Second Shooter Training | Attire & Work Ethic

General May 27th 2014 6:43 PM 12 Comments

This article is a continuation of our Second Shooter Training for Lin and Jirsa Photography, Los Angeles. In this series, we’re sharing our internal training documents with the SLR Lounge community.

In previous articles, we’ve covered the following:

In this article, we wanted to outline the basics of our work ethic, attire and other miscellaneous non-shooting topics.

Sarah's Creative Angle

Wedding Photography Attire

One of our other writers, Hanssie, wrote a great article on Wedding Photography Attire, so please be sure to read that article. Remember, every studio operates differently, so be sure to check with your lead shooter for the details. We know some studios who require the full suit and tie, while others are much more casual. We try to stay somewhere in between. Here are more guidelines specific to our studio:

General note for both Men and Women: wear modest clothing (even on hot days) as many of our clients are conservative.

Tops: 

  • No T Shirts.
  • Men: Wear black or dark grey collared shirt (either polo shirt or button-up).
  • Women: Wear black or dark shirt or Blouse.

Bottoms:

  • No shorts or jeans
  • Men: Wear black or dark grey slacks.
  • Women: Wear black or dark pants. Note: Our style of photography requires a lot of movement.  You may find yourself on the ground or climbing over handrails.  For that reason, we recommend that you avoid skirts.

Shoes & Socks:

  • Wear comfortable shoes that you can move quickly in.
  • Black or dark tennis shoes are okay.  Try to avoid white soles.
  • Dress shoes okay
  • No White Socks or Socks with Holes (We do many cultural weddings during which you will have to take off your shoes)

Optional but not required: Ties, Suit Jackets or Blazers.  Do not bring or wear sunglasses. The general rule of thumb here is to look good and avoid standing out. You should be memorable because of your amazing personality and not because of your cool hat.

Sarah's Creative Angle

Sarah’s Creative Angle

Attitude and Work Ethic for Wedding Photography

Lin and Jirsa Photographers are expected to be the hardest working vendors at the wedding. What does this mean?  Here are some basic rules to follow:

  • There is always something to capture – I’ve heard other studios say that “during dinner, guests don’t want pictures of them stuffing their mouths,” so they decide to take a long break during this time.  While we agree that you shouldn’t get pictures of guests with their mouths full, we believe that there is always something to capture.  During dinner, for example, there are probably guests approaching the couple’s table and offering their congratulations. This is a great opportunity for an image of a hug or a laugh.  Additionally, children get their second wind during the reception and start running around the dance floor.  This “down time” is also a great way to think of other creative opportunities like ring shots involving the unique lighting of the reception or unique angles or compositions of the wedding cake.  Long story short, there’s always something to capture.
  • Do not take breaks for more than 15 minutes at a time – Unless there is literally nothing in the itinerary, no guests around, and the bride and groom have decided to rest somewhere private, you should always be looking for something to shoot. Your breaks generally should not be longer than 15 minutes.
  • Always take shifts to eat – There should always be a photographer in the room in case something unexpected happens.  Impromptu speeches, miscommunication between the DJ and the planner, random changes in the itinerary and other unexpected events are all reasons that we should take breaks in shifts.
  • Do not chat or joke with the team – Unless there are literally no wedding guests or clients around, do not chat with the team (or other vendors) on topics unrelated to the wedding.  This can come off very unprofessional. Like many of the other rules mentioned, this seems obvious but it’s so easy to get sucked into a conversation with a chatty lighting assistant or other shooter.
  • Never say negative comments about the clients, guests, or vendors – This also seems obvious but it happens more often then you think.  Even if you’re dealing with the craziest, most unreasonable couple, remain positive.  Even if the planner is unorganized and inexperienced, remain positive.  Even if the guests are pushy and rude, remain positive.  There is never a reason to be negative on the wedding day.  Beware of other vendors chatting negatively about clients and be sure to not get sucked into their conversation.
  • Do not have extended conversations with guests – Guests are interested in what we do, what we’re shooting on, Canon vs. Nikon, Raw vs. JPEG and a bunch of other things.  Be sure to remain nice, but never engage in a long conversation.  If it’s more than a couple minutes, let them know that you have to get back to work.
  • No personal networking – Do not pass out your personal business cards or give other information to the guests or the other vendors.  If you’re our second or third shooter for that day, then there should be no mention of your other business.
  • Play Nice with the Video Team – Understand that the video team has a job to do with just as much pressure as you to deliver a high-quality product.  That means that you need to offer them some of your couples session time, even if you’re running late and only have 30 minutes.  That might even mean that you offer to go on “silent shutter” mode if the bride is reading a letter out loud.  You might even consider minimizing your flash if it’s not absolutely necessary.  Obviously, do what you need to do in order to maintain your standards and get the shots you need to get, but compromise as well.  Communication is key, especially for key moments throughout the day.  This is a loaded topic so we’ll likely write another article on this with more detail.
  • Always arrive at the venue at least 15 to 30 minutes early – The start time on the itinerary is the time when you actually need to start taking photos.  In these large resorts, it may take you some time to get from the valet to the room.  If it’s a new venue, show up even earlier to plan your shots.
  • Always check with the clients prior to departure – Before leaving, you should always say your farewells and congratulations.  You should always also check to make sure they do not want to extend your coverage. While this should be the responsibility of the lead shooter, this may fall on you if you’re the lead shooter at an Indian prewedding event or if your coverage was somehow extended later than the lead shooter’s time.

