This is part 2 of a 2 part series titled, ‘The Art of the Second Shot.’ If you missed the first part, you will want to read it first. You can see it here.
Seeing the Second Shot
In this second part, we cover how to equip yourself to see the ‘Second Shot’. Seeing the Second Shot requires you to be intentional in every aspect of the wedding day. I have said it over and over again, but the first part is knowing your gear (I can’t stress this enough). Once you get that first part down, you can be more aware of your surroundings as opposed to being stuck focused on camera settings. Knowing off camera flash is a must if you are a wedding photographer. It may not be your thing, but you better know how to use it if you find yourself in a scenario that requires it. Remember, no excuses!
In this article, we are going to explore how to cultivate creativity inside ourselves so we can see the Second Shot. We also will look at how being prepared plays a huge role in achieving this.
Find Your Creativity
After you know your gear, the next step is drumming up the creativity that is deep down inside you. Most people have buried their creativity. It’s not that they are simply not creative, instead, I would argue that they have learned to bury that part of themselves. Art requires connection. When you see a piece of art, it evokes thoughts, feelings, moods. It’s the artists’ way of expressing something the way they saw it or wanted you to see it, and it can move you.
I believe one of the biggest problems these days is that we live in a “shutdown culture.” From an early age, so many of us were told not to be vulnerable. If you think about it, we all used to be creative when we were kids, right? I have never met an uncreative kid. They are always creating new worlds to explore and having sword fights with the cardboard paper towel rolls. So what happened? I would say life happened. As we grow up, we take on more responsibility, possibly have kids, work to pay bills, etc. We forget to make time to be creative, so we start to bury that part of ourselves.
Creating art of any kind and letting people see it is one of the most vulnerable things we can do. People will (and do) judge it and give their opinions. They are not always the nicest reviews, right? People are quick to shut down their creativity because it hurts when you make something you love and others don’t like it.
“85% of people remember something so shaming that happened in school that it changed how they thought of themselves as learners. 50% of those wounds were around art and creativity.” – Brene Brown
So from an early age we are working on burying our creativity. Becoming creative then becomes an unlearning process. Unlocking your creativity is the difference between a good photographer and a great photographer. You can be successful by simply being good at what you do. But the people that truly excel are never ok with being “Good Enough.” The quickest way to become more creative is to surround yourself with other creative people that can help push you.
Always Be Prepared
For the shot below, we were told 30 minutes before the ceremony that it was going to be outside. Well, it was completely dark outside with no place to bounce flash. We had to completely light every part of the ceremony. If we didn’t know what we were doing, we would have had to use direct flash and most likely deliver an inferior product.
This is an iPhone image of what we were working with. We used a Speedlight with a shoot through umbrella (pictured) to capture the people coming down the isle. Then we placed three more Speedlights around; one on each of the pillars on the brick walls and one on the ground behind the table inside the gazebo to light the top if it.
This is how it looked. We set everything up and had it ready to go in less than the 30 minutes allotted to us.
Tell The Story
For this ring shot, the bride was an English teacher, and she loved literature. So I brought this magnifying glass with me from home but didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do with it. I just knew I wanted the rings to be shot through it. At the venue, they had some old books, so I grabbed a few. I saw the one with Shakespeare and thought it was perfect.
We need to tell the couples story in every part of the day. A lot of wedding photographers are good at shooting one aspect of the day, and that is where they excel. As wedding photographers, we need to be good at shooting the entire day though. The bride/groom spent a lot of time planning every aspect of their day so we should be good at capturing every part of it for them.
Have An Action Plan
When I say look for the “Second Shot,” I am talking about pushing yourself to see beyond the first idea that comes to your head. Are you looking for ways to be creative throughout the wedding day? Have you equipped yourself with the toolset needed to react and capture the ideas you have? Have you thought about how contrasting backgrounds can be used to separate the subject from the background? Do you incorporate the use of OCF to create a different look? These are just a few things to consider.
In order to grow creatively, we must make a decision that we do, in fact, want to grow. Whenever I arrive on a wedding day, I am constantly looking for opportunities to tell the story in the most creative way. Here are four ways that will help you look for the second shot:
- Fill Your Bag O’ Tricks – Make sure you know your camera inside and out. Make sure you know your gear. Know how to use the gear you have to capture the idea you have in your head. How does it look when you use a softbox as opposed to a bare bulb flash? What lens creates the biggest bokeh? Have you ever seen an image and thought to yourself, “How did they do that?” Well, go figure it out! Never stop educating yourself.
- Change Your Perspective/Composition – Move away from your typical composition for a few shots. Look through your work. Are you finding you have been using the right side of your frame a lot? Switch it up! Look for reflections, shadows, shoot through things, etc.
- Practice New Ideas – You have an idea, but you are scared to try it on a wedding day, right? Call a friend and practice it on them. Nail the shot or technique before you try it in a high-stress situation. Every time I shoot a wedding, I go into it with 1 or 2 ideas of shots I really want to try to get. This helps me stay focused. I can overwhelm myself if I show up without a few ideas in my head. I get what I like to call creative overload where I want to shoot a million different crazy shots and Laura has to reel me in.
- Junk Up Your Lens – Find something to shoot through. Wine glasses, prism, windows, trees, anything really. We carry a 6-inch round mirror, led branches, and a prism.
Unlocking your creativity is the difference between a good photographer and a great photographer. I am not saying in any way, shape, or form that you need to shoot like I do. I am simply challenging you to think outside the box, be prepared, and, above all else, capture your couple’s story.
To see part 1 of ‘The Art of the Second Shot,’ read it here.
We also have a video workshop based on ocf and the “Art of the Second Shot” if you are interested in learning more about this concept. You can check it out HERE.
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