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Apr 19, 2016

For Photogs: Proactive and Prepared

Published in For Photogs
Last week I wrote about some tips for second shooters, one of which was being proactive. I have blogged about the importance of being proactive on a wedding day as a second and lead photographer before and thought it was worth mentioning in a little more detail again! :)  
When I was in advertising one of the most important things I quickly learned I need to be was proactive. With my clients, with my boss, and with the everyday challanges I could foresee coming. Being 20 steps behind and reactive to the challanges I should have seen coming definitely made my 9-5 so much harder. When I began second and third shooting with other photographers this was a skill that not only came in handy, but was necessary... Like jelly to a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, you just have to have it. Shooting with another photographer without being ahead of the game just didn't work. I needed to know where we were on the timeline, what location we were going to next, what equipment the photographer needed, what bags needed to be packed, what lights would be used next, and the list goes on....  
Now being the lead photographer, I rely on Chris to proactively help me with what I will need and I can focus on being proactive in a different way. Having a second photographer that has my back, knows my train of thought along with my half sentences and weird hand gestures, and is working with me towards a common goal allows me to focus on the present and future. It's kind of like sailing a ship. Because I am not focused on pulling in the sails and making sure the ropes are organized, I can look forward to what is coming in the water ahead and prepare. Being proactive on a wedding day is crucial and definitely helps the day run more smoothly. 
One example of being proactive is knowing exactly where the bride is going to get ready and making sure that spot is ready before she is ready to get dressed. Sometimes the room where the bride is getting ready has suitcases all over and champagne glasses lining the window sill where the amazing light is you would like her to stand by. Once I am done capturing her makeup getting done, details, and her bridesmaids interacting I make sure that the space where I want her to be while she gets in her dress is clear and tidy. This way as soon as she is ready I can bring her to the spot and not waste any time. Being ahead of the game can help prevent time from being wasted cleaning up while the bride waits on you, having to shoot in a place that is not ideal because its the only clean spot, and you having to get creative and crop out certain items laying on the floor as you photograph her getting ready. Being proactive like this does take extra effort, but for me it is totally worth it. And totally worth not having the stress of feeling out of control and being reactive to every hiccup. 
On a wedding day, more often then not, something does not go as planned. Whether things are running late, the family doesn't all show up to the family photo location, the buses are behind, or the weather is not ideal. You can plan out every last detail, but it doest always work out that way. This is when being a proactive and problem solving photographer is so important. Seeing and thinking about the implications of a curve ball further in advance can help you come up with another solution and adjust the game plan. That way when the ball comes, you can seamlessly have planned for it or present your couple with another solution without them having to stress or think about what to do. And again, having a second photographer or assistant who is proactively thinking along side you is BEYOND helpful. 
So here's to being 10 steps ahead of the game... To knowing what's next and seeing those potential curveballs, hiccups, and your couple's needs in advance and planning accordingly.
For Photogs: Proactive and Prepared
For Photogs: Tips for Second Shooters
Apr 15, 2016

