The Art of Being a Second Shooter


The Art of Being a Second Shooter


Lesson Info

Wedding Day Schedule

There are times when the wedding date gets really busy and j d and I will not see each other for long periods of time. Yesterday in the facebook group I was reading that some people kind of assumed that jd and I shot everything together as a point of clarification we do separate at certain portions of the day given a certain timeline and this is not a hard and fast rule, right? I mean we just here alone in our audience everybody here does it differently so yes, so typically we will shoot together but if this venue is massive which we have shot it in a very large resorts and we're at opposite ends, it does not make sense for us to try to be with each other. Um if the groom is preparing at a different venue, we will separate from each other, but we clarify to the client that whoever as dropped off first, which is usually me jd was dropped me off to hang out with the bride that is when our collections begin that's when our eight hour collection begins and so if it takes jd thirty minutes ...

to get to the groom prep that still within his billable hours and I'm acting like I'm a lawyer but billable hours what lawyers use but so that that's when he start so he technically that drive time is still within our eight hour rome or sometimes we just know going in that is going to be such a high impact, crazy day that I'm like, we need to plan out where you're going to be and where I'm going to be just so that there's never any questions. So for instance, um when we get to venue, we will walk around the the entire premise of the building. So yesterday we said we arrived, we leave about an hour and a half early from our home to get to venue, we will get a quick bite to eat, and then what we do is we walk onto the venue premises and we will establish what we would call as environmental shots, so we will kind of if we're shooting a coastal wedding, which is very typical for being southern california photographers we get there, we walked the venue, I asked janey to take very simple pictures like pictures of the sign of the venue, but we also want the coastline. So for instance, the photo that's used on this display this was taken earlier this year at a wedding of a couple who got married in manhattan beach. They own a home right on the strand, and so I was preparing with the girls in a really small area and the guy said, don't worry about it, we'll meet there at the church, so jd was just kicking it outside, I told him it's a really small space and lots of girls I can handle this so you can just chill so what he did is he went outside and took just ambient shots of where they lived because these pictures start telling the story from a different perspective if we could start a slideshow setting the scene so that the viewer can be taken from beginning middle and end it stronger than just starting out with the bride getting her dress on that's fine, but where is she getting that dress on? Like yesterday I was so mad that I didn't get a sign of the sotto park because that right there or of those blasted trains right, like so if that was then the beginning of the story, the viewer can then go and say, oh, trains played a part of it there at sotto park and here is the bride getting ready those types of things are what I really would appreciate my second shooter to get because I usually have more time to photograph the bride grooms don't take as much time so I don't want j t just hanging out in a room just kind of waiting, taking pictures that may or may not move the story of the day forward, so if we're shooting along the coast a couple ideas would be signs of the venue architectural elements of the venue, the ocean a close up of the sand a beach chair no if there's a beach chair I just don't want him taking a picture of a beach chair I want him to stylized beached here so that it looks a little bit more artistic so that later on he decide to do a dip dick of the bride getting ready next to a beach chair it then kind of parlays into that editorial feel not like oh this is sitting on your front porch yeah, I just I remember when jasmine I take environmental elements and she said, did you just take pictures of stuff that was just laying around and I would say yeah, isn't that what you met and she would be like, you know, you have to actually like crab move him around put him in places that are really nice and I was like, okay, uh, you know, I'll get on it because I remember I was just like, you know, for me environmental elements was everything I always thought it was things in their natural state s so, um okay, so well, things like in their natural state might not be specific to the wedding, they definitely help tell the story, so this all goes back down to basically understanding this schedule of the day because once we've walked the perimeter, what we've established is where we're going to be what he's going to be doing? Because again like yesterday the etiquette we don't want to be on our phone, I just need to know implicitly if I tell you to be there at three, you're going to be there at three, so those are the things that we want to move forward so, um next we arrive early to walk the premises now during this time, what will do is we are going to create what we call a photo map so for example, we get there, we valet the car