Second Shooter Guide

Something you may not know about me is that while I shoot my own weddings, I also second shoot weddings A LOT. It's a great way to fill my open weekends and I love seeing how other photographers work. Over the past five years, I've shot for 25 different photographers and I've learned so much. But before I knew second shooter etiquette, I messed up. I posted on social media before the primary photographer had delivered the gallery, I tried to tag the bride in the photos.....I was a textbook bad second shooter those first couple of months, but only because no one told me what was right and what was wrong! So learn from my mistakes. I'm laying it all out for you right now!

Please know that every photographer is different. Some may be super laidback and not care about some of these points, but others may be stricter and care a whole lot. These are general guidelines that are mostly universal in the wedding photography world.

Second shot for Rosalie Marion

Second shot for Rosalie Marion

1. You are there for the primary photographer.

Don't hand out your business cards. Don't even mention your business at all. I often get asked by guests what my company is, or some kind of similar question, and I usually just say something like, "Oh, I'm the assistant! That over there is the main photographer, her company is called xyz". I try to get a couple of business cards from the primary at the beginning of the day, so when someone asks me for a card I can have one on hand.

2. Don't add the clients on social media.

Don't tag them, don't message them, don't "like" their photos. Every once in a while, I'll have the bride or groom of a wedding I second shot somehow find me and request to be my friend on Facebook or follow me on Instagram. In this case, I'll ask the primary photographer what they want me to do. Again, you are there to help the primary photographer, and the relationship building should be left to them.

3. Don't post on social media until the primary has delivered the gallery.

And actually, check with the primary photographer to make sure they even allow you to post, as some don't. If they don't allow you to use the images, I believe you should be compensated more, but again - everyone is different. Make sure to double check with the primary before you post that they've delivered the final gallery, and be sure you know exactly how you can use your images. Sometimes you can only use them in your website portfolio, sometimes primary photographers will even let you blog them.

Second shot for Erin Turner

Second shot for Erin Turner

4. Be detail-oriented.

The primary's job is to photograph the big stuff. Your job is to fill the spaces in between. Get those candids during family formals. Be on the lookout for hairties on the bridesmaids' wrists or phones, wallets, and keys in the groomsmen's pockets. Make sure the primary doesn't leave their bag somewhere - grab it for them! Make sure they stay hydrated. Offer to time-sync the cameras before you start shooting. Carry the bride's train and help fluff it. Memorize as much of the timeline as you can. Think of all the little things and handle them so that the primary can focus on the big picture! Pun definitely intended.

5. Study their work.

Spend some time looking through the primary's Instagram and website. Learn their shooting style, while also implementing your own style. The great thing about hiring a second shooter is bringing a different set of eyes and knowledge to the table, so don't feel like you have to become a clone and compromise your own unique style. Some questions I usually ask a primary I haven't worked with before are: What aperture range are you comfortable with? Do you shoot more under or overexposed? Do you use flash during receptions? And if you do - do you drag the shutter or bounce the flash (and if you're going to be second shooting often, you should know how to do both!) Shooting closer to their style means an easier editing process for them.

Pay attention to what lenses they use throughout the day. If they have an 85mm on, then you can pop on a more wide-angle lens, or vice versa. And get different angles! Don't shoot over their shoulder - the only exception is with film shooters where they do actually need the exact same shot on digital in case something happens to the film, but most photographers shoot digital, so don't worry about it unless they say something! During bridal party photos, stand to the side and get the little details of the bouquets, or close-ups of each individual member (with a long lens of course! Don't step in front of the primary!).

