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  • Writer's pictureBL Gilleon

"I Don't Do Weddings" - How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Second Shooting (Wedding Photography)

Photograph of bride on the wedding day, focused on her ring

For years, I've had a folder on my external drive titled "I Don't Do Weddings." When people occasionally reach out and ask about wedding photography, the first thing I tell them is, "I don't do weddings."

"So Beth, why do you have that folder if you don't do weddings?"

You see, the thing is...first of all, I'm a sucker. A people-pleaser first, and a vain monster second, so once someone has plied me with compliments and said that they would be honored to have me take their wedding photos, eventually (and by "eventually" I mean after a few minutes) I cave, and accepted the job. Like I said, vain monster.

But here's the thing: I hate it. I'm super glad for the couple, and I appreciate their faith in me! But a wedding is a Big Deal™ and my nerves are not equipped to handle that kind of stress. Going back to being a people-pleaser, it causes me to spend literally hours a day thinking about the upcoming wedding and how I'm going to shoot it, the gear I'm going to use, what happens if the pictures are terrible, what if I forget my batteries, what if, what if, what if?? The anxiety ends up eating me alive; while anticipating one wedding, I was grinding my teeth in my sleep so bad that my husband would wake me up in the middle of the night for weeks to make sure I was ok.

Don't get me wrong, I'm glad that I shot those early weddings. They gave me a chance to rent new equipment and try out some professional gear, pushed my experience by leaps and bounds, and I got to be a special part of the day for some great people! I charged what I was comfortable with at the time, given my level of experience and confidence, and it was typically only enough to cover the rentals I was using to do the shoot. As I progressed, I started increasing my rate, but the anxiety never went away, and instead increased as I began getting an idea of all the things a wedding photographer is responsible for. There's a lot of pre-communication & planning before the day even arrives, and let's not even talk about the time it takes to filter through and edit literally thousands of photos. I love doing creative sessions, headshots, portraits, and so on, and I'll edit all day long. But the enormity of an entire wedding gallery is an entirely different beast, and to be perfectly honest, my personality type and mindset is not equipped to both handle that and stay sane at the same time. If I have a wedding gallery waiting to be edited, I feel like I can do nothing else until it's complete!

Enter second shooting.

One day, a friend forwarded me a query from a wedding photographer who was in a bind and seeking a second shooter on short notice. Essentially, this is a photographer who goes along to a wedding as a contractor of the lead photographer. They assist in several ways, but the main objectives are to be where the lead photographer can't be, offering alternative perspectives, and creative input. Typically, the lead photographer gives their second an SD card for their camera (most cameras have two card slots, so each photographer has a card and a copy of the photos), and at the end of the event the card is returned. The best part is that the lead photographer is then in possession of the photos and responsible for the edits & delivery. This allows the lead to edit the photos in the style that reflects their work, for a cohesive, beautiful gallery. The second also has a set of their own photos to do with as they please, contracts & agreements withstanding, and no timeframe or deadlines. Many wedding photographers will also second shoot as a way to supplement their jobs without adding a huge workload to their edits.

So for a while now, I've been quietly shooting and second shooting weddings; it's been a transformative experience and I have absolutely no regrets! It's given me new friendships, priceless experience, and future opportunities that I hadn't even considered before. But if anybody asks, I don't do weddings.

Ohio Wedding Detail Photography


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