For Second Shooters
Thank you thank you for reading through this comprehensive info! There are also links (in red) to some sample photos of cocktail hour coverage and details that I’d love you to look through.
What to Wear
Ladies: black pants with black blouse, shirt, or neat sweater, or black dress. Navy or dark gray also fine but black is preferred. Shoes: I recommend comfortable but smart flats. Boots fine in winter. Open toed sandals fine in summer. Please don’t wear crazy amounts of jewelry; keep it simple and smart.
Gents: Dark pants (black or dark gray preferred) with black or dark gray button down shirt (navy OK too, also white in a pinch!) – black sweater can be worn on top in winter months if you’d like. Tie/jacket optional unless otherwise requested. Be smart but comfortable. Please no polo shirts (one exception: if it’s an outdoor wedding, and sweltering heat, you can change into a dark polo after the ceremony). Short sleeve button downs OK in the summer.
Both: please no sneakers – BUT it’s OK to change into sneakers after dinner, provided they are all-black.
Note: indoor receptions are often icy cold in the summer as they tend to put the AC on full blast. So, for tented weddings dress cool; for hotel/indoor weddings bring a sweater even if it’s crazy hot out!
Being on time – early, in fact – is absolutely critical. Please allow extra time in case of traffic, accidents, etc. Plan to arrive early and then relax for 15-30 mins before your start time – go grab a coffee or similar. If the worst happens and you are running late, please let me know as soon as you think you may not be there on time – the earlier I know the sooner I can figure out how to cover everything myself. If you are deathly ill, please email and text and call until you get through to me!
What to Bring
Please bring the following as needed:
- snacks (we usually eat late, sometimes 8/9pm or later)
- water (at least one bottle that you can refill – I always bring several)
- coat/jacket/hat/scarf/gloves if it’s cold out
- two cameras, multiple lenses, CF/SD cards in case you start before I can provide you with some, flash(es), spare batteries for cameras and flash
- cash if you are valeting (I will reimburse you)
- bug spray for outdoor weddings (I’ll usually have some in my car too)
Sync Cameras to Time
Please do BOTH of the following:
- set your cameras to the exact time here: http://www.timeanddate.com
- please also take a photo of the time on the above link on all cameras used, as your first shot (if you forget, you can do your last shot on each camera like this instead)
Also, please shoot in RAW format.
Please have your phone on you and with ringer/vibrate on until we see each other at the ceremony. Then, switch to silent. After ceremony, please have your phone on you and ringer on, until dinner begins. I will likely call/text you at various times.
Please text me as soon as you arrive on site so that I know you are there.
If you need to take a call, or respond to an urgent text or email, etc. please do so somewhere where no one involved in the wedding can see you (including the coordinator/planner). It is generally better to wait until we are sitting down for dinner to use your phone.
Please sign up for Venmo if you can, that way I can pay you immediately and it’s much easier for both of us. It takes 10 minutes to set up. Otherwise I will mail you a check the week after the wedding. Please keep a note of your hours, return mileage, plus any parking fees, valet tips, etc. Send them to me at the end of the night via email, broken down as above.
Deleting Photos / General Requests
Please don’t delete photos in-camera. It can cause issues for the memory card. Please know that I take an enormous amount of terrible photos, and I expect you to, too! Don’t be embarrassed. 🙂 When I download your photos, I’ll be looking for the gems and ignoring the rest.
Please shoot a lot. I typically shoot 6k frames at a typical wedding. I’d rather have too many photos than not enough. This is especially true for groom getting ready (if you’re covering it) and cocktail hour. Also any details you photograph.
Please use high ISO vs risking using a too-slow shutter speed. I can work with grainy; I can’t work with motion blur! If you’re unsure we can figure out ideal settings between us – I’d prefer you to ask if you’re not 100% confident.
Please do not post any photos of the wedding (including any people or details) to any form of social media. A lot of my clients have privacy clauses. Please also don’t friend request/follow my clients/their guests.
You may receive requests for quick group pictures during the course of the day. I try to discourage these (I prefer candid/non-camera-aware coverage) BUT if asked please do! And make them pretty. 🙂
- please shoot group photos at 50mm or longer (so, 50mm, 85mm, or using a 70-200) – no wide lenses for group photos (stand back instead)
- please shoot groups with an aperture of f3.5 or more so that everyone is in focus
- please use a fast enough shutter speed! At least 1/60 for 50mm, at least 1/200 if you are using the 70-200, etc.
