I’m so excited about today’s post because it’s been in the works for quite a long time now! Last year I brought on a new assistant to my team, the incredible Madison Short, and her crafty + creative personality has been such an incredible gift! She’s the extra set of hands I’ve always needed on a wedding day, from corralling family members for portraits to handling parking in the inner city to uploading memory cards throughout the reception so that I could cull on the way home.
One of the biggest way’s that Maddie has helped me is by carrying her own Wedding Day Emergency Kit that has come in handy so many times. From helping bridesmaids with painful heels to removing lint from a groom’s suit jacket to keeping our camera gear dry on Rainy Wedding Days – Maddie averts every crisis and is always ahead of the curve!
Today she’s guest blogging about how to be an extraordinary assistant!
Maddie’s Three Top Tips for Assistants:
1. Be ready and alert at all times. There are so many times where I’ll hear a bridesmaid whisper about a mini emergency, and I try to handle it before the bride (or even Natalie!) finds out! I just don’t want anyone to get nervous throughout the day, so if I’m alert and listening at all times I can usually prevent things that could potentially go wrong! I also always have Natalie in my sight, because if she signals for me to run and get her a different flash or something I want to be there for her ASAP!
2. Always think ahead. Whatever moment of the day we’re at, I’m always thinking about the two after and getting ready for them. Towards the end of the getting ready portion of the day, I’ll start packing up Natalie’s gear bag and loading the car so all she has to do is run outside and hop in so we can head to the next location! Or during the ceremony I’ll get out my questionnaire and see what he have/have not shot yet and get ready for family formals! It’s much easier to be ready for what’s next, because on wedding days thing usually don’t go as planned, so if you have the next thing in mind it’s easier to make changes and adjust if need-be!
3. Have fun and make friends! Even though you’re technically working, assisting is so much easier when you’re having fun! There are some really tiring parts of the day, but there are a few things you can do to make the day easier! I always try to make friends with the bridesmaids, groomsmen, and family members. That way they already like me and trust me, so during bridal party and family formal pictures they listen to me more! It’s also a good idea to make friends with the other vendors, so that everyone is on the page and we all work together as a team! Plus, dinner that night is a lot more fun when everyone knows each other!
Maddie’s Wedding Emergency Kit
When I first started assisting for Natalie, I had no idea what to expect or what to bring with me! I knew I wanted to be “that assistant” who literally had everything for every situation. There were so many articles online about how the be a good second shooter, but none about being a good assistant. So I loaded my little bag up with some small essentials I thought I would need, and from there I have added and refined my little wedding day emergency kit!
This kit is not just for photographers, but anyone involved with a wedding! This is perfect for planners, videographers, hair & makeup artists, DJ’s, and even bridesmaids! Although I do not use all of these things at every wedding, when I do need them they save the day!
Blister blockers: Okay, these are BY FAR the thing in my bag I use the most. After trying a handful of different kinds from different stores, I finally found some I love! These are super sticky, so they stay in place and don’t move around, and they’re really comfy! I have these in every pair of shoes I wear to weddings, and I never get blisters! I usually carry 2-3 extra sets in my bag just incase anyone in the bridal party needs them! Maddie’s Pick >>
*Sidenote: As photographers, we go to great distances to get beautiful images. From being in rain all day, to walking on a sandy beach, we don’t really “play it safe” for where we walk. That being said, these will not stick as long in your wedding day shoes as they will in normal everyday shoes, so buy a few pairs of them!
Lighter: I carry a lighter because there’s usually candles on the tables at the reception and we prefer to shoot the tablescapes with lit candles whenever possible. This way I don’t have to bother the venue staff for a lighter and they can keep setting up while we shoot! Blogs and magazines also like to see lit candles for publication, so carrying a lighter makes it easier for submitting! Maddie’s Pick >>
Tape: Tape comes in handy when styling invitation suites and you want to keep the flap of the envelope from popping up. It also can help with other little bits of the day, like getting little bits of lint off of suit jackets! Maddie’s Pick >>
Scissors: I use my scissors pretty often on wedding days. There’s usually strings or straps that need to be cut off of bridesmaids dresses, along with other random little things that need to be snipped throughout the day! I like having the kids safety scissors because they’re small and can fit into my emergency pouch. Maddie’s Pick >>
Sewing kit: This is something I always knew I needed, but never had. Then at a wedding one of the bridesmaids whole zipper broke…. Thankfully they were professional bridesmaids and had a mini sewing kit on hand, and I quickly sewed her zipper up! She was literally sewn into the dress, but the crisis was averted and the wedding day went on as scheduled! Maddie’s Pick >>
Screwdriver Set: At this point you probably think I’m way too over-prepared, but I promise these things come in handy! I use my screwdrivers all the time to tighten up loose light-stand screws. We also had a groom borrow them at a wedding to fix a fan at an outdoor wedding. (See photo above! Hah!) Maddie’s Pick >>
Bug spray: We shoot a lot of outdoor weddings, and it’s hard to focus on shooting when those bugs are eating you up! The bridesmaids will also thank you during those bridal party portraits in the field or on the beach when its mosquito, tick, and fly season! Maddie’s Pick >>
Bandaids: Sometimes little cuts happen, and it’s good to keep bandaids handy! Girls trip in their heels, flower girls get skinned knees, and it’s always best to have these in the field! Maddie’s Pick >>
Phone Cords & Portable Battery Pack: I usually carry 2 phone chords, one for me and one for Natalie, just incase we need to charge our phones (we like to take A LOT of behind the scenes pictures throughout the day and are constantly texting to check in about the schedule, using our phones for GPS, and so on!) I also have a little portable charger, just incase there are no plugs around so our phones are always charged! Maddie’s Battery Pack >>
Advil: Sometimes on long weddings days (when we can’t get to the nearest Diet Coke!) we need Advil for headaches and back aches (thank you 70-200mm). I keep mine in a little film canister so I don’t have to carry a big bottle of it! Maddie’s Pick >>
*Nat’s Note: It never hurts to have a miniature first aid kit with you when working a wedding! Most venues will have one on site, although it never hurts to have medication for migraines or aches + pains for yourself and the wedding party.
Zipper pouch: I carry all these essentials in a little pouch to keep them all together, since I usually have pens, highlighters, and the wedding questionnaire also in my bag that day. I have this really cute Blue Q one (with cameras on it!) and it fits perfectly in my bag! Maddie’s Pick >> (And it’s seriously the cutest!)
Thank you, Maddie for guest-blogging today! This girl could write the textbook on how to be an extraordinary assistant and I’m so grateful to have her as a part of my team! She is not only a talented photographer, but a trusted colleague and friend! And just a reminder that as a participant in the Amazon Associates Program all purchases made from the links in this post help to fund the Free Educational Content that I share on Tech-Talk Tuesdays!
Download my Wedding Photography Questionnaire — Fill out the form above and get it delivered straight to your inbox! All of the questions I ask my couples to help them prepare for the big day and ensure that I can provide them with an extraordinary experience.