Taking The Second Shot | Breaking Free

January 21, 2015



Above image taken by LuRey Photography.

You may be thinking taking the second shot|breaking free? What is this guy talking about? Often times I hear people say, “I'm in a creative rut.” We have all been there, right? It can be easy for photographers to become comfortable with their creative process. So many of us can share the same story. It's March and you are itching to start shooting. April comes and your first wedding of the year is here. You are a little nervous, but you shake off the cobwebs and produce some pretty decent results. June comes and you are on your game. You produce some of your best work of the year. September comes and you start to find yourself doing the same few poses. You are struggling to “be creative.” You feel like you are working harder and harder to get the images you want. November rolls around, and if someone so much as suggests you pick up your camera for something, you turn into a extremely scary monster of a person.

So what do I mean by taking the second shot? I am talking about pushing yourself to see beyond the first idea that comes to your head. Are you looking for ways to be creative throughout the wedding day? Have you equipped yourself with the toolset needed to react and capture the ideas you have? Have you thought about how contrasting backgrounds can be used to separate the subject from the background? Do you incorporate the use of OCF to create a different look? These are just a few things to consider. In order to grow creatively, we must make a decision that we do in fact want to grow. Whenever I arrive on a wedding day, I am constantly looking for opportunities to tell the story in the most creative way. Here are 4 things that will hopefully help you all to look for the second shot:

1. Fill Your Bag O' Tricks – Make sure you know your camera inside and out. Make sure you know your gear. Know how to use the gear you have to capture the idea you have in your head. How does it look when you use a softbox as opposed to a bare bulb flash? What lens creates the biggest bokeh? Have you ever seen an image and thought to yourself, “How did they do that?” Well, go figure it out! Never stop educating yourself.

2. Change Your Perspective/Comp – Move away from your normal comp for a few shots. Look through your work. Are you finding you have been using the right side of your frame a lot? Switch it up! Look for reflections, shadows, shoot through things, etc.

3. Practice New Ideas – You have an idea but you are scared to try it on a wedding day, right? Call a friend and practice it on them. Nail the shot or technique before you try it in a high stress situation. Every time I shoot a wedding, I go into it with 1 or 2 ideas of shots I really want to try to get. This helps me stay focused. I can overwhelm myself if I show up without a few ideas in my head. I get what I like to call creative overload where I want to shoot a million different crazy shots and Laura has to reel me in.

4. Junk Up Your Lens – Find something to shoot through. Wine glasses, prism, windows, trees, anything really. We carry a 6 inch round mirror, led branches, and a prism.

I asked a few photographers if I could use some of their images to make my point.

These first few images were taken by Two Mann Studios. I love this first image because of the comp. If this was taken dead on and center comp it would still be good but the angle with which it was taken really accentuates the look on the girls face and the overall mood.


This image was taken with the grass or weeds taking up most of the frame and they were backlight with the sun. This creates a very cool and different perspective than your usual silhouette. TMS_02

This image was taken through a window. The subject was lit with a gridded speed light. There was a reflection in the window which is why you see trees in the image.


This image was taken by Two Fifteen Photography. This is a reflection of the subjects on the ground which was then flipped upside down.

Stone Harbor Wedding

The next two images were taken by LuRey Photography. I was inside of a bush and had a flash placed behind the couple pointed at the door.


The subject was lit with a speedlight inside the building. The image was taken from outside of the building through the window.


This image was taken by Cass Imaging. Jay utilized the reflection in the mirror for this shot.


This images was taken by Jamie Ivins Photography. For this shot Jamie lit each subject with a gridded speedlight and then shot it through 2 chairs.


One of the ways I challenge the people I mentor is by doing the “5 minute drill.” I give the person 5 minutes to take 5 completely different images of the couple. They can repose the couple, but they have to leave the couple where they are. Try challenging yourself to do something like that. It really helps out a ton. It pushes you beyond your comfort zone. In closing, “The First Shot” is still fine to take. There is nothing wrong with taking it. I am simply suggesting some ways to break out of a creative rut. Looking for “The Second Shot” can be a game changer and it's always there waiting for you to find it.

What are some ways you all keep yourself out of a rut?