Three Cheers for 2nd Shooters - Chicago Fine Art Wedding Photography
Hey Friends! It's me. Meg Imhoff. The other half that makes up Jordan Imhoff Photography. For those of you who don't know who in the world I am, I'd love to introduce myself! At first, I wondered if it was a mistake to have graduated with a BA in Theater, but you know what? Those skills are exactly what I needed for my life and this incredible job I get to be a part of! Because, I wear a whole lot of hats in this current season of life. (And a whole lot of baby food on Disney World sweatshirts too, but that's a different blog post.) If I had to break down all of my titles right now, I'd break them up in this order:
- Wife to Jordan Imhoff (bow chicka wow!)
- Momma to my babies. My treasure.
- Co-Business owner of Jordan Imhoff Photography. (I love this gig.)
- Professional 2nd Shooter (sounds boring and a little bit blah right? But, it's become something that I LOVE and feel proud of! I'll tell you why down below!)
- Unofficial wedding day timeline guidance counselor
- Wedding Day cheerleader, bag holder, veil & dress fluffer, and sometimes a human light stand
- Wedding Album Designer
- Head of all our Social media handles
Just the other day, we had a really fun meeting with fellow artists (we cannot WAIT to shoot their wedding this year!) It's always so refreshing to get filled up and inspired by the joy and creativity that other artists and entrepreneurs carry! One of the questions they asked us specifically was about the roles we each play in this gig. As we went back and forth about our different jobs and responsibilities, I realized that when I mentioned that little part about being our 2nd shooter, I didn't just throw it out there as if I were the 2nd rate photog in this duo, but I was seriously PROUD of being our 2nd shooter. When we first started out about 7 years ago, the thought of picking up a camera (or even learning how to work a camera) gave me a nervous breakdown. I didn't go to school for it. Jordan did. Plus, I did NOT want any pressure of being responsible for capturing someone's greatest day of their life. Yeeeeaaaaaah, No. Then as we started to book more and more weddings, Jordan really started encouraging me to learn and even practice a bit while we were on the job. No pressure and just for fun. Well, let's just say that eventually I feel in love and we started offering packages with a 2nd shooter. Today, we wouldn't have it any other way.
But, hold up. Can I be really honest about something? The first couple years of being a 2nd shooter did NOT come natural to me. I had to learn. Not just about how to use my camera, composition, lighting, yada yada yada, but what it really means to be a kick-A second shooter. For two years of my job, I actually kinda felt a little bit useless. I felt like I was basically a safety net. In some instances, I even felt a bit bored. Because I knew that Jordan could shoot the entire day and delivery a gorgeous wedding gallery without me. And in all honesty, he could. I didn't want to feel bored or just the safety net any more. I wanted to find purpose in my role every weekend. Not just purpose in being the encourager, the cheerleader, the dress/veil wrangler, bag holder, and in some instances, the human light stand, But purpose for my role behind the camera. I knew that Jordan was capturing all the main events. I know he knows to focus on the bride, the groom, and all the closest people to them. So, what the heck would he need my shots for? Especially since he is most often stationed in the most flattering angel to shoot from.
My job as the 2nd shooter is never 2nd rate. I get to capture every single moment that Jordan doesn't have the luxury to capture while he focuses on the main events. I remember one particular reception. We were capturing the Father of the Bride's speech at the reception. I knew Jordan was grabbing everything important. The father speaking at the mic and the Bride & Groom's reactions to the speech. I happened to be standing behind the Bride and Groom and I noticed how adorable they were holding hands at their sweetheart table. Now that is something that he, as the head shooter, wouldn't have the luxury of noticing during that moment. But I did! Heck, that's what I was there for. So, I've made it my challenge to grab as many photos that Jordan wouldn't be able to see as possible. Will those little moments most likely be framed and hung above the bed or the big wall above the couch? Probably not, but you never know!
