"No Uncle Bob, you can't tag along with our photographer that we paid good money for."

It's easy as a professional photographer to think that everyone knows the proper "etiquette" when hiring a professional photographer, but honestly, a lot of people don't realize or even think about some of this stuff. So I thought I'd tackle a subject that a lot of couples who

are planning, and a lot of photographers who haven't been in this situation before, don't typically know how to handle. So, buckle up, because today is all about the uncle bobs and the cousins who are starting their photography businesses.

First things first, we all start somewhere. We were all new once and trying to learn and grow so in no way am I against new photographers or second shooters because I STILL second shoot. I'm still learning. In fact, I don't think any photographer will ever be done learning. But here are a few reasons why couples should not let that cousin bring their camera.

 Relationship: Photographers spend time vetting and building a relationship with their second shooters. Shooting a wedding alongside another photographer is kind of a dance. You have to learn how to ebb and flow with each other during the ceremony. One is probably getting tight shots while the other is getting wider shots. One is getting one partner's face while the other photographer focuses on the other partner. So when you have a brand new photographer who you haven't even met until the wedding day (or didn't even know would be there because yes this unfortunately happens) then you don't get a chance to interact with them and build that relationship and see if you mesh well. Not only that, but that new photographer probably doesn't know what to expect, where to stand etc etc and may get in the way of the professional you hired.

Gear: Usually second shooters will use one of the main photographer's cards if they have dual card slots so that the main photographer can take that card home and edit those photos to be consistent with their style. Because you typcially hire your photographer for either their pricing (and we will talk about why this should be your second reason for choosing someone and not the first on another day) or their style. So you want that style throughout your full gallery. It's also important to know what kind of gear the second is using because if they're on a tighter crop, the main photographer may want a wider lens to give variety. We at least want some type of idea on what body and lens the second is using so we can choose our gear accordingly.

All Content and No Learning: I get it. They need content. You can't really get opportunities if you don't have a portfolio and you can't really build a portfolio without shooting weddings right? But if you show up as a guest, and bring your camera to get photos of your own, yes you may get content but you aren't LEARNING. You aren't able to learn why and how that main photographer is choosing to shoot how they are. You really aren't benefiting at all by having someone set up a shot and shooting over their shoulder. The best thing for a new photographer to do is reach out to photographers directly for second shooting opportunities, internships/mentorships, STYLED SHOOTS, model calls and investing in education. All of this will teach the new photographer how to set up shots themselves and all of the variables (such as location, background, etc) to consider when doing so.

Distractions: Couples, this is going to distract you. I promise you it will. I've seen it time and time again. As uncle Bob is shooting over my shoulder, he will either as you to look at him or you'll think, "Oh well he's family so let's give him some shots as well." and this makes it take twice as long to get all of the shots we need. You're going to be tired and hungry. I want to get you beautiful images and send you into the reception to relax and I can't do that to the best of my abilities if there's someone distracting both you and I.

I know you want to help your family member build their portfolio, and professional photographers love to help beginners learn in the right way. But I think it's important to remember that allowing them to bring their camera to your wedding day without talking with the professional that you hired is not the right way. It will hinder the professional from doing their job to the best of their abilities AND it will hinder your friend or family member from learning the actual process as well. What you CAN do if approached by a family or friend, is offer to let them do a couples' session with you on a different day. You can also always ask your hired photographer if they would be okay with a shadow but it's NEVER a good idea to give the okay for a guest to show up and take photos at your wedding day.