usually there's valet so well valet the car, we have all of our gear and we're walking on the premises simply just getting a feel and a vibe for what's going on, so this requires you to actually get the the venue a lot earlier we always make sure so we're always there pretty early, but this takes probably like fifteen, twenty minutes, fifteen, twenty minutes and what we're going to do during this time is planned out the events of the day, so we walked through and then we kind of convene and we say, ok, this is where the first look is going to be because he has found out the prettiest light and it's not highly trafficked, but after that what we're also going to do is going to create a plan b because we have shot at men use words like okay this is where the first look's gonna be and then like the you know the housekeeper's out there with her cart or they're a band cane or there's a lot of people there all of a sudden shining superb right on that but that one spot so jd usually will take the groom out five minutes early so he'll give me a heads up if I do not hear from jamie then I know we're still in plan a that's where we're going now if for some reason we need to change things and he's with the groom he asked karen please forgive me I need to change a couple things I'm going to step away and contact jasmine so he's letting him know what's going on but other than that we have a plan a plan b and we don't divert from it unless I hear from him specifically now we will also run through the first half of the timeline so remember he packed the itineraries in our bags and sometimes in a pinch if he didn't printed out I'll just take a picture of it on my phone and text it to him worst case scenario again we don't like to look at our phones I'm all about old school papers if you bring that paper you know it's fine but eh so what I'll do then is will outline where are the family photo is going to be taken where are we going to hide or tuck away the bride and groom after the ceremony so guests can leave? Where can they get a bite to eat after the ceremonies that we can take them away for bride and groom pictures? Where can we tell the bridal party to meet? Because what happens is if one there is not a wedding coordinator or to the wedding coordinator is there but she's he or she is not present. The people ask questions too the photographer's so if you're if they ask you where's, the barter party pictures going to be like I don't know in a little bit or somewhere as a second shooter, you're not responsible for that, but it just makes the second shooter makes the business makes you look like a stronger professional save your time also because you don't do that then someone going to say hey, can you go get all the groomsmen that are still up in that room and you could you could easily just said, you know portrait will be taking it this time ten minutes after the first look outside of portico to and so you start feeding that is people and it saves your time on the timeline now it's also important to know what the first shooter wants from you at different portions of the day so yesterday I think that you all saw jd help me in different capacities that was probably the most stressful and when the most stressful on I have to do a lot. He takes on the role at the second shooter and assistant, so there are some second shooters who say that's that's above my pay grade like I'm not gonna do that and that's fine, but when we walked through the timeline, he knows when he's one hundred percent second shooter and then he knows when he should take on a few assisting elements just to make the day move faster. If I'm sorry. Yes, yesterday there was very little detail there's I'm not very a few tables, so there was just one cocktail table or are you no one won the reception table if we walk into a wedding and there are just hundreds of details, I know that the lighting isn't going to be getting jasmine her light, and getting things set up isn't my top priority. It's getting all the details for jasmine because jasmine can't cover them all on her own great so but that comes down that comes down to this point is knowing what I want because sometimes the room is like cavernous and so dark that I'm like. I can't shoot me I can't even see the table in front of me so I don't need you shooting details because I can't lift them even in raw you're shooting wide open what I need is for you to find different light hold video light so he needs to check in with me before we move forward okay so and you guys can tell like this personality right here comes out once a week I hate myself on wedding days okay like I would not want to work with myself but I am like all business like there's no way that my clients are ever going to feel like the ball was dropped so sometimes and just was never turned on me it's never like she was once all of a sudden like she was not so business and then all the sudden it's like what are you doing no like I got it from from wedding one I knew okay this is a business I'm running here but you know at times at times when we were especially early in the business I was just like is that my wife my wife is were you know please nothing this's the section to talk about later today okay? I'm already getting hot about that last point even taking notes is keep the first shooter informed that's definitely what you want to do because there are