When it's time to start designing our couples' albums, I always ask them to send me their top 25 favorite images from their day. The images they want to be sure are showcased as the focal points. It NEVER creases to surprise me which photos they favorite! In all honesty, it's very rarely the perfectly light and composed photos that we get all excited about and want to make a part of our portfolio! It's usually the photo that took place in the church basement between the Bride and her father just moments before he walks her down the aisle. ...The church basement that is still stuck in the 1970's with fluorescent lighting and dark walls. It's her favorite photo because she will always remember exactly how she felt in that moment. It's not necessarily going to be showcased on our website's portfolio, but it's going to be showcased in her album. Because to her, despite the brown walls and the fluorescent lighting that inevitabley forced us to make it a black & white, that photo is what the day is all about. What our jobs are all about. Making sure we do not miss out on the most important moment. Whether those moments are aesthetically pinterest worthy, or 1970's church basement worthy. Wedding photography happens SO fast. We can't re-stage that tender look between her and her dad. We can't necessarily ask his to give her a kiss on the cheek again. We just have to make sure we are anticipating those moments and capturing them in the best way we possibly can when they take place.
...So, back to celebrating the joys of being our 2nd shooter. Do you want to know the only person who gets to bare witness to a whole lot of those behind the scenes moments? Your's truly. Because, there's no way Jordan has the luxury of leaving the front of the church where he's stationed to grab the processional shots. Now, if there's no better reason why you can't afford to NOT skip out on a second shooter, then I don't know what is.
Not only do I have the luxury of getting to capture those sweet private moments taking place behind the scenes of the main events, but sometimes I get to be stationed in safety net places that can save a few really important moments. If we could plan out every single wedding to be perfectly lit from arrival to departure, trust us, we would. We're light obsessed. But, that's not real life. Sometime we have to shoot an outdoor ceremony at noon and there's not a cloud or shade from a tree in sight. (Every wedding photog's biggest challenge. We've all been there.) So, that's when I get the luxury of shots and angles that can sometimes help to save the poorly lit area Jordan has to be stationed at so he doesn't miss the main event.
This photo of the Bride walking down the aisle was captured by Jordan from the front of the aisle. Super sweet moment of the two of them, but, the sun was intense, so what was usable were the moment when the Bride and her father happened to be walking through a random patch of shade.
Here is what I could see from my perspective at the 2nd Shooter. I wasn't able to see the sweet glances exchanged between the two of them. But, if I wasn't there, they wouldn't be able to see just how epic and grand this processional was from Jordan's main event station.
There have also been occasions where my safety shots were life savers. Here's an example: At this particular wedding, we were capturing the Bride and Groom being introduced into their reception. Jordan was stationed in the front so he could see the Bride & Groom's reactions. I was shooting from above and behind. At the exact moment when Jordan was shooting, he was moved out of the way by a guest with their phone. The guest (out of excitement, not malice) jumped out of their chair and blocked Jordan's camera at the exact moment and was then joined by about 10 other excited guests with phone cameras. Honestly, it happens all the time these days. But, it didn't matter because my view was their as a safety net and that moment wasn't forgotten. Here's an example of those alternate safety shots:
And just for fun, here are our two perspectives earlier on this wedding day during the ceremony. The flower girl was just not into having to walk down that aisle. Her brilliant mom & dad let her play a favorite game on one of their phones just so she could walk down the aisle, and in all honesty, watching this sweet little darling struggle and finally get coaxed into walking was adorable, So, naturally all eyes were on her. Jordan was able to get her once she was closer down the aisle, but I got a bird's eye view watching the initial struggle. I'm in love with the image from above of watching that phone gift and her aquiescence below.
I think it goes without saying that our most favorite times to capture two different perspective are during this first looks (Of course, the Bride & Groom's first look, but also the family member's first looks.) Here is the Bride's father's series of reactions as he saw his daughter in her gown for the first time. Jordan was focused on the bride at this moment and I was focused on mom & dad. This series of images is EVERYTHING that the day is about. This sums up the very reason we should all have two photographers there to capture both perspectives on our wedding day. No, these shots are not perfectly composed. They aren't staged. We didn't set this up or tell them where to stand and where the best light it. But, they were captured and this bride gets to forever member this tender moment with her parents.
And last, but not least, do you want to know my absolute favorite moments I seem to catch and focus on throughout the day? It might be because I'm a mom, but I am obsessed with watching the wedding day through eyes of the kids there! We both naturally gravitate towards them because we just plain love our kids and find pure joy in childhood, but again, I get to be the one who has the luxury of taking the time to focus on those perspectives while Jordan focuses on the Bride, Groom, and main events. Here are just some of my most favorite moments I've noticed while Jordan is focused on the big moments:
So, to all of my fellow 2nd shooter homies out there, you are so important and irreplaceable! OWN what you do! Strive to find as many moments and perspectives that your head photog doesn't necessarily have the luxury to seek out! ...And Brides, don't let your wedding take place without us.