This is one of the most common questions I get asked by my couples. While 75-80% choose to have me bring a second (or even third) photographer, they're not essential, and there are definitely some situations in which it's much more important than others to have multiple photographers present. So! Here we go:
When You Don't Need a Second Photographer
Second photographers aren't free, and they're not an expense that everyone needs to worry about. If all three of the following things line up with your plans, I can comfortably cover the whole thing by myself:
• Small guest list, i.e. fewer than 50-60 guests.
• Laid-back timeline with plenty of padding (so that I'm not trying to cover two very important moments that are scheduled minutes apart). This is especially true if you don't see each other before the ceremony.
• Single-location event (not switching venues between ceremony and reception). This isn't as big of a deal, but it definitely helps. Private venues (weddings at homes) help as well since the grounds tend to be much smaller than commercial properties.
Now, no matter what, I can always shoot a wedding on my own. I can cover things from my perspective, and I will still give you a beautiful, creatively told story of your wedding day. However, every couple should know what a second photographer could add to the experience.
Why You Should Consider a Second Photographer
Weddings are always at least a little crazy, and second photographers help take the crazy and make it fun-crazy since you can just enjoy the happy chaos of getting married (rather than worrying about timeline and whether or not an important moment is being missed). Why second photographers are awesome:
• Second photographers provide an additional storyline of the big day. Just as the laws of physics dictate that you will only experience your wedding day from one point of view, I can only cover the day from my point of view. One of the biggest things I hear from couples when they see their finished images is, "There are so many moments in here I never even knew happened!" Just the richness of story added by a second photographer is worth it, as far as I'm concerned.
• Second photographers provide variety of perspective and artistic vision. When my second photographer and I are shooting in separate locations, the point is, naturally, to tell two different stories. But when we're shooting in the same place, the point is to tell the same story in two different ways. My second photographers keep an eye on what lens I'm shooting with and know to use one that's either much wider or much closer than what I'm currently using. They will also never be "shooting over my shoulder" as this just doubles up on an image I'm already capturing. They'll be shooting at least 90 degrees off of what I am to make sure we're covering things fully and from unique perspectives.
The following is a typical example of a wedding day "micro-story." Since Caroline and her father are very close, I stayed back with them to catch the sweet moment before he walked her down the aisle. This allowed me to capture Josh's expression with Caroline and Dad in the foreground (my favorite angle), and it also allowed me to get a shot of the back of her dress as she walked down the aisle. BUT, my amazing second photographer Angie (hey Ang!) caught the indispensable final shot in this four-image story that is just packed with emotion: Dad's nerves and tenderness (notice his hand brushing his daughters?) and Caroline's excitement and joy.
• Second photographers make a tightly scheduled day more laid-back. They relieve a lot of the pressure on me to be running between important events during a finely choreographed schedule. (The less running I do, the more shooting I can do.) Especially if you're not seeing each other before the ceremony, we have a lot to accomplish in that time between the ceremony and the reception. A second photographer allows me to relax and focus on giving you a big, beautiful portrait to hang over your fireplace while they take individual shots of the wedding party.
• Second photographers are the next best thing to me being able to clone myself. There are times of the day where important things happen in completely different places. Unlike your ceremony where everyone's in the same place at the same time, couples usually spend the first 2-3 hours of the shooting day nowhere near each other. Additionally, once the ceremony is over, the wedding party and family hang out with me and take pictures while your guests part ways with us and head for cocktail hour. This is a perfect time for the second photographer to capture them catching up with each other and grabbing the first drink of the night.
• Second photographers are insurance for those all-important (but often very quick) moments: the groom's face the second after he sees his bride, dad giving away his daughter, grandmother blessing the rings, the first kiss, the first dance, mom tearing up during her toast. While I take every precaution to make sure those shots are captured (and I'll have my eye on that guest that's most likely to hop into the aisle in front of me to get an iPhone snap of your first kiss), a second photographer is another layer of security to make sure we'll have beautiful images of those moments to include in your album.
• Second photographers allow me to be more creative. Best to use an example: because I know that we'll have the shot straight down the aisle of your first kiss, I can take a chance and run around behind you two and catch the shot with all of your guests in the background. Boom. Can't beat it.
I don't ever want a couple to feel as though they're being pressured into a choice. Wedding planning, even with everything that goes along with it, should be fun and as stress free as possible, so I'll reiterate: you don't need a second photographer. No one needs one. If the cost of hiring a second photographer is a significant portion of your entire wedding budget, then you might want to save the money for something else. But if it's in your budget to do so, they can be a huge asset and provide a beautiful, valuable addition to your wedding day story.
FAQs About Second Photographers
Do you know who my second photographer will be?
Not right when you book. While I mark your wedding day off my calendar 12, 18, 24 months before the big day, I won't ask for a firm commitment from them until probably 2-3 months before the wedding.
Do I have to decide if I want a second photographer when I sign the contract?
Nope! About 75% of my couples will choose whether or not they want one in the initial package, but it's definitely not necessary. If you've sat down for a consultation with me, you'll know that the only decision you have to make to sign the contract is whether or not you want me to be your wedding photographer. Everything else can be decided on later.
How much experience do your second photographers have?
Lots. For the most part, my second shooters have their own businesses and book their own weddings. They know what's up. Whether or not they book their own weddings, though, I get a good feel for their style and experience long before they shoot a wedding with me, and by the time your wedding rolls around, they'll know exactly what I need from them day-of. A good second shooter can be a life (and sanity) saver, and I've been lucky to always be able to find and work with great ones so far.