The Craft of Capturing Candids: How the second shooter brings a wedding portrait gallery to life.

December 23, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

Being a wedding photographer is so much more than showing up on the day of the wedding and taking pictures.  There is much preparation that takes place in order to be sure that you are properly documenting the events and capturing the desired portraits on their special day.  Every couple is unique and their needs will be unique.  There are no "do-overs," so you either get it the first time or you don't.  You can't ask the Father of the Bride to make that adoring expression again.  You can't ask the Bride and Groom to go back up there and do the first kiss over again.  You can't put the cake back together and cut it again.  You must be prepared to be at the right location with your equipment functioning and in the proper settings with needed supplies at your fingertips.  This is why having a second shooter and assistant to support my efforts is so crucial.  Preparing them with a detailed agenda for the day makes them better equipped to fill their roles.  With specific times and lists of the shots I need to capture at each step in that agenda, they can help to make it all happen.

My Assistant - Chris

Meet Chris.  He was my assistant for Samantha and Steve's beautiful wedding.  He was integral to the process as he helped to carry equipment from one location to the next.  He had a thorough understanding of the layout of my camera bags so that he could quickly produce flashes, fresh batteries and memory cards for either camera.  He knew my labeling system and didn't require my specific directions to meet our needs.  His height was quite beneficial as he was also the one holding the reflector at just the right angle to take advantage of the best light.

My Second Shooter - Victoria

This is my second shooter, Victoria, who captured the shots that I could not and really helped to tell the whole story from Samantha and Steve's special day.  Her preparation included a coordination of the kinds of shots I wanted her to capture, a choreography of where we each needed to be during the ceremony, and collaboration on the camera settings that I wanted her to use for each application.  It certainly helps that Victoria has an artistic eye and her attention to detail is needed to properly assist me in setting up my bridal party for portraits.  Justifying the value of a second shooter, such as Victoria, is best achieved by showcasing some of the results. 

Candid created from a different angle

One of the goals for a second shooter can be to capture different angles of the portraits.  While I am setting them up and getting the traditional portrait with everyone looking at the camera, she can be getting that same shot from a different angle.  The results create a beautiful portrait with a more candid, "in-the-moment" feel.  

Smaller groupings within the larger one

Another goal for my second shooter is to capture smaller groupings of individuals within the larger portrait that I am creating from my angle.  These are priceless and help to offer some great variety without taking any extra time.  Time is a limited commodity on any wedding day, so I am extremely thankful that she can produce these additional portraits.

Capturing genuine emotion

There is so much happening at once throughout the day of a wedding.  The passing expressions or gestures can really help to tell the whole story, but only if they can be captured.  Again, my second shooter is often able to be sneaky and capture those things going on behind my back.  As for Samantha and Steve, they just seemed to be exuding joy, and I love that Victoria was able to catch some of their genuine laughter.  She also captured a very subtle gesture of Steve making sure his new wedding band was properly in place.  I think that is such a sweet little treasure.

Sometimes, you just have to laugh!

 One of the times when my second shooter is most appreciated is when our entire group breaks out in laughter.  That happened on several occasions with Samantha and Steve because they are such a fun couple.  Above, you can see an occasion when we all lost our composure, but fortunately, Victoria was able to document the scene.  It may not be the perfect "portrait," but it certainly is priceless.

Staying inconspicuous as the photographer

Another purpose that the images from my second shooter serves is for me to be able to catch glimpses of myself in the background.  I am not in any way looking to provide my couple with portraits that include me.  I am, however, looking to see how conspicuous I am while doing my job.  Getting the perfect shot during a wedding ceremony and reception requires some finesse.  I need to make sure that I am where the action is, yet do so in a way that I am not noticed.  During the rehearsal, I like to have a conversation with the celebrant to discuss his or her comfort level with my movement during the ceremony, and to learn where I may and may not go.  After Samantha and Steve's ceremony, I asked their celebrant, Pastor Jeff, if my work was in any way distracting.  He said he didn't even realize I was there.  I take that as a great compliment.  

Portraits with emotion.

Finally, my second shooter shares my goal of getting the shots that really show the connections and emotions of the day.  Each couple will bring their own unique flavor to their wedding day, and effectively conveying that through portraits is our ultimate goal.  Along the way, we both find ourselves fixing dresses, inserting veils, pinning boutonnieres, fetching tissues and transporting flowers.  We also can't help but share in the laughter and tears.  

As a wedding photographer, I develop an intimate connection with my couple and their families.  In order to tell their story, I have to become part of it.  Providing couples and families with portraits from their wedding day is such a privilege and a responsibility that I take very seriously.  Knowing that they will be sharing these portraits for many years to come makes me so happy.  

You make the memories; I will help you cherish them.

Love and Smiles,



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