If you’re just getting started photographing weddings, it might be a great idea to start as a 'photographer assistant'. Assisting a more established wedding photographer can be a great opportunity to dip your toes in the water, and you’ll be assisting someone who knows how to shoot weddings already, so there’s a lot you can learn. Here are some tips for making the most out of your time as a second shooter.
1. Be prepared
There are a couple of things you can do to prepare for being a photographer assistant. First, if you don’t have experience shooting weddings, take time to look at other wedding photographers work (and if you can, the work of the photographer you’ll be assisting). This will help you build a list of the shots you and the photographer will be getting on the day of the wedding, and get you familiar with the various events and details you’ll be photographing throughout the day.
Second, you’ll want to really get to know the ins and outs of the camera and flash you’ll be using. Weddings can be hectic for any photographer, and you’ll have to be able to go from one lighting situation to another without much delay in your ability to keep shooting. So take some time to practice changing your settings for different situations, and get comfortable changing your settings on the fly.
2. Be professional
Being that this is your introduction to the world of wedding photography, it’s best to act professionally when being a second shooter. Dress appropriately, show up early, ask questions rather than making assumptions about how to do something, and make sure your equipment is clean and charged up. As a photographer's assistant, you want to aim to impress. So the established photographer uses you again and you can continue the invaluable learning process.
The key to a great photographer assistant is maintaining awareness and great communication. You need to find out what the photographer is expecting of you before the day of the shoot. During the shoot, be sure to pay attention to the lead photographer, and pay attention for directions on where to get a second angle from, or if they decide to delegate a task to you, like photographing the decorations while they take shots of the couple getting ready.
3. Be willing to take direction, and admit when you miss a shot
This one’s very straightforward. To be a great photographer assistant, you have to start with being ok with taking direction from another photographer. While you might want to shoot things your own particular way, you’re there to do a job, and that job is to be an extension of the lead photographer. As such, you’ll want to try to shoot things the way they’re shooting them.
And if, in the haze of everything going on, you happen to miss a staged shot that can be re-staged; make sure you speak up. It’s better to swallow your pride and admit you didn’t get something than to have the lead photographer find out for themselves later on. Everyone misses a shot at some point, better to just get it out of the way and learn from it.
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Photo credit: All images in this blog post by Lukas Griffin.