For Photogs: Tips for Second Shooters

Published in For Photogs
I have been on both sides. I have worn the hat of second shooter for different lead photographers and for years have been a lead photographer with a second shooter. For that early chapter in my photography career when I was a second shooter I learned so much about my craft and bits and pieces of things I wanted to incorporate one day into my own photography business and others I wanted to do differently. It was a wonderful experience and one I am so grateful for as it helped lay the foundation for where I am today as a photographer! 
Today I wanted to share some things that in my opinion make for a strong second shooter. Oh how I learned the importance of these things early on as I second shooter and now truly value in Chris as we shoot together! 
Be Proactive. Dare I say it, I have found being proactive as a second shooter is one of the most important and useful qualities if not THE most important. As a second shooter, most of the time you are in a supportive role to the lead shooter. You may be asked to carry bags and equipment, keep track of the timeline, help gather and organize family for photos, etc along with photographing the events of the day from new and alternative angles from the lead shooter. It's thinking AHEAD of what is coming up and what the needs will be for the lead shooter. This may include knowing what camera and lens the lead photographer will need to switch to in order to shoot upcoming family photos and getting that out and ready. Or it may be knowing they will need the light stand set up before the reception starts and getting that done. It could be having directions and gps programed for the next destination or photographing the flower girl off to the side twirling in her dress as the lead shooter is capturing candids of the bride and her father. Whatever it is, it's about 1) thinking proactively about what the needs will be and helping problem solve for any hiccups that arise in order to make things go more smoothly for the lead photographer 2) along with documenting the day from a different perspective. More on this coming in an upcoming blog post! 
Representing the Lead Photographer's Studio. You may not second shoot with just one photographer, but maybe a few different lead photographers. However, regardless of who you are shooting with at the time, you are indeed accompanying that lead photographer's studio. It's important to conduct yourself professionally which includes wearing appropriate attire that blends in well with the lead photographer's style and the guests. So don't be afraid to ask the photographers you are shooting with ahead of time what the appropriate attire is as some studios dress more formally and others much for casually. 
Because you are representing the studio you are accompanying, DO NOT hand out your own business card. When I was a second shooter, I would be asked for my business card from time to time and would let the guest or vendor who was asking know that I was second shooting with XXX studio that wedding and would provide them with the lead photographers card if they wanted one. 
Leave Your Ego At the Door. I think this goes without saying, but it's important to remember that as a second shooter you are there to make things easier for the lead photographer and capture the day from new angles. It can be frustrating not being able to photograph bridal portraits because you are packing the bags or missing the money shot of the first kiss because you are off to the side shooting. But I can say that this is where I really grew as a photographer when I was second shooting... Instead of getting frustrated, I worked with what I could and the angle I was shooting from. I looked at it as a personal challenge to try and get the most beautiful photo I could regardless of the condition and limitations I had because I wasn't the lead. Documenting weddings over and over again not from the main or best angles helped me become a stronger photographer because I had to look for different light, different backgrounds, different perspectives. This has helped me as a lead photographer to know that the main obvious angle may not always be the most intriguing and beautiful, taught me to think outside the box while shooting and helped me give direction to second shooters. But all this was possible by leaving my ego at the door and embracing and knowing what I was there to do as a second shooter. 
Smiles Upon Smiles. Sometimes things can get a little stressful during a wedding day, but oh how the power of a smile can effect things. This is one of the things I love about Chris - he is never short on smiles or a cheerful disposition! It's easy for me to get that "thinking something through" and problem solving look on my face during a wedding day. But lets be honest, that "deep in thought" face may look like I'm not happy or having fun. It's important to know that wedding guests are looking at us even when we may not realize it and the look on our faces can reflect their perception of our desire to be there, our brand etc. If we look frustrated or tired it may seem like we don't want to be there, which couldn't be further from the truth! Not to mention, as a second shooter, your smiles and attitude can help and effect the lead photographer's stress level and attitude. Chris smiles are definitely contagious! :) 
Here are some pics of the best second shooter a photographer you could ask for!! Okay I know I am slightly biased, but I couldn't do this without him! :)
Apr 12, 2016

FAQ: How Do I Find Second Shooting Opportunities?

Published in For Photogs
Hi Ashley!!  
I am just getting started into wedding photography (well, really, photography in general- have been doing families and babies for the last few months and have just started "interning" as a wedding photographer with the lovely lady who did my wedding). I just watched your showit interview from today- loved it, thank you so much for doing that!! :) I had one follow up question from your video! I am interested in doing a lot of second shooting this/next season, and I am struggling a bit to find those opportunities (or more so, to know what to say to photographers to ask about it) and was wondering if you might tell me a little about that process for you and how you got those "gigs". :)  
Thank you SO much for your time (and...your puppy is so so adorable!!!!) :) 
~ Eager to Second Shoot
Dear Eager to Second Shoot, 
Thank you for the kind words and for the great question! It's one I often get asked. That is so exciting that you getting into wedding photography and I think second shooting is an excellent way to get your feet wet! In the very beginning, I actually third shot (there was already a second shooter, so I was the third : ) ) with a wedding photographer and other photogs that I had met while planning my wedding! As far as approaching photographers to ask about second shooting opportunities, I honestly don't think there is one way to go about doing it however I do have some things that I have found are helpful to keep in mind: 
- Assisting, just like shooting, can be educational. When I first started I was desperate to learn anything and everything I could about wedding photography. I was willing to second shoot or fifth shoot - it didn't matter, I just wanted to learn. : ) I carried bags, set up light equipment and went to weddings where I didn't pick up the camera once. And I learned A TON through observation about the flow of a wedding day, client interaction, setting up lights, etc. I framed photos in my mind's eye, practiced identifying great light, and looked for great angles. I am so happy that this was part of my learning process because it formed a great foundation layer. So even if you are not shooting in the beginning and are just assisting, it can be super educational! I quickly became a third shooter and then a second shooter for one key photographer I had been assisting. So don't be afraid to offer to assist a photographer to get your foot in the door! Both of the photographers I second shot with talked to me about my goals early on and so I had the opportunity to discuss with them my desire to shoot at some point and not just assist forever. : ) 
- Write a specific and personalized email. I don't recommending sending out a mass generic email reaching out to photographers you wanted to inquire about assisting/second shooting with. I recommend picking 5 photographers that you really respect and whose work you love in your area. I would write them each a personalized email telling them specifically what you like about THEM and why you would love the opportunity to assist THEM. Tell them how eager you are to learn and ask for the opportunity to assist. I would be sure to tell them what you can bring to the table (assisting, carrying bags, etc) for them. For me, some of the photographers paid me for my assistance /second shooting and other times they provided me with mentor sessions in exchange for my time, which is why I recommend to reaching out to photographers you love and admire! Some may not pay or mentor you, so it's up to you if that is what you are looking for or just the experience and chance to shadow. 
- Look within your local network. There are so many wonderful local photography groups and networks, which can be a great resource especially when it comes to second shooting opportunities. Not only can you reach out to photographers in the group that you know and would love to shoot with, but sometimes photographers will post within the group's social media outlets like the group Facebook page, for example, specific weddings they are looking for an assistant/second shooter for. This can be great for having the opportunity to work with all different photographers and their different shooting styles In addition, you could even write a post putting it out there you are looking for second shooter opportunities.  
- The "NO's" will come. It's okay, and goodness knows I received my fair share. Not every photographer is looking for an assistant of another shooter, so don't let a no stop you from reaching out to other folks in the industry! Sometimes it takes time to find these kinds of opportunities with a great match. However, in the end it is worth all the time and effort especially if wedding photography is what you want to do!! 
Hope this is helpful!!! : )
FAQ: How Do I Find Second Shooting Opportunities?
Small World After All
Mar 8, 2016