6. Let's talk about cocktail hour!

As a second shooter, you'll often be expected to cover cocktail hour and reception decor by yourself. These are sometimes the only photos the primary will get of the reception decor, so take it seriously! Sometimes the primary will ask me to duck out of the ceremony early so I can get detail shots of the reception room before guests start filtering in. I have to work the room quickly, so my process usually looks something like this: take several wide shots of the whole room, take photos of signage and gift/guestbook/other misc. tables, take a photo of the bar, take photos of the centerpieces and decor on the dinner tables, take photos of the buffet, and finally, take any other detail photos. Then as guests begin to arrive, I'll find the kitchen and stop the servers bringing out hors d'oeuvres for a quick photo while the tray is still full and fresh. As the room fills up, I walk around the area several times and try to get a candid photo of each guest, or I'll ask them to smile and look at the camera (smarter to do this now before everyone is drunk ;)). Be sure to get close-ups with a longer lens so guests don't become awkward or feel like you're intruding.

Second shot for John Myers

Second shot for John Myers

7. Other miscellaneous things to remember!

Dress professionally. My go-to wedding outfits are black dresses or black pants and a blouse. Your professionalism all comes back to the primary - so be nice and helpful and fun to be around!

Don't delete images. Everyone takes bad photos, even the professionals, but DON'T DO IT. RAW photos can be saved, especially if it's an important moment. This is just a good practice anyway since deleting photos from your cards can actually corrupt them! The proper way to clear cards is to format them.

Shoot RAW! I'm sure you do anyway, but I've made the mistake before of assuming that a new second shooter I've hired is shooting in RAW, only to find out in the middle of the wedding day that they've been shooting JPEG.

Stay off of your phone in front of guests! This is just common sense, right?

When posting shots you took for the primary, ALWAYS include credit for the primary photographer. Something simple like "second shot for @thisperson" is just fine.

Be confident in front of the client, even if you're new and still learning. It's completely okay to ask the primary photographer technical questions, but ask them when you're away from clients and guests.

8. Tips for Primaries

If you're a primary shooter and have never second shot, here's some advice from the other side. ;)

Make sure you are upfront with how many hours the second shooter will be there and how much they will be paid. 

I've worked a couple 14 hour days as a second shooter. They paid well, but there is no reason you need a second shooter that long. There's no reason you need a PRIMARY shooter that long, but that's a different topic. In general, you only need a second shooter from about 30-60 minutes before the First Look to get groomsmen getting ready photos to after the first dances, toasts, and cake cutting. Although, sometimes it's good to have a second shooter stay til the exit so you can trade taking breaks and covering the reception!

If you can bring a laptop and dump all the second shooter's files on it at the end of the night, I've found that's always the best method! Or, if your second shooter shoots with a dual-slot camera, just give them one of your cards and get it back from them at the end of the night!

The next best method is to take the second shooter's card home with you and mail it back or meet up with them to give it back. I shoot in Nashville a lot, so most times the primary will just mail it back to me. Ideally you'll mail it back the following Monday. Remember to tape the card onto a note or piece of paper and then stick it in an envelope. Unfortunately I've had envelopes rip and my SD card fell out in the mail, so now I tell everyone to make sure they tape it!

If you're confident in them, give the second shooter some free reign. Let them style a detail shot or let them take over posing for a couple minutes!

Hope this helps! Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments!

5 Ways You Can Travel More This Year

Hi friends!

If you follow me on social media, you already know that my husband and I love to travel. We usually have at least one trip on the calendar per month, even if it's just driving to the mountains for the weekend. I'm one of those people that NEVER traveled until I reached my 20's - and once the travel bug bites you there's no cure (I'm pretty happy about it though). I go a little stir-crazy if I'm stuck at home for more than about 6 weeks. Here's the kicker - more than half of our trips cost us little to nothing, which is how we are able to do it so much!

I want to help everyone see more of the world, so I've put together this handy dandy blog for you to reference back to when you start planning your travels!

how to travel more

Credit Cards

Nope, I don't mean you should charge everything to your credit card and go into debt. If you're a millennial like me, you grew up with adults telling you to never ever get a credit card because they are scary and will eat all your money. But if you are still using cash or a debit card to pay for your stuff, you are LITERALLY leaving money on the table. I currently have a few hundred dollars sitting in my Chase account that I could take out if I wanted, but I'm saving it for free flights of course! ;) This is money that a credit card gave to me for signing up (sign-up bonuses are the best!) and spending money on things I would have bought anyway. 

