Due to COVID-19 regulations and my absence from the photography world for a few years, it had been quite some time since I got to participate in a classic wedding. Fortunately, in June, I was given the opportunity to join my mentor, Hannah Rose Gray, and our other team member Charlotte as a second shooter for a local wedding here in Flagstaff.
The morning of the wedding I actually double booked and met with a family of 11 earlier in the day to help celebrate a Phoenix family's 50th wedding anniversary get together! Once that task was wrapped up and taken care of I zipped home to change into my wedding work clothes, had some food and was on my way again. Something that immediately made this wedding so fun to work is that it was held at the same venue Hannah's team and I did a wedding training a few weeks prior - so it was like really putting our learnings into action. It was also the first time the three of us were able to work together as a team. We each took on one task to start: Hannah took over detail shots of the invitations, rings and florals while Charlotte headed to the groomsmen suite for the Groom's getting ready portraits and I headed to the bridesmaid suite for their getting ready shots. Right as I walked in one of the bridesmaids said, "we were about to pray over the bride!" I said, "Oh my goodness perfect timing! Do you mind if I get shots during?" They were thrilled!
This was the first time in my entire photography career that I wasn't the primary photographer at a wedding and the first time we actually had three photographers on location, which made the day flow efficiently - more efficiently than any wedding I'd ever attended. Once we regrouped we worked together on dress shots, getting the bride into her dress with her mother and first looks before heading to the forest for some bridal party photos. I felt so happy with the first look shots we were able to capture. The excitement of the bridal party, the sweetness between the bride + groom - those emotions are almost hard to truly define or put into words. The big and little moments before the ceremony are packed with the most buzzy energy ever and it's like we're frozen in time (despite a general feeling of anticipation, making sure things are running on time, etc).
For the bridal party photos we went into the forest and actually didn't end up at the place Hannah had originally planned for-- but it all worked out! There was on and off cloud cover that gave some unique contrast and variety to the photos. The group looked gorgeous, and although many of my shots were off to the side of covering interactions in-between "the shot", I did manage to snap a few shots that I really loved. The ceremony photos were this way as well. Second shooting is kind of that way, I'm learning! You have to trust the primary photographer or other photographers you're working with to get "THE" shot and your goal is to honor more of the smaller in-between moments. It's a really different way to move through a wedding day, but when we talked about it later we all agreed that it relieved a lot of the pressure for the whole team to be able to delegate, step back when we needed a break, or step in when someone else needed a break. That camaraderie and teamwork is something that I hadn't really experienced in the photography industry before. After working solo for most of my photography career, it's definitely challenging releasing responsibility or sharing responsibility with others, however it's been a major asset to my overall feeling of community. I learn a lot more about myself and my craft by sharing the load and I find I can offer more to our clients.
One of my favorite second shooter tasks during this wedding was covering the cocktail hour and guest shots. When I'm the primary photographer I don't get to give this as much focus, but for Sam + Hannah's wedding I was able to really honor this part of their day. I kind of rode that path the rest of the day, too! During the sunset bridal portraits of the couple (which the primary photography had covered) I was captivated by their guests reactions as they watched from a distance, during the dance parties I was definitely having a blast capturing the liveliness there. And with some new flash techniques from my mentor I was even more inspired and intrigued going into the dance party of the night.
I'm excited, after this wedding, to get back into primary shooting weddings on the regular. I think in the past I felt a scary kind of pressure about being deemed a "wedding photographer". But after Sam and Hannah's wedding it just reminded me how much fun and beauty those days bring. Getting to be behind the scenes, experiencing the most raw and sweet moments with the bride, groom and their closest loved ones is the closest thing to magic I've ever experienced. I spoke on this in an Instagram post recently, because I know that marriage, love, weddings and relationships aren't everyone's cup of tea. But love, whether it's between another couple, babies and their parents, siblings, friends or my own partner and I, is the thing that makes life meaningful to me. And now that events and the ability to connect with one another is becoming part of our reality again after COVID, love is even more magical to be part of.
Psst... know someone getting married?
I have a limited time offer for couples who book their wedding with Nettik Photography to save over $800.00 between now and September 2021. Just mention this blog when you fill out my Wedding Inquiry Form here.