Wedding Photography: 10 Pieces of Advice for Assistants

I recently had the opportunity to assist a Toronto wedding photographer. This was my first opportunity, outside of internships, where I was able to get my foot into the real photography world. You can bet money on the fact that I did not want to mess it up. Between panic attacks and triple checking my bag, I eventually arrived to the wedding venue in one piece.

Most online articles about the do’s and don’t’s of wedding photography discuss technical tips. “Use a wide aperture.” “Pose the bride.” “Pay attention to detail.” “Consult beforehand.” “Organize a shot list.” However, many articles don’t mention the experiences behind-the-scenes.

Here are 10 tips and tricks I learned on the day of the wedding that will definitely stick with me for future opportunities! (Note: Though these are wedding photography specific, they can also apply to moving up in any career).

1. Shoes:

Wear comfortable ones. Even though my shoes were not the most attractive pair, I lasted the entire day without any pain. A good trick: Pack an extra pair of shoes and socks in your car. A sock change can make or break ya!

2. Clothing:

Although this is a wedding I’m talking about, wear something you can move in. As photographers, we cannot be afraid to bend and shoot at all angles. Personally, I never like to wear dresses when photographing because they prevent me from freely moving and capturing all the beautiful moments.

3. Snacks:

Photographing weddings means you need to be on your feet from morning until night. Other than the one meal you get that day, you need to keep your energy up. Pack a bottle of water, a source of protein and granola bars. I learned this the hard way, as I never thought to bring snacks.

4. Equipment:

Even though I was acting as the assistant, I learned to keep all my equipment charged and ready to go. Don’t forget to bring back up batteries and cards. Pack light, as you will be on the go and may need to carry the other photographer’s equipment. It’s always awkward to say, “Hold on a minute, let me just get my eight bags,” when someone’s asking you for help.

5. Observe:

Keep an eye on the head photographer and second shooter. Being an assistant really is a great learning opportunity and observing can help you achieve unique future shots.

6. Be proactive:

If both the head photographer and second shooter are working with the wedding party, shoot some candids of the guests and family members. You never know what shots you can get when people think no one is watching. Plus, the people you’re working for will be proud of you for taking initiative.

7. Volunteer:

If the head photographer or second shooter has an errand to run, volunteer to do it. Getting on their good side may get you a second job.

8. Be yourself:

Even if you’re nervous or shy, don’t forget to show your personality. The family and head photographers will appreciate your energy and enthusiasm. Plus, when you’re being yourself, people see that as confidence and confidence is what gets you future opportunities.

9. Ask for feedback:

Either throughout the day or after the wedding, feel free to ask the head photographer for feedback on your photos and your work ethic. No matter how experienced you are, there are always ways you can improve. Asking for suggestions, constructive criticism and advice will show that you really care about your work.

10. Have fun:

This is one of the most important tips I have for your first wedding. Relax and enjoy the day. As the assistant, you’re there to observe, help and shoot from a different perspective. One day, when you’re a big wedding photographer, you may not have the time to appreciate how beautiful the flower girl’s hair is or how cute it is that the junior usher is wearing a blue polka-dotted bow tie. Appreciate. Appreciate. Appreciate!

Candid photo taken from previous family wedding.

My first wedding turned out to be an experience I will never forget. The second shooter and I spent most of the day laughing and sharing his secret stash of Tic-Tacs. The extended family was incredibly nice and asked about my future plans. The bride personally checked in on me to see if I received my dinner. The groomsmen would offer goofy poses for me to photograph when the bride and bridesmaids were the centre of attention. The head photographer trusted me to capture detailed shots of the reception hall.

Although I was not able to keep my photographs for my portfolio, once all the photos are edited I will receive a link to my work. For any photographers out there looking for an assistant, remember Meaghan DeClerq.



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