The credit cards we currently use are the Chase Sapphire Preferred card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve card. These cards allow us to use our cashback rewards for free flights and hotels. You can read about their long list of benefits here and here. The Reserve card is a favorite of many travelers. Just a few perks - they pay for your TSA pre-check, $300 travel reimbursement each year, free travel insurance, free rental car insurance (which we ended up having to use in Iceland when we popped a tire!), access to airport lounges, no foreign transaction fees....the list goes on. It does have a pretty hefty annual fee of $450, but with the $300 reimbursement, it's very reasonable if you travel a lot! Since most of these perks cover both of us, we don't need to double up on them. So I use the Preferred card, which has an annual fee of only $95 but still builds points fairly quickly. Then I transfer the points to Brad's account because they're worth more with his card! Easy peasy.

As long as you're responsible with money, credit cards are a great way to travel for free. I don't condone using your credit card to pay for things that you don't have the money for! We've never paid interest on a credit card, and we pay everything off immediately!

how to travel more

But not every flight is better free!

Depending on the airline, most miles are worth about $0.015, or 1.5 cents. You can use this information to determine if you would be better off to buy the ticket or use your precious points by dividing the price of the ticket by the number of points a ticket can be purchased for. So the equation looks like this:

Price of Ticket/# of Points Redeemed

If the answer is higher than about 1.4 or 1.5 (again, different airline points are worth different dollar amounts - check the internet for specific airlines), then you should use your points. If it's lower, it's worth it for you to save your points for another day and pay for this flight yourself. Here's an example: say you want to fly to Arizona and the ticket price is $500,  OR you can use 30,000 points. You'd plug in $500/30,000 points. This equals 0.016, or 1.6 cents, so it's a slightly better deal to use your points. If the points required were raised to 40,000, the result would be about 1.2 cents. In this case, it's better to just pay $500 if you can.


Take Advantage of Weekends and Holidays

Brad gets 10 days of vacation time off every year. TEN. But in 2016 we spent 55 days traveling, and in 2017 we spent 53 days traveling. A large chunk of that was business trips (more on that in a bit), and the other chunk is traveling on the weekends and holidays. We usually block off Memorial Day and Labor Day weekend for a trip, and New Year's is always a good holiday to travel too! The past couple of years, New Year's Day has fallen on a Sunday and then a Monday, meaning an extra long weekend to explore a new area!

Most bank holidays fall on a Monday, so if you leave after work on Friday, you can go almost anywhere in the US and have a good trip in that timeframe. A lot of conferences that Brad attends end on a Thursday or Friday, so we can usually extend our trip over the weekend. It all comes down to strategy and planning ahead.

If you get two weeks of vacation each year and you add in the weekends, you have 114 potential days of travel. That's not counting holidays either! It's unreasonable to cram a whole Europe trip in one weekend, but looking ahead at your calendar and seeing how holidays line up can help you nail down a game plan.

travel tips

Save Money Where You Can

A little obvious, but it all comes down to what you value. Brad and I value travel and experiences over material things, so when we first got married, we went to New Zealand for our honeymoon. But because we did that, we ate dinner on the floor every night for MONTHS because we didn't have the money to buy a table! In fact we hardly had any furniture, but we didn't care because we went to New Zealand for our honeymoon!

It can be small things too. Could you cut down on going out to eat? Your grocery bill? Are there unneccessary subscriptions that you pay for every month? What do you value and what are you willing to give up to live a life that inspires you?

how to travel more

Travel for Work

At least half of our trips are business trips. Brad goes to several conferences every year and our flights and hotel rooms are usually covered. Then when it's over, we take a mini vacation to somewhere close by and just cover the cost of an extra hotel and rental car. In the last few years, Brad's business trips have taken us to Arizona, Utah, Washington, Alaska, California, and overseas!

So what if your work doesn't take you on trips?

