Recently, I’ve gotten a few emails and Facebook messages asking me (me? say what?) for advice on how to get started photographing weddings professionally. First of all, let me just say this is incredibly flattering that anyone would ask me this – I am a baby in the world of wedding photography and can only attribute current success to the blessing of God on my life and some super amazing, wonderful, gracious, and truly kindred spirits I’ve discovered in this wedding photography world who have been willing to take my hand and guide me along the way. But, still, ask they have – so here’s my biggest tip: SECOND SHOOT!
First off, second (or even third) shooting a wedding is a great way to experience the wedding photography atmosphere without the (extreme) pressure of being the lead photographer. In essence, it’s wedding photography from the backseat. Relax. Watch. Learn. Shoot. Practice. Grow.
It’s the single greatest hands-on learning experience you can get in my opinion.
When I first started out, I third shot weddings for free as an assistant just to learn. I was too new and inexperienced to have any business charging people – whether a bride or another photographer – any money for my work yet. I needed to watch and learn, even if it meant driving an average of two to three hours away from my home to spend my entire Saturday (while I was still working a regular job) just to get that experience. To me, it was worth it, and I wanted to learn badly enough to make that sacrifice. Personally, I am the sort who learns best from hands-on experiences, so third shooting was extraordinarily helpful to me, and I only third shot a few weddings before I launched into second shooting. I like to think I’m a fairly quick learner and pretty determined when I set my mind to something.
Second shooting is (typically) a paid position where you assist the lead photographer throughout the wedding day. Often, as a second, you’re even able to keep a few of the images you shoot for your portfolio (provided that you credit the lead and follow rules outlined in your second shooting contract with them). It’s a fantastic way to learn without having the pressure of being lead, but even as a seasoned professional, it’s a great way to do what you love (shoot pretty weddings! yay!) without nearly close to workload or stress of the lead. It’s a vital job and as (now) a lead photographer in my own business, I can attest to the fact that having a great second shooter you can count on is THE BEST. I love love love my second shooters and am so grateful to them!!!! They are lifesavers.
One of the talented photographers I got the honor of second shooting for several times this past year was the gorgeous Brittany Bekas of Brittany Bekas Photography. First off, this girl is awesome and has turned into a dear friend. Second, she has taught me so much in allowing me to second shoot for her. I can’t say thank you enough, Brit! The images below were second shot with Brittany this past fall at one of the prettiest weddings I’ve ever gotten to witness. Oh, and did I mention it had fireworks? Like real ones. Pretty cool.
// All images second shot for Brittany Bekas Photo //