times in the day where jd will take off and the thing that I need to know hands down is what he's doing, I just don't want to look out and be like, where is he where his, especially during family portrait? I need somebody there just helping me move and expedite things if he says, hey, I'm going to go shoot the reception card details. I don't know why that is such a big deal, but for coordinators, for venues for brides, if you want to get published, it's, like those escort cards are like number one creme de la creme on. I'm like these are pieces of paper, however, the photos don't work the minute the guests start taking them. And so even if you try to reassemble them, it looks like a poor job at reassembling. So during this time before guests during cocktail hour before they go and get them, he says, hey, are you okay? I'm gonna go out and shoot those and he'll be gone for five minutes. He comes back and we perceive throughout the day, but I just need to know that that's where he is so I can take on one hundred percent of the responsibility. Yeah, and actually that brings up to brings it actually, perfectly for me, what I'm trying to do this entire time is make the first shooters life a lot easier s o what I always do is I'm making sure there's a lot of times in the day where I'm running in advance, there'll be times where jazz all set of jasmine's off camera flash again, this is she's usually doing family formals five minutes three minutes before that and mention this yesterday, I'll run over and set up her flash make sure that all she has to do when she gets into the reception tonight site is put on her mounted flash and ponder pocket wizard pocket wizard, and she can start shooting. So really the ideal situation and this happens often, but when it does happen, it's like this huge relief because I can run from wherever I am walk into the room, he tosses me a flash, I'm walking and shooting, but I s so I've been in there for about two or three minutes, maybe even four and I've already looked at all the tables, and I know which tables are in the best light with the best background so ill go to those tables first, and I'll say, hey, jasmine, this is where we're gonna be starting the shoot and I'll clear all those tables, so from I'll clear them from anything that that makes the boat the table look a little bit more unpleasant, so if you're taking notes and your second shooter and you want to help the first shooter find the table with the best light so if it's by a window orbit has pin lighting coming from the ceiling so that you don't have to use flash those were always my favorite and if you're looking for things to clear from the table what I want to be cleared salt and pepper shakers, bread and butter sugar packets if there is iced tea or water early in our early days guess what I mean weddings would always come with those clear pictures of liquid and you're like no I can't shoot this so make sure that that comes off also table numbers if the bride has had custom made table numbers we leave them if they're just table number's assigned by the hotel just for organizations sake we take them off because it degra gates that so I walk in jd tosses me the flash and he says table twenty one's already been cleared I walk over to table twenty one I started shooting what I need to shoot jd replenishes everything that was on the big thing again I think we mentioned this yesterday what? Once you take everything out you have to put everything back in its order in its place arouse everyone's just like dude, what are they doing like they'll look atyou and actually give you a dirty look so you want to make sure you have everybody on board absolutely any helping everybody out after this after she's done doing that after she she's gotten a lot of the photos done, I'll ask if she needs any additional light and he feels like andi she doesn't then I'll actually excuse myself and run on over to the cocktail hour s o you know jasmine will probably wrap up and still take a few more detailed photos, but I'll go and get candids and an actual I mentioned it yesterday posed photos of cocktail hour plus the candid photos and basically all of this boils down tio what I want my second shooter do is to do the thinking for me because all day I've been doing thinking so that when I walk into a room and things have already been thought of for me it's like my love language, you know it actually is access service, I have the boring ist want jasmine it's not should I go shoot cocktail hour it's more? Um, we're pretty much done here I'm gonna go shoot cocktail hour if you don't need me here in this room and that kind of makes you feel like okay, good go do that that's great as opposed to meet her thinking like, oh, do you have to be if I asked her should go shoot cocktail hour, she'd have to think, did you take care of this video? Field or you don't want you don't want them to think too much you want to do the thinking for them absolutely which leads us to basically this entire section can be boiled down to three things when it comes to scheduling simply let your photographer know what you're doing let them know when you're doing it and why you're doing it if you have to step away for a random photo of three people off on a cliff I'm your first shooters like what is that person doing all the way over there what you should have said was this is the grandmother