The Best of Second Shooting

This year I had the amazing opportunity to work with Mary Dougherty of Mary Dougherty Photography. What an adventure! I'll admit that I found myself in the bathroom during more than one wedding trying to hold back the tears that always come when I feel overwhelmed, but ultimately I wouldn't trade the experience for the world. It was an honor to be able to work with Mary, learn from her years of experience, and best of all (might I say with confidence now) develop a friendship with her. 

I contacted Mary in 2011. I religiously read her blog & followed her work, and one day stumbled upon her invitation for interested second shooters and interns to contact her. I sent her an email, included a few examples of my work, and proudly shared that I had recently become the owner of a Mark II 5D. I didn't expected a response- she was (and still is, in ways) a celebrity to me. You can't really expect a response from celebrities, can you? They're too busy living their glamourous lives and exercising their amazing talent- or at least that's how I often perceive it! 

So imagine my shock when I returned from the Passion conference this past January to find an email from- guess- MARY DOUGHERTY in my inbox. Seriously, after Joey asking me to be his girlfriend, that was probably the most exciting moment of my life. I distinctly remember sitting at my computer with my mouth wide open, staring and staring and staring at the email from Mary requesting that I (Tierney Ayers) attend a wedding as a second shooter for her. 

Though I had to rearrange my life (literally), shirk multiple duties at school, and drive all the way to Pittsburg, I probably would have found a way to fly to the moon if it meant I was able to meet and work with Mary. 

That first wedding was... rough, to say the least. I had only photographed three weddings prior to that first second shooting experience with Mary, and I really didn't know what I was doing. Off camera flash was a mystery to me, as was most everything related to interacting with people and not looking awkward. (Might I add that I am very good at looking awkward- it's one of those skills that I just naturally possess.) Anyway, Mary would ask me to do something that is actually quite simple, like set up her flash stand, receiver, and flash. I would panic because that was something I'd NEVER done before (what was a receiver, anyway?) yet not ask for clarification, and just kind of figure it out (miraculously). The entire event went kind of like that- I looked awkward, kind of blindly stumbled to get something set up, didn't really talk, and in general expected that Mary would never contact me again after experiencing first-hand how much I DIDN'T know what I was doing.

For some reason she DID contact me again, and with each wedding we learned more about each other, our expectations, how to effectively communicate. I eventually learned what a receiver was, that Mary likes her Starbucks caramel macchiatos extra hot with skim milk, and that she would generally rather listen than talk when on long car rides. 

My season of second shooting has come to an end! Our last wedding together was last weekend, in Naples, Florida. It's very bittersweet- I can't wait to be working on my own as a wedding photographer next summer, but I'm going to miss the long car-ride chats Mary & I would have about babies (she's pregnant, too!), non-toxic products, and pondering what we could have been done differently at each wedding. 

Mary, thank you for this wonderful experience! Even though I almost got kidnapped from the car in Rochester, and didn't tell you not to eat the trout at that restaurant in Virginia because of mercury, and even though I stole the pillows and got the good side of the bed in Buffalo, and even though we only narrowly avoided minor car crashes a couple times, we made it (!) and I'm so, so thankful to know you as a friend now as well as a mentor, even though I'm pretty sure I'll never be able to stop viewing you as a celebrity of sorts :)

And now, a few of my favorite shots captured as a second shooter...


Sarah Boyd said...

Hi Tierney,
I'm Mary's sister, Sarah. I just have to say I loved your post about your adventures this year and to be honest I'm jealous you got to spend more time with my sister than I did! I'm so glad she had you to be by her side in all of her travels, and congratulations on your own photography career beginning! your photos above are beautiful. Congratulations on your baby coming too!! Having kids is the best most amazing experience. Maybe we'll meet eachother someday!!

Tierney Cyanne said...

Hi Sarah!

I've heard a lot about you! Apparently you have quite the wealth of baby wisdom that you can offer Mary, and I've gleaned some of that, so thanks for that :) I'm going to miss our adventures so much, the passing of time & "growing up" can be a little sad! I hope we can meet someday, too :)