to tell you I had never taken a class in photography in my life and I jumped in head first; better yet, this turned out to be the best way to learn the business.
If you have been able to have such an experience already I would love to hear your personal experiences as well!