I remember what it was like to build my wedding portfolio. It was so frustrating! I wanted to book weddings, but the only way I was going to book weddings was to have a portfolio, and the only way I was going to have a portfolio was to book weddings.
It seemed unending and while I was grateful for the opportunities I received to second shoot alongside amazing photographers, I felt limited to only shooting what I felt they needed or wanted me to shoot. It clicked one day, while shooting an amazing wedding, that I could shoot for the main photographer in their style and also shoot for my portfolio in the style that I wanted to show to couples. Little did I realize that at the same time, I was also enhancing the portfolio of the lead photographer and providing the couple with a more diverse wedding collection from their wedding day. It was a win/win situation.
Rather than approaching the day and feeling limited when I showed up to a wedding that I was second shooting for another photographer, below are a few things that I did that helped me build my portfolio as a second shooter:
Shoot with a different lens
If the main photographer is shooting with a wider lens, try shooting with a long lens. Rather than shadowing the main photographer in order to capture the same shot they’re getting, shooting with a different lens and focusing on a different perspective of the shot that has been set up will not only give the main photographer something different but also capture a more intimate look of the moment you are capturing.
Get a different angle
Take a step back… or to the side… or crouch down. Whatever it takes to get a different perspective.
Anticipate reactions and be ready
Shooting reactions can create beautiful, candid portraits that perspective couples love. A bride not only wants to see herself and her groom in pictures, but she also wants to see loved family members and friends enjoying the day, too.
When shooting a different angle of a pose set up by the main photographer and the main photographer asks the couple to engage in activity, i.e. walking towards her and looking at each other as they’re walking, capturing a side view of the bride as she smiles and looks at her groom makes for a sweet shot.
Get creative outside of the ceremony
Use cocktail hour is an opportunity to capture amazing portraits of guests as well as amazing shots of details and passed hors d’oeuvre. Having these shots in your portfolio will show couples that can you shoot details.
While it shouldn’t be your primary mindset and you should meet the needs of the main photographer that you are working with first and foremost, you should also approach the day with the mindset that with just a few, simple things, you can also capture beautiful images from the day that will help you build your wedding portfolio.
(as a side note…all of these images were shot by my second shooter)
Isabel March is a wedding and parenthood photographer based out of Quakertown, Pennsylvania. With a relaxed approach, she crafts timeless and authentic photographs for fun-loving couples and families, focusing on natural emotions and strong connections.