In my time as a wedding photographer, I have had so many brides and potential clients ask me what the benefits of second shooters are; why do I always shoot with a second? Will a photography duo really be worth it in the end? Is it actually needed or just a fad? I want to dive in to the topic, answer their questions and then allow them to choose what it best for their wedding. But what about all the brides and grooms who don’t get a chance to have that conversation with me? Well, enter my trusty blog. My hope is that anyone can find the information contained here helpful enough to set them marching forward and onward! on the right path to wedding day goals.
Quality is Key
Before digging too deep into this post, I wanted to make sure anyone who comes across this article understands what a quality second shooter is worth. I feel the need to stress that the points I’m going to make below are only valid if the second shooter your photographer hires is a genuinely skilled, driven and professional photographer (not a student photog who is learning or someone who has never shot weddings before). Many photographers perceive the role of the second shooter differently, I honestly believe that sometimes their role is just as important as the main photographer. They’re more of a team member, less of a camera holder and lens fetcher. It is important that your photographer has a working relationship with their second shooter, and that they understand their photography style. Essentially both cameras are responsible for capturing just as much of the day as each other, and it is part of your primary photographers job to make sure a clear workflow is established.
perspective is everything
In the commotion of a wedding, a second photographer can be valuable in capturing the emotions and action from a different perspective than the primary which can be a really nice addition to your images – again, if the second shooter and primary have a working relationship with one another. If the second shooter is new to the industry or new to working with your primary then the results may not be worth the additional investment. On that same note, hiring a second photographer for the purpose of getting one or two select moments can be risky as there’s no way to predict whether or not those moments will actually happen…but you will want multiple locations captured at once. Think about it: You will want getting ready images taken before the ceremony with the bridal party and the same photos with the groomsman. Or how about the shot we all know: the classic, heartfelt reaction as a bride enters the room and begins her walk down the aisle, but isn't a shot of her entering the ceremony site also iconic? You will want some pictures of cocktail hour taken while you may be in family formals.
All of these moments are worth capturing, but with things happening simultaneously, you will need two photographers so no moments are missed.
Your primary photographer should have an arsenal of trusty gear, but in the few moments it takes for them to go switch out a lens or adjust settings, a few moments will be missed. Having a second photographer there will help ensure that those missed moments are few and far between.
the candids. oh, the candids.
Ah, and of course, the candids. The primary photographer is there to get all those must-have images and yes, candids when possible, but the second photographer is there to focus on the candids. It's true that a second photographer can get some really phenominal shots (especially while the primary may be in a different location with the couple) but it’s important to understand that a photographer can only get candid photos when there’s actually something to shoot! Having a second photographer is great for larger weddings (250+ people) because quite frankly there is more to capture.
DOUBLE THE PHOTOS…except not at all.
I threw this one in here because it needs to be said: hiring a 2nd photographer will not automatically double the number of images you receive. Regardless of the number of photographers present, your photographer will cull the images; removing the ones that are repeats, unflattering, out of focus or were test shots. Although having a second photographer may increase your overall number of photos, I am here to tell you that it absolutely will not double it. The second photographer is there to compliment the primary and help out when needed; not to copy their work.
this girl is a fan
I think my position here is pretty clear, I am always, always a fan of shooting with a second. Case in point: The wedding pictured in this article has an equal number of images that my second and I shot. With consistent edits, we were able to create a seamless gallery of images for the couple with no moments missed. But when the first kiss came at the end of the ceremony, the officiant stepped in the way of one of our cameras. Luckily the other camera was in position and we still got the shot that the couple needed, but had there only been one of us there it very easily could have been missed.
When it comes to weddings that I am personally photographing, I would much rather be safe than sorry. Unfortunately, life marches on, and moments like that happen more often than you may think. However I have to admit, every rule has its exception. Courthouse weddings, intimate elopements, and small vow exchanges might feel crowded with more than one camera present. Ultimately it is up to the couple to discuss their plan and vision for the day with the photographer that they have selected and come up with a plan that will best suit their wedding.
Do you have an experience with two photographers? I'd love to hear about it! Leave a comment below or drop me a line at Gretchen@hernameisgretchen.com