Conclusion

I know we’ve touched on a wide range of topics in this article, but hopefully this gives you insight into how we approach a wedding day in terms of attire and attitude. If you have any questions, please be sure to check with your lead photographer.  If you’re not an LJP Photographer in training and you do things differently, we’d love to hear your thoughts as well in the comments of this article.

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Christopher

About

Co-Founder of SLR Lounge and Photographer with Lin and Jirsa Photography, I’m based in Southern California but you can find me travelling the world. Click here to connect on Google +

12 Comments

  1. Chris Warkocki

    Meh… I don’t really understand half of this. I suppose if you hire random second shooters to help you then some of this makes sense but in all honesty I don’t want some kid running around in dark grey and black taking pictures of useless things for me just so I have extra work to do.

    I want my second shooters to express themselves just like I do on wedding day and if that means he is rocking chinos, a dress shirt and a vest then by all means be yourself as long as it’s appropriate.

    On the 15 minute rule combined with the eating thing. Guys… there is nothing to photograph during dinner and I explicitly have in my contract that I get to eat and so does my second during that time frame. I’m not going to scarf it down and run back out there exhausted. Eating time is eating time and if dinner is served and guests are walking up to the bride and groom to chat they should sit back down and give the bride and groom time to relax as well.

    Honestly this article is kind of confusing. I thought this was second shooter training but then I’m seeing things the main shooter would do like asking the client if they need anything else. That is not something my second would do or I hope any second would do.

    A good second shooter is a capable photographer who has similar style and approach. They should work just as hard as you do and take direction very well. They are there to help catch the misplaced hairs, posing, run and grab things if needed, etc. They should also be treated as part of the team and not some lowly lackey.

    Work off each other and rock the wedding as a team not as a photographer and his monkey.

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    • Christopher

      I appreciate your thoughts and it’s good to know what aspects are confusing. The reason this includes things that are typical “lead shooter tasks” is because in our studio, we do a lot of ethnic weddings where an associate shooter might cover a prewedding event by themselves. While they are considered the “lead shooter” during that gig, they are still the “second shooter” for the wedding overall.

      It looks like we operate our studios very differently and that’s completely fine. We likely serve a very different clientele and probably in very different parts of the world/country.

      Our rule of thumb is that as long as people are talking and laughing among friends and family, there is always something to capture .. there will always be a smile or a laugh or a hug going on … even during dinner.

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    • Chris Warkocki

      I suppose but honestly we serve the same clientele which is brides and grooms. If you’re inferring that your clients are completely different people then maybe but I suppose you’re meaning your clients are higher paying or better but that’s not the case believe me.

      I just don’t think they’ve seen another style of photography or a better way of doing it. Just seems drab and honestly boring and it seems like the points you’ve made are something that need a severe case of updating. Just like photography itself how you run around at a wedding and interact needs to be modern and polished.

      On the subject of a hug happening here and there they aren’t all necessary. Believe me that no bride wants a collection of 2000 images with the majority being hugs at the reception. It’s like taking table shots or making sure everyone you snag a photo of every single person who walks in the door. Yes those are moments but those aren’t moments you should be photographing every single time.