Are there conferences related to your industry in other parts of the country that you could pitch to your boss and convince them to pay for you to go? Does your company have multiple locations? You could volunteer to go and visit that branch to see how they do things - it's worth a shot! Just make sure it lines up with the weekend or a holiday, or take an extra couple of days off!

And don't be afraid to rent a car and drive a few hours! We love national parks, but these business trips are usually three to six (or more!) hours away from where we'd really like to be. So we just hop in the car and drive! Three to six hours is MUCH closer than the twenty-something hours it would take if we were back home in Tennessee.

valley of fire

Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments!

travel tips

Best of 2017 | Knoxville Wedding and Elopement Photographer

It's hard to begin to write this post because it's the one I look forward to all year long. Nothing I say seems to do it justice! 2017 was my 5th year shooting weddings and they just get better and better every year. I love photographing weddings because I'm a sucker for moments. Quiet bride and groom portraits. Happy tears from parents. Crazy receptions. These are what I live for!

Because numbers are fun - 2017 took me to 6 states and 1 foreign country, and I shot 26 weddings and 5 styled shoots.

A few favorite moments: 

Shooting two different weddings overlooking the Blue Ridge mountains. 

The bride's mother joining the band and singing her heart out. And did I mention said band threw the best reception ever by only playing 2000's pop-punk songs?

The wedding ceremony of two worship leaders whose first act as husband and wife was leading their friends and family in worship. 

Grandparents tearing it up on the dance floor. 

A mountaintop engagement session that the couple drove a total of twelve hours in one day to shoot. 

FOOD. So much good food - taco bars, an Indian buffet, BBQ, food trucks, prime rib, brunch, pasta....I love wedding food.

Wedding guests insisting I put my cameras down and dance with them.

An elopement in the Smoky Mountains.

My friend Caley trusting me to help capture her cousin's wedding whose father had just passed away, resulting in one of the most emotion-filled days I've witnessed.

Joyful brides who greeted me with smiles and hugs, some having never met me.

Dogs on the dance floor (the true way to my heart).

2017 was filled with emotion and joy and kindness and it was too good to me. To all my clients, thank you for another wonderful year. I'm so grateful for you!

Best of Travel 2017

It's crazy going back through this year's travels and seeing everywhere we went. Brad and I spent a grand total of 53 days traveling, but because we take advantage of weekends and work trips, Brad only had to take off about ten days from work! I said it in last year's post so I'll say it again this year - we're pretty much experts at going on vacation and still making it to work on Monday morning. :)

I had a goal to visit 5 new states and 2 new countries this year. I only made it to three new states, but visited 3 new countries + revisited 2 more. If last year was our year of exploring the US, then this year was for exploring other countries.

A few favorite moments from this year: visiting Harvard's campus, going to Cape Cod, staying in a refurbished motel built for old western stars in the 50s, getting up close and personal with some seals, spending my birthday weekend hiking in one of my favorite national parks while it snowed, Iceland (yeah the whole country was my favorite moment), learning how to make traditional Irish bread, visiting an oyster farm, having tea at a local Irish woman's cottage, our cute Irish bed and breakfast, sleeping in a castle, paddle boarding with dolphins, traveling overseas by myself for the first time, traveling and learning with new friends in France, experiencing "via ferrata" for the first time in Canyon Sainte-Anne, kayaking through sea caves, and finally, escaping the cold and spending a weekend in the desert.

Knoxville Wedding Photographer || Phillip + Paloma Sunrise Engagement Session

As we were planning Phillip and Paloma's engagement session, Paloma told me that the only thing she wanted was fog. She said she wanted it to have the feel and vibe of the last scene of "Pride and Prejudice". Confession: I've never seen the movie but I spent the night before their engagement session watching and rewatching that last scene on YouTube! We decided on a mid-October sunrise session at a local park with several big fields and crossed our fingers for fog. We were all so excited when we drove up and the hills were rolling with it! 

I am always so impressed with Paloma when I see a new Instagram post from her. I don't think there is anything she can't do! She runs her own business, has helped me with graphic design and styled shoots, and she is designing and making her own wedding dress! I literally cannot wait for this wedding!