granddaughter and daughter three generations and they want this sunset photo is it okay if I go get it should be like thank you then you go and do your thing and then you come back it was a great needed photo but if I don't know why you're shooting it it makes me feel like you're due off doing your own thing so do we have any questions before we get into mark actually megan into it later during the reception but what do you guys used to use a speed lighter like a full pack or something while you're in the reception area? Yes we actually so are off camera flashes a pretty simple set up what we do is we have a soft box and it's pretty much if we used the like the sun pack a really low like old school son pack class, we have it, I have the entire breakdown on my block, but at the time when I had bought this flashing, I'm super bummed because they don't make it anymore. It was ninety nine dollars and you can manually set the power of the flash and have it sent set toe one sixteenth of power. So the batteries recycle really fast it's a small pup of light, but once we have that soft box over it, we put it off in the corner outside of a speaker right next to the deejay. So because, you know, the speakers are usually something that are kind of, you know, you can actually hide yourself box back there, so it doesn't it's not so people won't see as much. So basically, it is a really low powered flash on a tripod with a soft box triggered by a power by a pocket wizard that I have mounted to the bottom of my camera so I could still keep my mounted flash and the other pocket wizard is triggering from the off camera flash so it's pretty is rigged ghetto fabulously, but we love it, we love it and it travels well it's really small, so we travel a lot for a wedding, so we take it with us wherever we go fits in a carry on yes. Do you ever do venu visits before the actual day? Or do you usually go, like the hour hour and a half before that's a good question. So I get that I'll actually a lot. I want you to answer, though, too. Oh, yeah, no, go ahead. You can start all answered from a client's perspective. So in the beginning, clients with taking you are you willing to go to the venue before? And I have to think about this from a business perspective. The more hours I spend with a client doing outside of what my collection costs that's hitting my my bottom line in guards to profitability. So I'm not getting paid for driving forty minutes to the venue forty minutes back, walking another forty minutes so that my per hour rate on that wedding went down and compared to the other weddings. So and outside of that we have clients that we shoot a lot of destination weddings for. So what I say is, if you want me to do that, then you walk through. I will actually get to your wedding an hour early and partly why I would do that is because of the time of the year. Changes things the time of your wedding changes things construction around the site changes things so if I viewed your site in october it's going to look very different than the following july but don't worry we'll get there early and we'll make sure that you're well taken care of you know what were you going to say? No, I was gonna say the same thing you know, I usually happens when we're shooting destination weddings because it's a new location and we always do wear a lot of times we'll go but it's usually the day off an hour before so it was I was gonna say the same thing really? I just said it longer. Yes, I'm just going back to the being prepared for the wedding day and getting all the equipment ready. I'm wondering do you guys shoot a bunch of eight gig cf cards? Sixteen gigs have cars air like a few sixty four's or do you think you can answer it? Yeah, well, way shoot with a lot of four gigs we have won eight gig that jasmine loves during using during ceremony during the ceremony time, I guess and other than that we weigh always use for gig carling is my personality, I'm a warrior, I see people shooting with sixty four and I'm just like, oh my god, that is all your eggs in one basket boo like your eyes because you don't ever have to stop or deal with great and I did it and I understand it totally, but I would rather just take those couple of seconds and we have a lot of four gig, so every time there's a break or four with the bride and groom and we're walking from one location to the other j d and I will give each other look and we're swapping out our cards so that our clients are none the wiser. No, they're not knowing how frequently were changing them out, but if you know god forbid something happens to a four gig, I'm going to be less hurt than something happening to like a sixteen gig or sixty four ah and agrees asked, where is the line between assistant and second shooter? You talked about him kind of doing both do you have an assistant to or only second shooter that also assists? And then other question came in from joe and amber joy and amber with an assistant? Would it be jasmine r j t giving the direction or would it be both of you? We'll join amber came to restart, so shout out to join amber um, I think this really boils down teo having clarification again, you're going to hear us say that communication word a thousand times because different first shooters need different things and it's not a matter of where is the line between first shooter and second shooter it's