I had the pleasure of working with Mary Beth Tyson to cover the wedding of Mary Caroline and David at St. Peters Anglican Church with the reception following at the Old Florida Historic Capitol. Despite our not being allowed to photograph the actual ceremony, it was beautifully done and the reception that followed was a blast! Working with Mary Beth was a real treat in that I always appreciate working with other photographers to try to better my craft. No matter how good or established you think you’ve become, there’s always opportunities to learn from others. This was no exception. Mary Beth has an amazingly creative eye and uses minimal amounts of light to her advantage. Take a moment to visit her blog here to see more of her images from the day as well.
If you get the opportunity to assist, or even 2nd shoot, for another photographer you should definitely take advantage of it. As I mentioned, there’s always lessons to take away from it (whether you’re the assistant or the one being assisted). To begin, know your role. If you’re asked to “assist”, it usually means you’ll be there to assist the prime photographer with the logistics, their gear, the timeline, etc. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be there to shoot and/or capture images for your own portfolio. If you’re asked to “second shoot”, this typically means that the prime photographer’s contract is large enough to warrant a second photographer to provide images from additional angles or to work in conjunction with the primary photographer to help keep within the designated timeline (you should still fulfill the duties of an “assistant” as well, however). The point here is to know what the primary photographer expects of you. You’ve either been invited or hired by the primary to provide a service, so make sure you’re providing it.
If you second shoot for a photographer, ask what they expect from you. Is there a certain amount of images they want or need? Should you be working with the groom while they’re working with the bride? Are you only expected to provide additional angles? These are the types of questions that should be asked prior to your working with another photographer. And most certainly, you never want to “steal” an image from the main photographer. That’s to say that you are there for “color commentary” and not necessarily for the “lead anchor” role. Always let your subjects know that their focus should be on the primary photographer. But at a minimum, make sure that you fully assist the primary photographer. Help them with logistics, ensuring they are where they need to be at all times, getting their gear (lenses, bags, etc.) to the proper places, helping maintain the timeline, corralling family members for formal portraits, supplying water or food when needed, and generally just offering good company and an ear to listen. This is an opportunity to learn and be helpful…try to make sure you accomplish both!
And since you’ve stayed with me this long through my impromtu “How to be a great assistant/2nd shooter” lesson, here’s a few images I captured from Mary Caroline and David’s day. Enjoy!