Having my wife, Jennifer, second-shoot for me allows me the freedom to get creative, where most shooters have to 'lock-it-down'.
Jennifer is the one you'll see holding flashes, moving strobes and angling reflectors. And then, when you are not looking, she takes the picture that you blow up on your wall...
System-wise, Jennifer is with the guys when they are getting ready, and I am with the bride. Then once we meet again as the ceremony is about to start, Jennifer is at the front of the church and I am at the back. The pictures of the bride coming down the aisle are delivered by Jennifer, while I am taking in the whole scene from the rear. From there we circle around, each of us with two cameras (one with a telephoto, one with a wide-angle) and shoot the service. Between the big moments (vows, ring exchange, first kiss), we are both looking for emotion from the parents and grandparents; we are documenting both the birth of a new family, and the people witnessing it.
When processing begins, and the images are loaded into my computer, beyond a few images that I remember taking, I have no idea who shot what. Our cameras are synchronized and the files are loaded according to the time shot, not by the camera used.
When the ceremony ends, the receiving line begins. We try to capture the tears and kisses as family and friends wish the new couple well, and Jennifer goes into high gear. She shoots over, around and under people, while trying her best to stay out of the way and not disrupt the flow. Usually it's pretty easy - I stand on one side of the receiving line and Jennifer stands on the other. Problems arise however, when the receiving line takes place against a wall, and there is no other side.
That's when Jennifer takes over, sneaks in behind the bride, and using a wide angle lens, gets some beautiful shots.
From the receiving line, she turns from shooter into assistant for the portrait sessions. Her specialty is making sure the details don't get missed: hand placement, flowers pointing in the right directions and making the youngest members of the wedding party smile!
From there, we usually end up rushing back to the reception and shooting the details that so much work was put into. My trust in Jennifer's abilities allows me to experiment while knowing that, if my best efforts should ever fail, Jennifer will deliver the goods.
I can shoot images like these:
Because I know that Jennifer has images like these:
During the dinner and speeches, we have 4 strobes set up that we share (2 apiece) and trigger with radio transmitters on our cameras. Again, we are looking for the raw emotion that usually exhbits itself at this point in the day, when everyone is a little tired, but the pressure of the day is gone. The cork is out of the bottle, and people's emotions come boiling out the top. During processing, the images that I like viewing most, are the stolen glances between the bride and groom, when they believe that nobody is looking. The ones where you can just see how much love there is.
Then it's time for the first dance, and we DEFINITELY have a system built for that. Jennifer now takes charge of all the strobes, and her trigger is set up to control them in two groups of two, or all four lights at once, depending on what she feels she needs. I set up speedlight flashguns on the edges of the dancefloor. Jennifer shoots some of the most beautiful pictures of couples dancing you will ever see (I'm convinced that it's her addiction to 'Dancing With The Stars'). This is where our styles truly separate, but become most complimentary.
My style now looks for drama, and Jennifer's ability to capture great images gives me the freedom to play...
I also find our views on the father/daughter dance to be likewise different, but complimentary. Jennifer's focus is on the bride, while mine is on the father...
And I found this as an example of our yin/yang...
Two images, taken seconds apart, show how differently we see things.
Because of the way we shoot, we allow each other to be ourselves, and never trample on the other's feet. I light for drama, while Jennifer uses what's available to it's maximum. However, once the processing begins, that's all me. We DO see the world differently, and we've discovered that, in order to keep ourselves sane, only one of us can push the buttons that take the images to the next level.
Of course, after I'm done, Jennifer checks it over and makes sure it's okay...