what does that first shooter want and are you okay as a second shooter to oblige by that now jane I for six and a half years shot just the two of us sometime last year I had some medical considerations that I had to take care of and the doctor suggested that I bring somebody on so we had to make a business decision so we decided to take on a photo intern and all she did was carry our bags now since then she's trying through and it was jasmine's bag that she actually or she has her three primary lenses that she's using throughout the day so whenever she need to swap a lens out the assistant would be their toe hand it over to her so it was that's what exactly what we were using our photo intern for but jd still did the things that an assistant would normally do like carry the bags I wouldn't have her carried our seventy pound bag it's really a super happy twenty one years old do it but I would like, you know it's a whole different I think you know I don't even like carrying that bag it's really heavy so but again defining there isn't people are asking people I think want a hard and fast answer to come from somebody in the field to say second photographer should never assist listen, if you're going to second shit with me, I'm going to need assisting at some point if you don't like it, then we're probably not a good fit and who gives the direction to the assistant ideo as the first? Yes, yes when you're setting out this in the very beginning when you're setting up like day of schedule and the bridegroom is like I have no idea what I want from a first look point of view well, you then say, do you guys have like, a go to structure where you'll say you like this way of setting up because of your experience or what you like doing from a flow point of view? Absolutely absolutely so one that was a great question and I don't ask my clients how they wanted to unfold. I ask if they have a certain location because sometimes especially talking to a bride on the wedding day and making her answer more questions and giving her more decisions can be overwhelming. So the only consideration I want to take is was there a special spot here around site that you really loved? He could've proposed there his her parents got married there whatever on dh if she says no like great what we went through a few locations if you're ok to leave it up to us, we'd love to have you go and meet jonathan at three and she's, like, perfect, I trust you guys. So then we know we're just on base. When we first started doing first looks the first two times I had the bride waiting for the groom, and in retrospect, brides actually wanted to come to the groom, and I learned that I learned that sort of a trial on air and didn't ruin anything. No, but it wasn't until people online are like, oh, that's, so funny that the bride went that the groom went to the bride and I was like, really, you're right, it is funny. So that was just a trial in air? Yes, we're gonna do one more studio audience. We have a q and a after this section, so just so that we're trending, but I actually love this conversation. So yes, this goes back to the reception lighting. I know your natural light photographers, but how did you practice the reception? Lighting was at all on the job. Second shooting? Or did you practice at home in the dark or, you know, how did you work with flashes and stuff? Um, I would use our dinner table we had, uh I mean, you guys is yesterday you picked up a little bit of slack for, like, some of the photography tips that I was sharing in people like lightning bugs that's so ridiculous, and I was like, yo, it worked for me like, you might think, it's a joke, and guess what the other people were just like, I don't know if giving standards of, you know, shooting and brights on, uh, you know, the twenty, eight hundred shutter speed is good, I was like, it might not be the best, but that's all I had to work with, I didn't go to school, so when you talk about practicing, I would set up, like, just before dinner, if we had, like, candlelight or if we just had, you know, the tungsten lighting, I would bring out my camera and shoot, um, you know, at a f two point eight, because that was his wide as my legs could go at the time, and then I would push my s o and I would see ok, now it's too greeny. Then I would put on my flash and practice, like bouncing off a wall, bouncing off the ceiling, using a flash directly at a table, because sometimes you need to it's so dark, but when that would happen, I would have j hold a video light, so it wasn't just one a strong light source. It was kind of counterbalanced by a few other things, and we did bring our video light, so he'll show you how they illuminate a table. But if you're just starting out and investing in another flash and a diffuser, um, a soft box and a tripod is a bit much, starting off with a video light and having a second shooter hold it for you is a great option and it's, easier to learn.

Class Description

If you're an established second shooter or looking to become one, this course focuses on ways to strengthen your portfolio, be proactive, improve shooting technique, establish the terms of shooting agreements, become a vital asset to the wedding day, and learn how to book jobs. In addition to lots of content, conversations, and fun, a live shoot will demonstrate the first/second shooter dynamic and a portfolio review.