      To prove my point your post here received a total of 1 Facebook like and my comment received 2 likes. By all means feel free to capture every moment that ever happens but you’re not focusing on KEY moments and you’re also giving the client a lot of unnecessary photos. Not once has anyone told me, “what! you missed the hug from random guest #245!”

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    • Christopher

      Hi Chris, there’s really no point in going back and forth because honestly, there’s no right answer. Every studio runs things differently. I’ve respectfully acknowledged that, and all I ask is that you do the same.

      The main reason I wanted to respond was to clarify that I wasn’t inferring anything about your clientele or their budgets. I only know my own clients, which consists of a lot of culturally conservative couples (and families). From the feedback that I’ve heard from them, they have appreciated our professionalism and approach.

      Lastly, I don’t know where the whole ‘lackey” or “monkey” thing is coming from. I don’t think any of our team feels that way. We actually treat our people really well.

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  2. Travis

    Chris, I totally agree with you. This article sounds very old school. I shoot in Miami,fl where I’m sure that I deal with just as much or more cultural diversity as anyone in the world. Our photographers are encouraged to dress comfortable, modern and trendy. Many times it’s black v necks, converse all stars. Attire doesn’t bother me or my clients and honestly people want to see someone they can relate to, not a life touch photographer wearing a bow tie. I serve clients of all budgets and have been for over ten years. These suggestions need to be updated for today’s photographers.

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  3. Kelsi

    I agree with everything in this article! Good job and thank you!

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  4. Joe

    Chris, I agree with you 110%.

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  5. Gabriel

    Very well detailed article. .. yes, perhaps a little too much for some but, as you pointed, every studio, everyone approach their business in a different manner.
    I’ve seen (while being a guest) photogs very “modern” sowing up feeling “artsy” dressing like punk rock stars, and I heard the comments from the other guests, parents of the couple, etc.
    While I think we should be modern and comfortable there’s also a rule of thumb, first impressions leave lasting memories.
    As an example…I was shooting an event for the ASCAP (musicians all over) while most other photogs were in “modern” jeans, t-shirts, even leather pants outfits… I was wearing something more conservative. …guess what, people like Storm Lee Gardner, Bonnie McKee, Suzie Nakayama (and others) came to me, not only shake hands but starting a little conversation which had led to other gigs…
    And I’m just an old dude with a young heart and my photos not even that great but, personality, appearence it’s a fundamental part of the businesses.
    If your brain surgeon were to show up at your time for surgery wearing certain attire you might doubt his/her knowledge…

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  6. Gabriel

    Forgot to mention…i might not agree 100% with the article but I think, as any other, I see it as a reference and make my own adjustments to fit my personality and, in this case, business model.

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  7. Abby

    I like this article. Another thing to remember is to try and be courteous with guests who may get in the way. Sometimes they don’t know they are intruding. One time I was at a wedding and had to walk across apparently what was the entrance for the bride and groom. My arms were loaded down with a baby and diaper bag and the photographer says to me in a gruff tone something about how the bride and groom were entering. I had no idea they were entering the reception as there had been no announcements previous to the time I got up to go.

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  8. Jared Stewart

    Love articles like these!

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  9. Michael Shu

    Having shot alongside Chris before and myself being similarly strict with second shooters (especially seeing the variety of levels of unprofessionalism from people within the industry), I think this is a great article and something all photographers and cinematographers should read.

    Over the years of running our cinematography company, there were some people we hired that just didn’t follow our standards of etiquette. I understand that balancing all the creative and technical needs can be stressful and you want to dress/act in a way that comfortable for you, but as professionals, our very presence is our branding. How we dress, how we act.

    I once hired a second shooter from recommendation from another company owner, and it was the worst mistake. Not only did he barely know what he was doing, but he dressed in a black t-shirt and black jeans (at least he got the black part right), he acted as if he was party animal, hooting and hollering “to get people into it” during the photo session, plus just getting into the photographer’s way. His random behavior reflected on me as the lead, the photographer hated ME even though I was following my etiquette and I was face palming myself for having to even mention some of this stuff to him.

    Thanks for making mention of cinematographers, btw, Chris. I think a lot of photographers, old and new, forget the fact that the couple could have invested a good amount of money on the cinematography end (unless they hired the bottom of the barrel) and have high expectations for the cinema crew that they are under pressure to meet.

    Thanks for the great article!

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