There are so many types of niches in photography. Photography itself is quite a niche because it's a form of communication that---the sole purpose is to reveal our inner desires. It's everywhere. In the commercials, social media, your time capsules, everyday we see an ad posted on billboards, fast restaurants like Bo Jangles(YUM.) But, we don't know, or at least the viewer doesn't know how wonderful an image could be until it is revealed to them. And I think the most intriguing niche is a Second Photographer.
A second photographer is the Lead Photographer's duplicate(or they should be) in the wedding photography world. I was and still am a second for my friend's and colleagues clients. I think its fun to fly under the radar and shoot the session. And I think they are the most underestimated part of the wedding.
So in this blog, were gonna be talking about how I utilize them and how they could be beneficial to your wedding.
Breaking the ice
When Brooke, my second photographer and I arrive at Anna and Jess' Wedding last weekend, our main objective was to greet as many people as we can. We walked around and introduced ourselves to the vendors, guests, and families that are coming into the house. We made ourselves known so that were not just surprising them with a camera and ruining their peaceful moments with their family. They can ask how long I've been photographing, or simply pick up a small banter which I can use later to break the ice.
I connected with her friends. I learned that they're all from different states. Sari and Ben was from Seattle, Amy from Austin, and many others from Durham-Raleigh, New York City, and DC. They had formed a group called Adventure Club back in North Carolina University where they'd plan out cheap college adventures to otherwise would be an expensive solo trip. This was another special adventure and I was ecstatic to be a part of it!
Remembering everyones names is usually a challenge but I get a pass when I make them look good in front of the camera haha.
Connecting with people is important, they can easily be on the defensive mode if they have a camera pointed in front of their face.
All while my Second Photographer zips through our shot list.
Anna and Jess
Sari who was the family event coordinator did an amazing job getting us started. Her husband Ben and his group of friends helped getting the rental chairs up to the beach. To get started, I gave my second photographer the job to get our establishing shots, the beach house, people helping with the wedding or guests soaking the sun.
Anna and Jess were getting hair done when we first started. I invited my second photographer in to get a feel for having two photographers in the room before I sent her away to complete our shot list.
I am able to focus on their reactions, laughs, dancing, and be in the moment without watching the clock.
When Brook finishes with her shotlist, thats when I know my time is up. She comes back up to the room and gets more candid shots with her wide angle lens.
Nonchalant Group Shot
Once they were ready for us, we split our jobs. One of the things that I do as a wedding and portrait photographer is to encourage people to do a nonchalant group shot. I'd find an angle in the house and ask people if I can get a couple of photos of them at said location. I'd add people in when they stop to check out what I'm doing. It's the best way to show a little bit of their personality, and a great set up for people to ask me for more photos of them.
So I went down from their getting ready room, and asked people who warmed up to me to get nonchalant group shot. I've given them small directions to sit, stand, lean on furniture objects to make it feel like they've been sitting there for a while.
I know how that it may change the way people see how their day unfolded but the intention to get a group shot of everyone is as if its unintentional is there. It's less likely for my clients to notice that I rounded them up if they were spread out.
Mobility and Preparedness
I think a true testament of a Seasoned Southern Wedding Photographer is that I am prepared for anything. If the wedding dress is nicked, there's a loose thread, wrinkled train, lack of boombox, I was able to provide relief to the newlyweds. These minor issues can really annoy a wedding day. So with the help of a second photographer, I was able to fetch them a Boombox, Garment Steamer(RIP, I forgot it at the beach house) and my bridal kit which made their getting ready enjoyable without ever leaving the room.
Plus getting compliments from them really validates my job as a pro hahah
While Brook photographed our guests, I was on the 3rd floor--photographing the brides. Instead of running up and down the very wobbly, not-so-confident staircase, we would split the coverage to get movement shots in the frame.
This is ideal if the venue is big or have several levels that require attention.
Finding Different Angles
Most beach houses in Carolina beach have a balcony. When I went over the details of the house with Brooke, I wanted to get a shot of their wedding from the second floor. Unfortunately, when we got there, they didn't have a balcony that faced the ocean. So we had to rule out that part and instead opted for a different strategy during the ceremony.
I had Brooke use a 300mm and 135mm and asked her to photograph Jenn and Anna from a far so that we wouldn't have duplicate results.
Lenses like a 135mm and 300mm give a more compressed look, its not desirable when all shots were photographed that way but what this allows her to do is have a narrower angle compared to a 58mm or a 35m lens. I don't want to get too technical but I can easily get out of the frame if I need to without having 2 photographers, when everyone is moving around from their seats and ceremony.
After the wedding, Anna and Jess stayed for their family portraits taken at the wedding arch by Nomadic Blooms(Great job on the arch BTW!) At this point, I had my second photographer take over so I can get ready to go in the water. Anna and Jess assigned Sari to call and bring in family members who are at cocktail hour to come down to the beach and photograph them for their portrait.
There were 2 must have shots Anna and Jess wanted which included us getting in the water and creative photos of them in their second dress for the reception.
Wedding Bouquets that include Venus Fly Trap and mushrooms which give that natural and woodsy kind of feel.
We then walked towards the beach where we prepared to do a portrait session on the beach. You can see me change from my comfy black jeans into shorts. You can also see the time of day moved very quickly as one with the bouquet shows a much cooler photo, while the other shows much warmer tones.
Reception and Rest of the Wedding
Wedding photography is a very tough job. Our clients rely to get the must-have photos, while maintaining our clothes arm-pit sweat free. I think people underestimate how much lead photographers have to juggle in our full day. Time, Camera, Shotlist, maintaining our sanity when a groom just refuses to smile. Thats why a second photographer who can spot all of this really helps get the photos our clients want. Without them, I'd have to carry 20-30 lbs of gear and it would be impossible for me to take another set after the ceremony.
Brooke can zip through my shot list while I focus on the wedding couples.
Ace up my sleeve
Having a second photographer allows me to take my time to photograph they key moments while my second photographs guests.
Switch Lead Dynamics
I can give my second control when I need to switch in between events. For example, I'll let my second take over while I set up for the ceremony.
As a lead photographer, I give directions to them more than the discussed shot list. Scouting the location and finding beautiful light can make the difference in the world.
"These are absolutely beautiful :) We will treasure them forever!!"
Anna and Jess
Wedding, Fashion and Lifestyle Photographer
My name is Glenn
And right beside me is my second photographer Brooke who did an amazing job second shooting for me at Anna and Jess' wedding. Consider checking out her portfolio at Seabrook Photography.
If you have any questions or would like to book us for your next event, wedding, or family portraits, give us a call whenever!
Vendors that made it happen!
- Nomadic Blooms - firstname.lastname@example.org
- Spoonfed Kitchen - email@example.com
- 3 Cheers Party Rentals - firstname.lastname@example.org
- Joe Caldropoli - email@example.com