- please take multiple photos, then check that there is at least one good photo with everyone in focus, eyes open, looking nice. If there’s not, please ask the group to stay put and take some more! They will be grateful that you took the extra time even if you feel awkward in the moment 🙂 You can blame any technical issues on “blinks”
Getting Ready Coverage
If you’re photographing the guys getting ready, please cover this in a documentary style as much as possible. You can suggest a good spot in the room for the groom to put on tie, etc. if you’d like. Look for clean backgrounds and good light. But try not to set anything up aside from suggesting a good spot. The guys may want a couple of quick group photos – if so, shoot a few close up and a few full length. I’ll cover these again later most likely too.
Please ask the groom if he has any special or meaningful items for you to photograph e.g. embroidered date inside jacket, rings, groomsmen gifts, cufflinks, etc.
Once groom is dressed, please take a couple of nice natural light portraits of him, maybe by a window. Waist up or head and shoulder, plus maybe one full length (although this is not critical).
When you arrive, please photograph any details etc. inside the ceremony location including:
- the people handing out the programs
- nice overview photos of the ceremony space/church
- outside shots of church
Once these are taken care of, please take lots of photos of guests arriving/sitting chatting/etc.
During the ceremony, follow my lead in terms of movement/positioning and so on. Ideally, stay a little further back than I do, and move around a little less and more quietly than I do. 🙂 For the processional, please either be in the choir loft/on balcony, shooting down on bride/wide shots of entire thing OR if you are up front please get some great photos of groom watching bride enter.
For vows and ring exchange, please take the opposite side to me, in a similar position. If we don’t discuss this in advance, assume you will be photographing the groom, standing on the bride’s side. Or just head over to whichever side I’m not on.
This is the most important part of the day for you! I am usually busy with portraits so you are in charge of cocktail hour coverage. Please get LOTS of great documentary/candid photos of guests. I generally prefer you to shoot long (85mm, or 70-200mm) for this. Look out for people smiling, laughing, etc. (not eating, frowning, yawning). If you are having no luck, then maybe suggest a few couples and group photos instead. This is better than no photos!
If there is food at cocktail hour, please photograph it. You will probably have to stand near wherever it is being brought in and ask the servers to stop for a minute. They will try to rush you so be firm. Tell them it’s important to the couple to have some nice food photos.
If there is a table of food set up, get some photos while it still looks good, before everyone descends on it.
If there are any signature drinks, please photograph them too.
Other things to look out for: guest book table, gift table, escort card table (photograph this as soon as you arrive – it quickly gets destroyed!)
Checklist for cocktail hour, in order:
- photograph escort card table (cards with guest names) as soon as you arrive – feel free to politely ask guests to wait for you to finish before grabbing their cards. Also get a close up shot of the bride and groom’s cards.
- photograph other “details” e.g. gift table, signature drinks, food display, etc.
- take lots and lots of photos of guests enjoying themselves (not looking at camera)
If you need to use flash, then do – try to bounce it. Otherwise, natural light is preferred where possible.
Sample photos here: http://katemcelweephotography.pixieset.com/samplecocktailhour/
I prefer to photograph these myself – however if I’m not back from portraits 15-20 minutes before dinner begins, please go into the reception room and shoot the hell out of it! Make sure to get a couple of wide “room overview” photos (usually 35mm or wider), and then a ton of detail photos (shot 50mm or longer) of flowers, place settings, decor, etc. etc. A quick tip here: try to have a neutral/darker background behind details – i.e. don’t photograph them against the bright sky! Sometimes you will need to shoot down to minimize bright backgrounds. This tip also works with people. A wall/foliage/other people is usually a better background than blown out sky.
Sample photos here: http://katemcelweephotography.pixieset.com/samplecocktailhour/detailsreception/
We’ll chat just before about where to stand for the entrances, first dance, parent dances, etc. For toasts, please get lots of photos of the guests. I will focus on the person giving the toast, as well as the bride and groom.
Please just ask! And if you run into any issues on the day of, please let me know and we can figure out a solution together. I once second shot for a friend and had one of my cameras die as soon as I started – shit happens, and no day is perfect. We will work together to do the very best we can. 🙂