Wedding Photographer Assistant Tips

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second wedding photographer

Photo captured by Tatiana Garanina (Click Image to See More From Tatiana Garanina)

Before I go into what the requirements are on the wedding day from a second photographer, it would be a good idea to think about what should be considered before the day.

First things first, you may be someone who is trying to get work as a second photographer to get started in the industry before launching into a wedding as a lead photographer.

This can often be difficult so be prepared to travel to an area outside what would be considered your territory. Photographers are business people and are always wary of training a competitor, but they may also be looking for a regular second who they can trust and work with.

Find out about the principal photographer’s style. The main photographer will have been booked based on things such as style of images, personality and customer service. So it would be sensible to find out a bit about the lead. Find out their dress code and be respectful of it even if it is not your normal dress code. Prepare your equipment, make sure it is clean, batteries charged, cards formatted if using your own and find out if the principal photographer requires your cameras time to be synchronized.

So on the day, make sure you are very punctual, fairly obvious really, but if it is somewhere you haven’t been before do a bit of preparation to know the area. Google street mapping is often a useful tool for research and during my time as a wedding photographer in Lancashire, it has proven to be invaluable. Then comes the time meeting the wedding party for the first time. Be confident, polite and respectful to everyone, including other vendors that are part of the day. You may be thinking this is all obvious, but little things can often be forgotten when nerves and pressure kick in.

Now we come to the working side of the day and I will break these down to bullet points. There may be other things that can be added to the list, but these are the ones that I consider important.

Important Tasks to Consider:

  • Be an assistant to the main photographer. Running errands, gathering guests for groups, moving kit around, watching kit, hold reflectors, flashes, video lights and generally any task that is asked of you.
  • Get the shots you are asked to get and inform the lead when you have them.
  • Take the camera away from your eyes and look around for the reportage shots, kids playing, different angles that can make a shot look natural and details that the main photographer may not see.
  • Watch for things that the main photographer may miss, background distractions is one example.
  • Get detail shots that may be of use for album design as background images.
wedding photographer assistant

"Karina & Roman" captured by Elena Zotova (Click Image to See More From Elena Zotova)

  • Be prepared to take the lead in the event of main photographer having to break away. This may be the scary part, but act with confidence and it will be fine.
  • Be aware of what the main photographers plans are, remind him/her if you think something has been missed. It will be appreciated that you are showing you are thinking about what is happening.
  • Finally for the ‘to do’s, think ahead. If you think the need for a reflector is coming, get it to hand, if you know the need for a tripod is coming, get it and extend the legs in preparation, but most importantly, learn something every time and enjoy it. You will be part of a team so make sure you work that way.

Now For Some of the Do Nots:

  • If you have your own photography business, don’t give out your cards or try and drum up your own business. They are not your clients and that is to be respected at all times.
  • Do not shoot like the paparazzi unless you are specifically told to. The main photographer would rather a smaller set of well executed, high quality shots than a thousand shots taken in the hope of 20% being successful.
  • Do not just shoot over the shoulder of the main photographer to get some portfolio shots unless permission has been gained. It can be very off putting if it hasn’t been discussed. If it has been agreed in advance, then the main photographer will have just to inform clients that some training is taking place.
  • Do not publish images on blogs etc without permission from the main photographer. If permission is given, credit the main photographer. The copyright remains with the photographer/business that you are working for.
  • Do not chew gum, smoke, drink alcohol, swear etc if that is what is requested by the main photographer.
wedding photo

"Olga" captured by Olesia Kliots (Click Image to See More From Olesia Kliots)

So these are just a few of the basic things to be considered and this list can be added to. So hopefully this may be of help to some and that it will help you to be an asset if you are a second shooter at any time.

About the Author:
Paul Brown produces quality wedding photography in Lancashire and is also a principal wedding photographer with Yorkshire & Lancashire wedding photographer, Mark Pearson Photography.

The 2nd photographer may also need to take over if the lead photographer has an urgent issue or emergency come up. Such as in this case where the primary photographer was caught off guard by a fountain: :)

Good luck and have fun.

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  1. Joel Skingle says:

    Fantastic post paul.As a wedding photographer I know that a great assistant is worth their weight in gold! Some of the tips on here ring so true if only all assistants were to read this! Especially the don’t give out your own cards. Love it well done

  2. Great article…. good job!

    We reposted this on the PUG wall for the Tampa PUG.

    If you would ever like to speak at our group in Tampa, FL let us know.


  3. Celeste says:

    I just finished my first wedding season as a second shooter. I loved it and had a great rapport with the main shooter.

    While her photos are definitely more important than mine, there were a number of instances where my shots were better than hers and she had no qualms telling me about them. And that was just because I I had a better angle. Last Saturday, I had the most amazing golden light from where I was standing. Instead of setting her gear up, she just directed everyone to stand exactly where I wanted them and let me shoot the entire sequence. She actually trusted me to deliver and make her look good, too. :)

    So now she’s started booking weddings for as far as 2014 with me on board as her second photographer.

  4. Rebecca says:

    Great post, yes all second shooters should read this. Also interesting for photographers looking at taking on a second shooter when agreeing rules etc Thanks a lot.

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