So, chances are that you’ve seen this random guy around the HMP (Holly Marie Photography!) realm. You probably know he’s my high school sweetheart, and now we’re engaged. And you might know he’s my second shooter, too! But what exactly does he do around here? Because he does seem to always be around… 🙂
Let’s talk about all the roles AJ takes on. Because it’s not just a second shooter role, it’s a significant part of the wedding day, and it’s a whole lot of behind the scenes. Let’s dive in!
He’s always around to help pop that bottle of champagne!
Obviously, we can start with his duties as a second shooter! Most second shooters for wedding photographers are good friends, often spouses, but are not always a consistent team with the lead shooter.
One of the ways I think AJ and I really excel is as a team on a wedding day. We have separate duties, we always know who’s going to get what shot, and who needs to be on top of what. This makes the day run seamlessly.
Not to mention that over the past 8 years we’ve basically nailed the whole effective communication thing. So we really can rock a wedding day together!
When I asked AJ his thoughts about his role as a second shooter he said this:
“When I think about it, actual photography isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. I think that a good second shooter needs to be an organic extension of the lead photographer. But your wedding day, and our role in it, is about so much more than photography. It’s about the people that surround you. It’s about the experiences that you share.”
There are a few different parts of his second shooter duties.
First, the obvious things that come to mind when you think of a second photographer. At the start of the day, we split up so AJ is with the guys while I’m with the girls. While I’m grabbing the reception details, AJ is off capturing candids during cocktail hour. Once we get to the send off, he’s holding the flash while I follow the couple down the line!
Second, and more important in my opinion, is something he can do both during a wedding day and at an engagement session. It’s simply capturing a different perspective.
There are these quick candid moments where, for example, I’ve put my camera down to talk to the couple into their next little set. We always tell our couples not to ever look at AJ, so his photos are always 100% candid.
AJ will get that quick little glance or giggle between the two of them. It’s the way they look at each other, the way the bouquet is framed between the two of them, the way a bride wraps her hand around a grooms arm.
The second perspective that AJ captures is a quiet one. It’s fresh, its unique, and it’s one of his biggest roles as a second shooter.
Now the more secret part: AJ’s role behind the scenes:
These are the things you can’t see in a photo.
First, on a wedding day, AJ is the additional groomsman you didn’t know you needed.
I can’t tell you how many times AJ and I have reconvened after the morning apart, and he tells me the groom and groomsmen said they wish he could have been at the bachelor party.
AJ and I are best friends, our couples are always best friends with each other. So if we have me to connect with the bride, AJ connects so easily with our grooms, and we can all be best friends with each other. Thus where our “double date” energy comes from!
When I asked AJ about this aspect of his job, this is what he said:
“One of my favorite parts of the day is making sure that the groom and groomsmen are comfortable (and ready), and having the chance to crack some jokes with them. Then it’s walking him to the first look, and making sure the groom-to-be is prepared for what he’s about to experience. It’s amazing to be able to share such an incredibly intimate, usually life affirming moment, with someone we’ve known typically for less than a year. Honestly, it’s a huge responsibility, and it’s a part of our work that I revere.”
Now, back in the office, AJ has many roles that we don’t often talk about.
The most valuable (have I said that about every part of his roles now? probably..) and biggest job he has is to cull.
Culling is the act of going through our thousands of photos and getting rid of the blurry, eyes closed, repetitive photos that don’t get delivered.
He is so good at it. AJ sometimes jokes about turning it into a side gig for other photographers because culling is notoriously a tedious and difficult job. But somehow, AJ likes it??
It still doesn’t make sense to me, but I try not to question it too much because it is a godsend.
This is why throughout your reception, you might notice AJ isn’t around. A part of our workflow nowadays is AJ stepping out during open dancing or after sunset photos to start culling.
This makes our turn around time super quick! It’s how we (spoiler) blog all of our weddings the Tuesday after. And how your sneak peeks are ready the day after your wedding. AND how most weddings (another spoiler) are delivered under 4 weeks! I can’t express enough gratitude for AJ’s gift as a culling wizard. It’s nothing short but amazing.
The last of AJ’s secret, behind the scenes roles is his knack for all things business.
AJ graduated from A&M with a degree in marketing, emphasis on sales.
He is extremely charismatic, personable, and ambitious. He lights up a room, he gets to know people so easily. It’s why he excels in his day job (in tech sales!) and why I’m so grateful he helps me out in the biz aspect of HMP.
He’s technically our VP of Marketing…! If titles mean anything to you.
But what that means is he handles all of our advertising and marketing accounts. When pushy people want to have us advertise with them, and it’s not really in our cards, he is excellent at telling them no.
I’m too nice and naive and would probably be signed up for so many things right now if it weren’t for him…!
Needless to say, AJ is essential.
One last little bit from him:
“A unique strength that Holly and I have is that I was effectively taught photography to be a second. I feel so fortunate to be able to serve our couples in a way that was built to be as successful as possible on a wedding day. This enables both Holly and I to focus 100% on our couples!”
He’s not just my better half and my second shooter. He has a huge part in the HMP business. I’m so grateful to every single thing he does!
Now I want to hear from you!
I want to know which one of these roles AJ has surprised you? Or did you know each one of these things he does?
Tell me in the comments below!