Small World After All

Published in For Photogs
I just love this story... Call it a coincidence or an sign of their destiny to be together. Whatever you call it, this couple is calling it a small world after all. Donna and Alex were going through family photos the week before their wedding and one particular photo made them stop in their tracks. It was taken decades earlier when Donna was 5 years old and was on a family vacation in Walt Disney World. She was standing for a photo with Mr. Smee, but what is amazing about the photo was in the background. As Alex looked at the photo more closely he was shocked when he recognized his dad pushing him in a stroller in the background! At the time Alex was just 3 years old. Alex pulled his family photos from his family vacation to Disney World that same year and sure enough, his dad was wearing the same outfit pushing him in the that stroller. And the little boy in the stroller was definitely him!  
At the time of the photo, Donna and Alex were living in separate countries and it wouldn't be until decades later when Alex moved from Canada and Donna moved from Long Island that they would both end up working at the same hotel in Boca Raton, Florida and meet. They met 15 years after that awesome photo was taken! They dated for six years, tied the knot, and now have three sons. And yes, their family vacations include going to Disney World where you can be sure they take lots of photos. Alex said, "We've taken pictures of the kids, and they say there're looking for their future wives in the background." It's definitely a small world. : )
Jan 19, 2016

Don't Quit Your Daydream

Published in For Photogs
I remember when we first met her, she was SOO passionate about pursuing her photography and was quite talented. Her enthusiasm for taking photos was truly refreshing! However, she didn't know how to turn her hobby into a profitable business, how to create a brand, many technical aspects of shooting, managing a business, what she should do next, and so on. She lacked confidence and direction, but it was so obvious she wanted this dream of being a photographer full time so badly. I will never forget in her initial questionnaire for our workshop she attended, one of her answers was "Right now, (photography) it's my passion/hobby but I really want this to be my career. As mentioned, my photography jobs have only been with family and friends. I am lacking the confidence to take my passion to the next level so the shoots I do with family/friends are helping to build my confidence." 
This girl completely stepped outside of her comfort zone at that workshop, photographing the models, taking tons of notes, asking lots of questions and soaking in as much of the information as she could. Then last year, we had a one on one mentoring session with her and let me tell you, our mentoring sessions are a lot of work. They look at every aspect of a business at whatever stage its at, zeroing in on the business' weaknesses and strengths, identifying where the photographer wants to be and developing a detailed actionable plan to move forward. There is laughter, tears, and for this photographer, there was lots of affirmation that she could do this! We believed in her and sometimes as entrepreneurs and creatives especially, hearing that others believe in us, that we are worthy and capable of obtaining our dream goes further then we know.  
So you can only imagine the sheer joy I had to receive a phone call from her a few days ago telling me she did it... I could hear the lump in her throat as she fought back the tears of happiness. She shared with me the amazing news that she gave her two weeks notice at her corporate job! She was leaving the job that her heart was not in, to go full time with her photography business, the thing that she was widely passionate about and made her feel even more alive. Photography was the thing she knew she loved to do all these years, but never thought it could be her "job." Her business has taken flight and she can't keep up with the work from amount of clients booking her! My eyes swelled with tears as I listened to her joy on the other end of the phone - listening to this sweet girl who is making it happen. So proud of her! It's hard to believe her mentoring session was just one year ago! With planning, practicing, and putting herself out there and with so much hard work she has now made her photography passion her full time every day. I remember the day years ago I walked out of the advertising industry to pursue my photography, and while slightly scary, it was one of the BEST life changing days of my life and could so relate to how she was feeling! She ended the call with thanking Chris and I for helping change her life, and honestly, that's why we offer workshops and mentoring sessions... to change lives and remind folks that they CAN DO IT. That it IS possible.  
Don't believe the lie that living a passion is only for other people. This photographer is encouragement to never give up on your day dream and never settle for a job that doesn't make you excited everyday to wake up for. This life is too short not to live your passion.
Don't Quit Your Daydream
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