Welcome to the world of second shooting!  Thank you for expressing interest in shooting with me.  This is a labor of love and it's very important to me that we're a good fit before we start working together.   Each wedding only happens once and therefore, I'm careful about who I work with.   This page will share my philosophy on the second shooter role, an example of a day together, and my expectations of a second shooter. I also included some tips so that if we do work together, it will be absolutely awesome. 


My Philosophy on Second Shooting.

I don't see you as “just an assistant.”  You don't work "under me"—I never liked that term.   We work together.   While a primary photographer will more or less “call the shots,” if you have an idea (and the timing is appropriate), let me know.  I'm not going to send you to shoot photos of the guys while I take pictures of the bride (unless time is against us and we need to divide and conquer).   For the most part, we will build shots together and stick together during the day.  I view you as my partner. While I may ultimately decide, "this is how I would like to do the ring shot," I want you to bring your best creative mind and passion and never feel like you're just taking orders.  Our images should be synergistic and complimentary. 

The strength of having a second shooter is being able to show alternate angles or point of views for the important moments.  For example, while I shoot the ring being placed into her finger, you could shoot a parents reaction or a closeup of their emotions.  You also serve as a back up.  First kiss happens very quickly, by both of us shooting the same thing but from different angles, it not only reinforces the story but if case one of ours isn't sharp, we have another.  Without all the pressure of being the primary shooter, you're also in a unique situation to be able to find more creative angles or shots that normally woudn't have been taken.  I second shoot for others as well and some of my favorite images that I have taken are when I second shoot.  

What does second shooting with Ardee look like?   

Even before the wedding, I'll share the timeline and shot list with you.  We'll go over it and I'll ask you if you see any red flags or issues.  We may start to strategize about how to approach that wedding.  We'll discuss focal lengths, your gear, and we'll build a plan so that our approach is synergistic.  

During the “getting ready” pictures, we will ideally work together.  I have specific shots I'll want to take and may just start working.  I may ask you to hold light for me or help me move a heavy table.   However, I invite you to look at the environment and start to find your own angle.  

In most weddings, there is a “first look.”  We'll shoot that together.  I'll tell you my focal length and I'll ask you to shoot something complimentary.  That typically will be me with a 24 or 35 prime where I see the whole event.  You'll likely shoot a groom’s reaction with a zoom and then we will cover angles together.     

As we shoot the couple or individuals, I'll have some 'poses' or direction that I'll give them.   Don't bark orders at the same time I do, but instead look for an alternate angle, I may pass to you by saying, "(Groom) stay where you are, (Bride) look at (your name) and give a thumbs up!".   Be ready and prepared, I may pass also to you so that if you have a pose/direction idea, we can execute it.  

At the ceremony, I will typically give the second shooter the prime location of the center aisle.  I like to work different angles, but I'll count on you to get her walking down the aisle (while I get the back of her dress) and then you'll spin around and get the groom’s reaction and the “giving away of the bride.”  I'll run to the front and back you up by taking shots of the same event but with a different focal length. During family pictures, you may help me build groups together or organize people.  Or, you may build different groups of people.  You may also go to cocktail hour or start to take pictures of details.  I typically won't ask you to shoot family formals with me since it just doubles the time and family's get confused on where to look.  

At the reception, we eat, we shoot, and we hang out.  I like to check in and see how we're doing and make sure we have all the shots that we wanted and then plan for the rest of the evening.   We'll do details.  Get pictures of guests.  We'll shoot the reception activites together.   Sometime between dinner and the exit, we'll make sure to eat cake and take a selfie - usually as we discuss how to cover the exit.  

Expectations - You

  • Be Reliable.  If we agree to work together, don't cancel at the last minute.   Stay for the full time we've agreed to.   
  • Work hard.   We're going to be moving and moving.   I never want a guest to second guess if we are working or not.  We are friendly and talk to the guests and other vendors, but it's quick and we make sure we're finding shots to take.  
  • Always do the right things.   This means being honest, trustworthy, exercise good judgement, etc.   You're an extension of me that day and this is very important to me.  
  • Be professional.  We dress the part (business casual or as required).  We don't swear.  We don't flirt.  We don't drink alcohol (even if offered).  
  • You represent my company during the event.   Do not hand out your own business cards or add clients to your social media.   This just causes issues later and is not professional.   If anyone asks about our company, refer them to me (or hand them one of my business cards).
  • Photo Ownership.  Upon completion of the wedding day, after making sure there is data in both cards, you'll hand me back my card; you keep the other.   The photos you take under my company belong to me; however, you are welcome to edit/play with and even use the images for your portfolio.   Do not post any photos to social media within the first 90 days of the wedding.  Do not tag clients.  
  • After Wedding Questions.  If anyone from the wedding/party contacts you for any questions, additional pictures, etc., simply refer them to me. 

Expectations - Your Gear

  • Our equipment is ready and reliable.   Test your camera before the day.  Triple check that all batteries are charged. Make sure your settings are set to dual record in RAW.  Lenses should be micro-calibrated to your camera ahead of time. If you don't know how to do this for a Canon, let me know and I can assist. 
  • Our equipment is of high quality.  Full frame cameras with dual card slots.  Professional red ring lenses (or equivalent).  Robust gear that can stand up to the elements.   We'll always have light equipment for receptions (or indoor locations).  Youneed at least (1) on-camera flashExternal flashes are a plus.   If you suspect any issues with your gear, rectify it before the wedding. 
  • Knowledge of Light. Knowledgeable of flash/off camera flash, how to use a reflector and diffuser.  We need to master natural light and artificial.  

Expectations - Me

  • Mutual respect. I will treat with you with respect and as a partner.   
  • Compensation. I will pay you our agreed upon amount before the end of the wedding day coverage. 
  • Knowledge sharing and support. Whatever I can do to teach, advice or help you, I will be happy to share. 
  • Cake. We will eat cake and take selfies.


  • Charge batteries.  I recommend 2-3 batteries per camera and atleast enough for 2 or 3 flash battery changes. 
  • Test equipment (take pictures of things around your house with flash and make sure it's capable of firing 5-6 images in quick succession and it able to trigger other flashes (if you use off camera).
  • Memory cards. Reformat cards prior to the day.  During the day, do not delete files as we shoot.  This may corrupt cards. 
  • Clothing.  Business casual . Lots of deodorant.  Bring an extra shirt (in case of a spill, a hot day, etc. Wear comfortable shoes. 
  • Hyrdrate. Drink lots of liquids starting the day before the wedding, during, and after the wedding to stay hydrated.
  • Goldilocks rule for quantity shooting:  Don't shoot too much or too little.  For reference, I typically finish a wedding using 2 cameras with 2000 photos.  I deliver usually 100 finished photos per hour (800 total average).  Most my second shooters will shoot anywhere between 1000-2000 images.   Photographer fatigue (where someone gets tired of their picture being taken) is also a real thing.  Every shot we take where the wedding couple, family, or guest have to smile has a cost.   We don’t' want to over shoot them so much during the “getting ready” session that they don't want to smile for the portrait session.   Or, we interrupt the first dance by jumping in there so much that the guests can't enjoy it.  
  • Communicate often.  Let me know what lens you’re using, if you have an idea, if I’m in your frame, etc. Especially let me know if you think you missed a shot of the first kiss (this shot is your primary responsibility because of your position in the center aisle).  That way, I can check my photos.  In a worst case scenario, we can ask the couple to recreate it. This is an extreme example, but the principle is that it’s better to troubleshoot early rather than when we're already home and I can't find a certain shot you were supposed to take.  
  • Have fun!