How Can I Be a More Prepared Second-Shooter?

Hi Kayla!
I'm at the beginning of my photography journey, and I'm super excited to be second-shooting some weddings with local photographers this season.  This will be a first for me, and I was hoping you could give me some advice on what I should bring / do / not bring / not do / etc.  What would you appreciate if I was working for you?

Thanks for any help!
First-Time Second-Shooter

My cute second-shooter (and husband) helping me with things like reaching tall places. ;)

My cute second-shooter (and husband) helping me with things like reaching tall places. ;)

Dear First-Time Second-Shooter,

Congrats on photographing your first weddings with primary photographers this season!  I'm so excited for you!  I love that you're thinking ahead and wanting to be well prepared!  Below is my best advice for when you're second-shooting:

1.  Communicate Expectations.  Learning from experience - every primary photographer (and second photographer) has different expectations.  The best way to ensure that everyone is on the same page is to talk it out!  It can be nerve-wrecking, especially when you're beginning, but it's so important to make sure you're both on the same page about what each of you is expecting from day-of, and after!  Talking about things like who's gear you'll be using, if you can use the images after the wedding (and how and when), payment details, and other things that one or both of you are concerned with, will save your sanity later.  

2.  Bring Anything and Everything That You Think May Be Helpful.  If you and the photographer agree that you'll be bringing your own gear, make sure that you're well prepared; batteries are charged, gear is clean, you have extra memory cards, etc.  Additionally, make sure to pack extra things that may help your photographer; extra AA + AAA batteries, rubber bands, bobby pins, safety pins, $5 in case of emergencies, etc.  If your photographer is in a pinch and needs an extra AA on the fly, they'll probably happy squeal when you pop one out of your bag -- you're there to have their back after all.  ;)

3.  Have Good Etiquette.  This can be different for everyone - but in a nutshell, I chalk it up to using general good manners, and then going above and beyond.  You're there to make the photographers life easier, and to serve as a wonderful addition on this couples special day.  Being a second shooter, you've got a bit less stress, and maybe a bit more time to slow down.  This gives you the opportunity to love on everyone there, to hold the door open for Grandma, help a bridesmaid tie her sash, grab the couple a glass of water, help carry bags for your primary photographer, etc.  Being alert and ready to help others with a smile will brighten everyone's day, and will reflect well on your primary photographer.  However, it takes a tight-rope type of balance -- you must also be ready for your photographer at the drop of a hat (AKA not disappearing because someone needed help on the other side of the resort), and you'll need to notice the moments that it's best to step back and let the moments happen so that the day is unfolding naturally and you're not in their intimate moments.  

4.  Notice Your Primary.  When photographing a wedding, it's great to have another point of view, but also a different type of shot.  So, notice your primary - glance over at them.  Are they using their 70-200?  Pop on your 35mm.  Are they shooting with their 50mm?  Use your 70-200 for a bit.  Noticing where your primary is and what they're using, and doing something different will help them have a good variety of images for the final delivery.  

5.  Have Fun!  Wedding days are so much fun!  They can get wild and busy - but stay calm and do your best!  Remember, you're there to be helpful, and to capture this couples special day -- and as long as you do both of those things, everything will be great! :)

I hope this helps guide you through, and gives you a starting point to great success in weddings!  Cheers to a wonderful wedding season!