In the wedding photography industry, "second shooter" is a term that refers to having a second photographer at a wedding. It's a great way to capture two viewpoints of the day's events as they unfold, have a photographer in two places at the same time when things are happening simultaneously in different locations, and to incorporate a wider range of artistic styles in the images the couple will have to remember their wedding day in photographs.
Most of the time, if you see images with my watermark on them, I was the primary photographer, and I generally have my own assistant along doing the second shooting/assisting. But every now and then I get the chance to be the second shooter for another photographer and her wedding clients, and I jump at the chance! I love the opportunity to gain a fresh perspective, to photograph in different venues, and to work with a colleague ... who often (if not already) quickly becomes a friend. And in an industry that pits many photographers against each other as competitors, and in a profession that is usually quite solitary, the friendship of photographer colleagues is a wonderful thing!
When I am the second shooter, I often get to work with the groom and groomsmen capturing images of them getting ready or just hanging out prior to the wedding and blowing off a little nervous energy while the primary photographer photographs the bride and bridesmaids getting dressed and ready for the ceremony. For the processional, I get to be in back and witness those last moments between a bride and her father before they walk up the aisle and he gives her to her groom to become a married woman. During the ceremony, I get to shoot different angles ... the peripherals, if you will ... wide shots from the balcony of the church or candids of guests watching the ceremony or a second viewpoint during the exchange of vows and rings.
Afterward, for group images of the family with the bride and groom, I get to assist ... helping to set up group shots and move people around for a pleasing composition, adjusting the bride's train, and looking for the little details we want to tweak to get the best images possible, while the primary photographer actually takes those photographs. Occasionally, the primary shooter asks me to take the actual photographs while she sets things up exactly the way she wants them. Of course, I help carry equipment and set up lights and watch the time to keep us on schedule. I love being in the role of helper and sometimes actually feel like I'm not sure what to do with my hands if I don't actually have a camera in them myself. But it's a great chance to view wedding photography from another perspective. And I love the feeling of being part of a team. And one of the best parts: I often learn new things that make me a better photographer or more effective at my own weddings! I also enjoy sharing my ideas for shots, since during this hectic time, I have a little less stress and more of an opportunity to look around and imagine new possibilities. Collaboration is a wonderful thing. As photographers, those of us who embrace collaboration over competition find ourselves in a wonderful place as artists and expand our own vision tenfold.
Once we get to photographing the wedding party and the bride and groom by themselves, second shooting is a great chance to capture unique angles or photographs that wouldn't be possible without a second camera. It's a really rushed and busy time trying to get a ton of great images in a short timeframe, but these photos are usually some of the most beautiful shots of the day and often the ones that get hung on the wall in the couple's home. I love being able to get a fresh perspective during this time! Ideas abound, two photographers often collaborate on ideas, and with two cameras firing, we get a great selection of images for the couple -- images the couple will cherish forever! And did I mention it's just plain fun?
At every step of the wedding day, as second shooter I get to step outside the pressure of being primary to see the day in a fresh, new way. I see and photograph little details for the couple's wedding album. I look for expressions on other faces (besides the bride and groom) and see the magic of the moment reflected there, and sometimes I get to photograph those expressions. I watch another photographer's creative process unfold. It's a great opportunity!
All of the images you see in this post are images I photographed as a second shooter at two weddings last summer (I am finally catching up on blog posts!) ... the wedding of Josh & Jodi Selig with Kristyn Skinner of Spotlight Studios in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, and the wedding of Thomas & Andrea Franke with Laura Schmitt Hiller of Laura Schmitt Photography. Both of these beautiful women have awesome husbands who are normally their second photographers at weddings, but for one reason or another, they had to be somewhere else on these particular dates, and I was blessed with the opportunity to stand in for them and photograph with these two very talented photographers. Thank you for the opportunity, ladies!
I was particularly "over the moon" thrilled to be able to photograph a wedding couple at the County Fair along with Kristyn ... and to find out that they shut down the Ferris wheel for 20 minutes to allow the wedding party to ride and be photographed exclusively on their wedding day. Now how incredibly awesome is that!??! And that opportunity added some very cool images to my portfolio! Thank you, Kristyn!
And to Laura ... thank you for allowing me to shoot with you again, this time at the beautiful St. Mary's church in Marathon. What a majestic and gorgeous church! My own aunt and uncle were married at St. Mary's many years ago, and I have been a guest at other family weddings there, but this is the first time I had the opportunity to photograph a wedding there. What a great experience! Thank you, Laura!
Basking in the glow of weddings and collaboration,