I’ve probably shot over 60 weddings so far, but I’ve never shot a wedding without my wife, Karissa. Until now.
We’ve been shooting weddings together for about four years and she has always been the point person, and I’ve always been the “second shooter”.
Her relational approach to photography earns the trust of her clients, and as a by-product they often end up relying on her to make sure the day goes as planned! And she’s great at it….detail-oriented, task-oriented, a planner…just fantastic.
This time I shot a wedding with my friend Brad for his cousin, who got married near Springfield, Illinois. Brad and I have both been second shooters, but neither have ever really been The shooter for a wedding.
We had a blast, especially once we got into a groove and the day got going. But there were many things throughout the day that made me appreciate Karissa’s leadership and talents on a wedding day.
Here are the three biggest ones.
Karissa is fantastic at finding a way to make people look flattering yet natural. There were many times when I was in a moment where I was frantically trying to remember the things I’ve heard Karissa tell people to do for pictures.
I’ve got my “stand by the window and kind of smile but not really” move and then after that a lot of improvisation. Karissa has a huge library of ideas, both reliable stand-bys and new things she’d like to try.
2. Relating to the women
Usually it’s the women that run the show on a wedding day, and Karissa does a great job of developing relationships with them throughout the day. She’s the kind of girl who brings out the best in other girls. They trust Karissa.
I, on the other hand, am a male….so…yeah, pretty much had zero relationship with the mother of the bride, mother of the groom, bridesmaids, and bride all day. That’s a big deal! I can do my best to be thoughtful and encouraging, but no matter how fun or friendly I am, they’re not going to let me past a certain point emotionally, and that’s another thing that Karissa does well. They let her in. And that allows Karissa to do things and get shots that I never could.
3. Social strength
This is perhaps the most underrated aspect of wedding photography: managing a huge group of people. All day.
The grooms can especially be exhausting. Some of them wear out on pictures very quickly, and some of them don’t want to be in pictures at all, and then the bride has to try to act like he’s not always a butthead…and we’re never allowed to say, “It’s your freaking wedding day, could you at least ACT like you’re glad to be here?”
The photographer basically has to stay “up” all day. Always excited, always optimistic, always energetic. Because if they don’t, that will start to wear off on people and come through in the photos. It also will impact people’s view of the photographer and the way that they interact with them.
Karissa has incredible social strength, an ability to maintain a positive, engaging, forward-moving vibe through the course of an entire wedding day—often ten or twelve hours!
The expectations and tone of this wedding weren’t intense because it was basically a favor/gift for a family member, so I had a great time with Brad trying some new things and solving problems on our own.
But at the end of the day, my take-away from shooting a wedding without Karissa is that she’s in a different class of photography, and the value that she brings to a wedding day goes well beyond what most people can see or know.