Why do I need to have a second photographer for my wedding?
Why would you hire a second photographer? How do you decide? Hopefully I can help you out with that.
For starters, if you can only afford to have me, that’s fine, I’m a very high-energy person who never sits down for the entire wedding. However as I can only be in one place at a time, having two photographers will guarantee that all of the magic moments are captured. I worked regularly as a second photographer for 4 years before taking on my own weddings so I am very conscious of when having a 2nd photographer was necessary and when I was twiddling my thumbs with nothing to do.
In general when I have a second photographer it takes a lot of pressure off of me and I find that I am more creative as there is less on my plate.
So let’s run through the events of a wedding day and I will tell you the difference in coverage from having one or two photographers on your wedding.
The questions you should ask yourself are in italic. Keep score as you go along and if you end up with more than 4 that you answered yes to, you should consider choosing a package that includes a 2nd photographer.
- Guest Count: In general your guest count is a huge factor in deciding whether or not you need a 2nd photographer. The more people there are, the more interactions and moments that need to be photographed.
If you have more than 20 people at your wedding your might need a 2nd photographer.
- Getting Ready: This is a great time for me to capture the timeless feminine ritual of the bride preparing for the marriage ceremony. I will always be with the bride and bridesmaids for an hour or two to capture all that happens in that room and still have many shots that I didn’t get to.
In general that means that the groomsmen getting ready is not covered. In the groomsmen’s getting ready room I have photographed some wild pre-ceremony parties, classic jokes, touching moments when the groom received a pre-wedding present from his bride-to-be, once in a lifetime family interactions and lots of drinking! All of these moments are important to the story of your wedding day and sometimes there is not enough time for me to capture the activities in both rooms.
The counterpoint to that is that sometimes groomsmen getting ready involves about 10 minutes of throwing some pants and a shirt on, then watching TV or staring at their phones… this is not good for photography.
If the groomsmen’s room will be a party that you would love to have photos of, you need a 2nd photographer.
- First Look: Not everybody does these, but they are extremely popular right now. Having another photographer for them is always good. I generally position myself behind the bride to get the groom’s reaction when he turns around to see his bride for the first time. Therefore my photo will be of the back of the bride, and there is no photograph of the bride reacting to the groom reacting to her. The 2nd shooter is usually positioned to the side of the couple so they will get photographs of the couple’s reaction, sometimes I take this position as the sole photographer as well, but then we lose the close-up of the groom’s reaction.
If you are doing a First Look and want the reactions of the couple and a close up of the groom’s reaction, you need a 2nd photographer.
- The Ceremony: This is probably the most crucial place to have a second photographer at a wedding. It’s not that I can’t cover all the moments, I will, but they will be of the couple. I will often turn and get reactions from the attendees, but in general I am hyper-focused on not missing anything with the main players. So when Grandma starts to weep, my second photographer will usually get that. When your nephew starts picking his nose and eating it in his little tux, which is somehow incredibly cute, the second photographer will get that. When the bride’s sister cries along with the vows, I am getting the couple’s reaction to the vows, sometimes both, but not always. In general there is a lot going on during the climactic moments of the ceremony and having a second photographer here is always going to get your extra angles, views and action of the day.
For the ceremony if you have more than 20 people attending the wedding I would always recommend a 2nd photographer.
- Couple Photographs: My favorite part of my job is taking the couple away from the chaos after the ceremony to just feel the moment of being married and photograph it. It is the calm in the storm when it all hits that you have just married the love of your life and there is nothing but good loving ahead of you! In general I do these on my own, or with the videographer. The reason is that I like the moment to be intimate and since these photos are posed, there is often not an advantage to getting another angle. During this time the 2nd photographer will be capturing all of the jubilance of the cocktail party before the dinner and get lot’s of fun candids as your guests begin the party, looking their best.
Another scenario to consider is if you would like the couple shots done away from the venue or on rougher terrain, in which case I need the 2nd photographer to transform into my assistant and hold the lights and move them for me so that I can stay focused on you and not my equipment.
Lastly, this is also the time that the 2nd photographer can slip into the reception room and get photographs of the room fully prepared for the guests, and the details in the room, before the guests come in and mess it up.
If you want photographs of your cocktail reception, candids of the guests interacting, photos of the reception room and it’s details you will need a 2nd photographer. If you want to go off site and get location photographs my preference is to have the 2nd photographer there to help with equipment.
- Group/Formal Photographs: This usually takes place during the same time as the Couple Portraits. If you want lots of photos of the details and cocktail guests then add another point. During the family and bridal party portraits, my concern is with lighting and posing everyone. It is a huge help to have another person there to gather family members that have wandered off, see Aunt Betty’s stray hair across her forehead, grab the light when the wind almost knocks it down and get close up photos of interactions between people waiting for their turn. However, if you have a member of your wedding party that can handle wrangling families and friends, then that role is already filled.
Do you want a lot of photos of the reception room and it’s details? Do you not have someone that can help with getting family members together for the formal portraits? Are these group photos some of the most important photos of the day for you? If you answered yes to any of these three questions than you need a second photographer.
- Reception: When I use the word reception I mean most of what happens after the ceremony, this includes the Grand Entrance, First Dances, Toasts, Bouquet Toss, Garter Toss, etc. All of these major events I will get one angle of, but sometimes another angle is necessary to catch the moment. During the dancing part of the reception, I really enjoy creating artistic photographs where the background is streaked and the subject is flashed to stillness. They maintain the mood and fun of the party so much better than traditional flash photography does. These photos are however artistic and only about 10% of them work… but when they work they are fantastic! I will usually do them for about 1/2 an hour of reception.
If you want photographs of your guests after dinner, table shots, impromptu posed photos, you will want a second photographer.
If you want some fun reception photos as well as traditional you want a second photographer.
If you want multiple angles of the tosses, dances and other activities you will need a second photographer.
If you answered yes to any of these three questions then add a point towards hiring a second photographer.
How many points did you end up with? If you only have one or two you probably don’t need a second photographer. If you came out with 4 or more, you might need to have a second photographer at your wedding to capture all that you are dreaming of seeing afterwards. If you are somewhere in between, please don’t hesitate to call or email me and I can help you out!