I recently was a first time back up shooter with my husband. First of all even if it’s a small wedding it will be very physically and mentally challenging. Prepare!
1. yourself: get good night sleep, wear comfy clothing & shoes, tie hair back, bring snacks, wear watch, have cell #’s programmed in phone, cell charger, list of photos you need in your pocket (inspiration, details, names etc). Wear pants with pockets!!! necessary for lens caps, phone etc. have schedule of day w/times, locations, names etc. Know where closest walmart or radio shack is. bring umbrella. Know who has cameras at the wedding or friends/neighbors nearby. Know the directions to everywhere and when you’re suppose to show up.
2. triple check your gear. bring back up everything! test everything! batteries, cards, cords, chargers anything! bring tape to mark places on ground, good carrying bag. have a back up plan. Make sure you have enough memory! Or be able to safely transfer to laptop. If you don’t have an item beg, borrow and plead if you have friends who do. Including extra bodies, cards, batteries, lenses, reflectors, flashs, lights etc. Even 1 light in a big room with umbrella set to slave could save your entire set of reception photos!
3. take charge! People are VERY frazzled wedding day. Nerves, excitment, alcohol, family dynamics, new people, etc produce a lot of crazy people who will not tell you what to do. They expect you to do your job without involving them unless that is to tell them where to stand. Unless there is a wedding coordinator YOU must keep time!
4. Be friendly and professional. Don’t feel afraid to tell people where to stand or where to look, smile etc. Ask someone (MOH or family member) to help if you need assistance in family/group photos. Tell everyone especially the bride they look amazing! This is great to hear from your photographer! They’ll love it! Tell them the photos look great as you’re taking them.
5. Be Confident: Always (pretend or) act like you know what you’re doing. Technical questions shouldn’t be voiced out loud for guests to hear. Never look down at your screen and make a yuck face – there is always something looking at you! For every good photo there will be 10 more bad ones so don’t dwell on those. Act like this isn’t your first (even if people know it is). If you run out of battery or memory during the middle of something and you can’t step away, don’t put your camera down – fake it. I mean if you REALLY can’t get to your bag – like you’re in the middle of everyone and it’d be clear you’ll miss that shot.
6. Be one step ahead: know which lens or setting you’ll use when they do X. First kiss, first look, first dance, walk back down the aisle etc. Judge the lighting and know what setting you’ll use when it happens. B/c it’ll happen before you know it and have a chance to think!
7. make sure you’re on the same page as the bride. timing, details, logistics, expectations, rainy day plan, etc. Speak with her before so you get the info and can prepare.