June 7, 2016

Our Wedding Day Division of Labor!


One of the questions we get asked most often at workshops is how Justin & I divide up the wedding day. Is one of us the main shooter all day & the other acts as second shooter? Do we take turns? How do we know who takes the lead?

And the truth is on wedding days, we have just about a 50/50 even split for the different parts of the day on which of us acts as the lead photographer (even if at most weddings the older men we run into like the venue owners just assume I’m Justin’s assistant! Not quite, buddy! :)

So today we thought it would be fun (and hopefully helpful!) to break down the different parts of the day where I take the lead, and the ones where Justin does. In other words, what makes for A Good Division of Labor for a Two Photographer Team. Here we go!


Mary’s Role on a Wedding Day

*Bridal Details. I take the lead on styling and shooting almost all of the bridal details. Justin might shoot a few images of the dress, but mostly the details stay with me.
*Bridal Portraits & Getting Ready. Both Justin & I will definitely try to shoot the bride getting ready & her portraits after together, but I take the lead as the main photographer & person doing the Iconic Bridal Portrait posing during this part.
*Couple Portraits. As the one who specializes more in our authentic posing, I tend to be the one closer to the couple and directing them for their portraits, changing locations, and making sure we have good coverage.
*Wedding Party Portraits. Similar to the above, I tend to be the one posing & organizing the wedding party into all of our different poses. And then Justin & I will take turns shooting the big group shots while the other is grabbing detail shots & “slices of life” from the side.
*Family Portraits. Because we kept running into the problem of families looking in different directions when we were both shooting (and not getting everyone looking at one camera in the shot), we decided that only Justin would shoot the family portraits while I take on the role of organizing them, posing them, and checking off the master list we have!
*Ceremony. Come the ceremony time, I take on more of the second shooter role. My jobs are to get photos of the bride with her dad before the ceremony, to get wide shots of the ceremony from the back, to shoot details at the ceremony like programs and aisle flowers, to get photos of the parents looking on, and to get secondary coverage of the bride & groom during key moments.
*Reception details. This is maybe the closest we come to both being main shooters at the same time, and that’s usually because we have so much to cover…and both enjoy shooting the details. If we’re in a really tough lighting situation though, then I will take on the role of lighting assistant (moving the light & creating the angles) so that Justin can move fast while shooting & cover the details faster with really good light.
*Reception. This is another one of those places where I definitely take on a more second shooter role, and Justin with all of his incredible lighting skills really…(pun totally intended) shines. I still shoot to get double coverage of everything, but his gorgeously lit reception shots are definitely our strongest!


Justin’s Role on a Wedding Day

*Bride Getting Ready. While I’m shooting all of those styled details, Justin is being our candid storytelling shooter, getting all of those emotional moments of the morning and the actual hair & makeup getting ready shots.
*Groom Portraits & Getting Ready. Normally just Justin will go hang out with the guys to get the getting ready, Iconic Groom Portrait & groom detail shots. He’s able to blend in & be just one of the guys and I love that all of his shots end up looking like something straight out of Vanity Fair!
*Couple Portraits. While I’m up front doing most of the posing, Justin is working a longer lens focusing on those candid moments in between, the emotion & the slices of life. He is always ready though to jump in and do a little posing though while I look for the next location or set up. And during that part, he always remembers to grab several shots of both the bride & groom looking right at the camera or what we call the “for Grandma” shot! :)
*Wedding Party Portraits. Like I mentioned above, I tend to be the one posing & organizing the wedding party into all of our different poses. And then Justin & I will take turns shooting the big group shots while the other is grabbing detail shots & “slices of life” from the side. If we are in a time crunch though, I will grab the girls and he will grab the guys to help save time.
*Family Portraits. Justin is definitely our main (and only shooter) during the family photos. He’s in charge of getting the lighting just right and being sure to grab 3-4 verticals and 3-4 horizontal shots of each combo.
*Ceremony. Justin takes the lead during the ceremony. He gets all the lighting dialed in, is the one to talk to the pastor/priest/rabbi and is the one who is shooting with longer lenses to capture all of the emotion and key moments of the ceremony. He is also up front shooting the processional at the beginning (while I’m in the back with the bride & her dad). But keep in mind that we are both shooting the ceremony as if our shots would be the only ones…that way we make sure we have great coverage for the bride & groom, and it gives us a great mix of close crop & wider shots.
*Reception details. Like I mentioned above, this is one of the few places where we both take the lead just to make sure all those details get covered.
*Reception. If I start really strong in the first half of the day with all the details and portraits, Justin is definitely the one to carry us home strong! He really comes alive at the reception because nothing is scripted or posed and it’s all about candid moments and great lighting…his two favorite things! So he is definitely our lead shooter for that, again while keeping in mind that I am also shooting everything to make sure we have great coverage!

Ok, that’s it! Hopefully that was helpful & at least gave you a glimpse into our thought process for the wedding day! As always, feel free to leave any questions or requests for future Pancake Sessions in the comment box below…we’re all in this together!


**PS: If Lighting or Posing is something you know you need to work on, we can help with that!! Check out our J&M Lighting Bundle or Art of Authentic Posing in our J&M Store today by clicking over HERE

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  1. Jennie karges

    I love this post! So much info!!! I would honestly love to see how a timeline works out for you since you share alot of the load! I’d love to see how you fit in the reception details and bride and groom getting ready shots together! Would you be willing to share how you build your timelines??

  2. Jason and Amy

    Great post guys! How do you handle the first look? Do both of you shoot it? 2 different angles? Thanks

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