Ever been asked to shoot a wedding as a 2nd photographer?

A PRO Member asked about this on the forums the other day. This will be their first time shooting a wedding:

“Hey James, my cousin has asked me to be the second photographer at her wedding (the other photographer is another cousin). Any tips would be most welcome, especially as this is the first time I’m doing something like this. Thanks a bunch!”

There are at least 5 different areas to consider when stepping into this role:

1. Consider What Equipment to Bring

First, you’ll want to bring lenses with the widest aperture possible.  Most of the time, wedding ceremonies, and receptions are held in low-light environments. Even a seemingly bright church auditorium is dark to the eye of the camera. The faster your lens, the more you’ll be able to compensate for this.

160514-JAS-1820_ALERT Academy Chapel, Texas, USA_Canon EOS 5D Mark II 50 mm 1-40 sec at f - 4.0 ISO 800

I love using the 50mm f/1.8. You really have to watch the plane of focus, but this cheap lens works wonders. On the other side of the price spectrum is the 70-200mm f/2.8 IS. If you don’t shoot weddings or events all that often it’s better to rent this lens for the occasion, but since I shoot weddings and events quite often, it was totally worth the investment.

Speedlites are a must. I tried using the less powerful 430EX for a while since it was more affordable, but I soon learned that the more expensive 580EX was very much worth the extra expense. I seldom shoot an event without pulling this out at one point or another.

110611-JAS-6517_Bible Way Baptist Church, Texas, USA_Canon EOS 40D 31 mm 1-60 sec at f - 4.0 ISO 400

As of last year, I started carrying two cameras around with me when shooting a wedding. On one camera I attach my telephoto lens. On the other camera (the full frame one), I attach the wide angle lens. This way, I can capture an entire range of focal lengths from wide to far in an instant, without having to ever switch lenses. As a 2nd photographer, this isn’t quite as necessary, but if you can borrow a second DSLR from a friend, then it’s worth trying out.

160514-JAS-1385_ALERT Academy Beach, Texas, USA_Canon EOS 5D Mark II 17 mm 1-100 sec at f - 8.0 ISO 100

160514-JAS-6330_ALERT Academy Beach, Texas, USA_Canon EOS REBEL T2i 200 mm 1-400 sec at f - 5.6 ISO 100

Make sure to bring extra, fully charged batteries. For both camera and speedlite. Make sure they are fully charged the night before. I have 4 battery packs for the camera and 3 sets of powerful, rechargeable (again, expensive but totally reliable) AA batteries for the speedlite. I store batteries in my suit pocket at all times to be ready for those inopportune Murphy’s Law moments.

And of course, lots of memory cards. You never know how many hundreds of pictures you’ll shoot . In RAW too. So yeah, it takes lots of space. Memory cards are so cheap these days that there’s no excuse to run out of space.

2. Experiment with equipment on location beforehand

110611-JAS-8156_Bible Way Baptist Church, Texas, USA_Canon EOS 40D 17 mm 1-250 sec at f - 4.0 ISO 400

3. Consider Where You Will be Positioned During the Ceremony

160514-JAS-1374_ALERT Academy Beach, Texas, USA_Canon EOS 5D Mark II 17 mm 1-100 sec at f - 8.0 ISO 100

4. What to Cover for the Main Photographer

110611-JAS-8140_Sesquicentenial Park of Houston, Texas, USA_Canon EOS 40D 51 mm 1-100 sec at f - 3.5 ISO 100

5. Taking an Artistic Approach

110611-JAS-9162_Sesquicentenial Park of Houston, , _Canon EOS 40D 17 mm 1-125 sec at f - 5.6 ISO 200

PRO Members can watch the full presentation of these 5 considerations in the PRO-exclusive video, 5 Things To Consider When Shooting A Wedding As A 2nd Photographer, from Saturday’s Photography Q&A webinar.

If you are not a PRO member, learn more about what’s available to PRO members here.

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