Notes from the Photographers Assistant

Written by admin on March 18th, 2011

Being the second photographer on a wedding shoot has it’s benefits. I get to concentrate more on candids and the wedding guests. I hover around the formal shots getting nice side angles and closeups. It’s  important to get a good shot of the bouquet toss and the garter fling – they happen so fast that you only have a second or two, and it often takes two of you to come up with one good shot of the action.

Here’s my typical  list for second wedding photographer:

Make a checklist for all neccessary equipment and preparation.

Check everything off before starting out.

When you arrive at the venue, scout out some nice locations for pictures. A well lit shaded space is ideal, the background could be anything from a nice wall, some trees and scenery, or a dramatic door or window structure. Stairs and low walls come in handy for posing small groups.

Introduce myself to the groom and his party and get some shots of them getting ready. If they have not yet arrived, get a record of them arriving.

Find the wedding planner/organizer person, and check in with them to get a better idea of the order of preparation and ceremony.

Get some shots of the rings in the hands of the groom or best man.

Shoot the wedding location before guests have arrived

Grooms parties are usually much less well prepared than the bridal party.  Often, they have all been out drinking far more than they should and have hardly slept in three days. Sometimes the entire party is from up north, where they haven’t seen the sun in three months, and they all fell asleep on the beach and look like lobsters with bright white shadows where their sunglasses were. Bridesmaids would never make this mistake. Everything they have done in the last month is aimed at making them look their best on this day.

Once the grooms party is all assembled it’s time to have some fun with them – but first, make sure that you keep them away from the brides party if required. Stay in close touch with the head photographer, who will be with the bride this whole time.  Take them out to a couple nice locations and shoot the groom by himself, with each of the party, and all of them together.  Ask the groom and the best man if there are any special shots they would like to get.

Of course weddings don’t always go as planned. I have had to jump in the car and fetch the groom a few blocks away or pick up the missing cuff links. Occasionally an important member of the party will be left behind without a ride to the next event – but it’s all par for the course – something goes “wrong” at every wedding, and it often becomes the one thing everyone remembers most fondly.

The main reason I am there is to make life easier for the head photographer so she can get the shots she wants.  It’s usually my job to stage and set up any equipment like camera case, tripods, flashes, extension cords, ladders, etc. What this sometimes means in practice is setting things up once, discovering that they need to be moved right away, taking them down and moving them, realizing that we didn’t actually need them there, but now they need to be set up right back where they started from and doing it all quickly with a big smile ;)

Now for a few examples – these are all right out of the camera, no photoshop…


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