Second Photographer Tips: Bride/Groom Getting Ready

Curious to know what to expect or photograph during the bride or groom getting ready time?

This is one of my favorite times of the day, it’s one of the only times where the bride and groom are hanging out with JUST their best friends and close family members.

Help me gather bridal details

After I introduce you to everyone, I ask for where the dress and shoes are, and we get rolling! If second photographer and I are in the same vicinity for getting ready photos, then typically I will have the second shooter help me with gathering the bridal details to be photographed.

There is no need for the second photographer to necessarily be shooting anything while we are doing bridal details, unless you see a unique and fun candid moment!

Often times, the bride is having her hair or makeup done while we arrive, and there’s usually someone like the maid of honor or bride’s mother who knows where the bride’s stuff is. You and I will work on asking for certain stuff, and gathering everything to be photographed in window light, and sometimes placed on top of my styling mat in case there’s no good background.

  • bride’s dress (tags cut off, stuffing out, on a nice wood hanger that I have, if they have no special hanger) While I’m photographing the dress, I would love if the second shooter can work on collecting the other bridal detail items.
  • any jewelry the bride will put on
  • engagement ring, wedding bands (if there)
  • veil
  • shoes
  • garter
  • special handkerchief
  • any special jewelry box or keepsake box
  • vows
  • invitation
  • bouquets (all of them) – we most likely will bring the bouquets outside to be photographed.

When bridal details are finished, then typically by that time the guys are done showering or have all gathered together and the second photographer can focus on photographing the groom details and candids!

Groom Details

Often times one of the first things we do when we arrive at the hotel or house is to say hi to the groom and let him know what time Second Photographer will be coming back over. I remind him he can have his pants and shirt on at that time, but set aside the shoes, socks, jacket, vest, tie, any groom details for the second photographer.

First thing is to find window light and a clean background (no clutter) for photographing the details. Some photographers get crazy in photographing the outfit, but all I really care about is a couple shots of the jacket hanging up, and focus on the tie, socks (if they have a cool pattern), shoes.

Don’t forget about photographing any neat cufflinks!

Sometimes, such as in a hotel room, if the painting or wall art is too distracting in the lighting spot that you love, then you can move the wall art off as I did with these photos LOL.

I love this quick shot how this second shooter saw this and captured the best man’s speech written down on the hotel stationery.

Groom Getting Ready Candids

My “go-to” shots are not posed. PLEASE DO NOT POSE THE GROOM! I usually clear an area next to a window, shoot with 50mm lens, and ask for the groom to stand next to the window facing me, so that there’s side light, and have him put on his vest and etc there. You can use a reflector if you want, but I usually do NOT and just make sure my highlights are not too bright (bring up shadows in post).

If there’s a chair in the spot, that’s awesome (sometimes I’ll move furniture)

Once you think you get your lighting, distance, and camera settings right, you’ll ask the groom to put on his tux and shoes there in that area. You’ll be shooting all candids and motion. If you feel the groom needs some direction, or if you need to get the shot again, feel free to just ask him any of the following for these groom portraits:

  • “un-button/button your jacket”
  • “button your jacket as you’re looking out the window”
  • “Show me your cufflinks” (zoom into/get close to the hands)
  • “Nice watch! Can you show it to me?”
  • “Adjust your tie”
  • To get different expressions & candids, ask “How did you meet your fiance?” or like “what was your first impression of her?”
try to zoom in as he is buttoning his jacket, or putting in cufflinks.
I used bounce flash with this shot.

For putting on the tie, sometimes the best man or dad will help the groom put it on for him. They can do it in that window light, or go over to a mirror. If they go to a mirror in the bathroom, you might want to shoot with a speedlite bounced from the ceiling, or high ISO.

Often times if you see the groom working on his hair (or beard!), I will catch candids of this. Again, bouncing the flash (usually on ETTL)

After putting on the shoes, one great shot on that chair is just to have the groom sit with his arms across his knees, leaning forward and looking straight into the camera. Stare into the camera as if you were looking at your future self (you may get some laughs LOL)

This shot is really corny, but I like what my second shooter did here because this is TOTALLY Joey. If you feel that this is totally something the groom should do (often it’s a groomsman’s idea) or if you want to get a little more creative, have at it….!!!! But if not, no worries.

Groom Getting Ready Candids with Guys

Here are some common things that happen with the groom, that I love captured!

Groom’s mommy seeing him for the first time that day!
Groom ready the vows.
Last “hurrah” drink and cheers, or in some cases, shots. Most times I shoot this from above, but in this moment I had another photographer shoot from the other angle.
Guys being funny.
Groom handing out any groomsmen gifts. You can also do close-ups of the gifts later if you’d like. Especially if they’re really cool gifts with engraving.
Guys just hanging out and chilling out.
Guys just being naturally crazy!
Mom pops in the room to see her son. It might not always be the perfect shot, or composition, but I would rather a spontaneous/unplanned moment be captured no matter what the background might look like.

Groom and Groomsmen Photos

If there is enough time and all the guys are ready to go, you can do guys’ photos outside: groom with each guy, and also all the guys together.

MOST often times there isn’t enough time to do these, and we just do these after first look, or after ceremony. Typically I will do the same with the girls, and then second shooter takes the guys.

My preference is with a long lens, shooting from a distance for shallow depth of field, all men on same plane, shooting at f/2.8 or f/3.5 etc.

I will love you forever if you can get vertical & horizontal full body, and then close up/upper body horizontal. If you didn’t get these positions, let me know we’ll do them later, no sweat!

My standard on a wedding day:

  • formal group, hands clasped, smiling looking at the camera (take like 5 shots in case of closed eyes) leave enough head/side room for cropping.
  • same position, but let them go crazy and do crazy goofy stuff, or arms around eachother.
  • groom with each groomsman, vertical and/or horizontal. If you can you can also do horizontal, then do horizontal close-up. (My favorite is using 70-200mm so it’s less walking back and forth LOL) Formal smiling, then goofy/crazy LOL (often times they will just go wild)
This ^ is the shot I always do during wedding party photos. If you have time and want to be creative you can do something like this, but if not that’s all good!

The show below is a “serious GQ shot” that I RARELY do but can, if they had asked for it or if I see this to be a perfect opportunity.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about how to be a second photographer for a wedding!



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