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Should you book a second photographer for your wedding?

The benefits of a having a second photographer

Having recently looked for our own wedding photographer (which let me tell you is a blog all on it's own) we attempted to stay pretty open minded about whether it should be one or two photographers. We didn't want to cloud our judgement based on how we shoot weddings ourselves, but inevitably circled back and decided that having two photographers was the best choice for us. Here's some reasons why its a smart investment and what you should consider in planning your own day;

Before we get into it, we should note that just because it was the best choice for us and something we heavily promote, doesn't mean it is the right choice for everyone. Micro weddings with less than 30 people at a very intimate venue might not call for two photographers. We have had this before and not only was there not the space to maneuver but it was just overkill. That said however a photographer can work far more efficiently with an assistant (or voice activated light stand as we like to call them).

Getting ready at separate locations

The most obvious benefit to having two photographers for your wedding is when you and your partner are getting ready at separate locations, it goes without saying that one photographer can only be in one location at once. Depending on how far apart you are and how long you have your photographer for, it may be a choice of one or the other.

Without meaning to stereotype, just in my experience, the grooms are less fussed for prep photos than the bride, usually because they assume it will feel intrusive and awkward and they just want to relax before the day's events. But a good photographer isn't just good at taking photos, they are a ninja at blending in, so much so you will barely notice that they are a photographer and feel more like a wedding PA! We've done everything from button holes to helping putting in contacts, but you wouldn't know it from the photos, you'll just remember how much easier it made your day and the benefits of a up close and personal retelling of your day from both places for you to enjoy for years to come.

Different angles

Think of it like a movie, if The Avengers was all shot on one camera from one angle it would feel fairly one dimensional. Having multiple angles enhances your viewing to make it a far more immersive experience.

When you get your album back you should be able to look through your photos and relive your day again as if you were there. Whilst this of course can still be achieved with one photographer, and that one photographer can shoot from different angles, there are many moments that you only get seconds to capture and having 2 photographers ensures you will get quick but special moments from multiple angles.

More coverage

Often if weather permits and how well organised the formal group shots are, I can leave Simon to capture the planned for shots and get more group shots as a side line while these are being done. Its a nice added extra to be able to look through your album and find group shots of friends or families that you hadn't necessarily planned for and a nice takeaway for your guests.

But during the formal shots isn't the only time that this can be a benefit, there are many times that there are things going on where moments that can be captured in two places at once, and you get to look back on more moments of your day that you otherwise didn't know was happening.

Large venues or guest lists

Anything over 100 guests, especially at a large venue where people can spread out, or you have a lot of activities, it's going to be very difficult for one photographer to get photos of everyone. And even if they can get photos of everyone, there will be a lot less of them, and it may feel more like they made it into your album, rather than documenting the day as it unfolds.

Keeping you on time

Even the best planned weddings can fall behind on their timeline for one reason or another. Having a second photographer will help ensure that the photo sessions run on time as well as providing you with an extra layer of communication between wedding parties during prep.

Security and backup

Whilst it sounds like something that is highly unlikely and something you shouldn't need to worry about, camera equipment fails. It happens. You will often find that even single wedding photographers will have backup equipment, whether that be cameras, lenses or memory cards. Having a second photographer with their own equipment that they can share with the lead photographer is an added level of security. And that's just equipment.

Here's a true story;

Lead photographers camera is placed on table.

Unseen children playing under the table; yank the table cloth off the table and the camera goes flying... luckily the only damage (by some miracle) was to the flash.

But it did mean that as we approached the first dance our lead photographer was without light... not ideal.

Second photographer, left their flash with lead just in case and went to get a replacement in time for the first dance.

Nothing was missed and you still got two photographers worth of shots on the first dance... phew.

Better portraits

Whilst many photographers will work differently, some second photographers may stay with the guests while the lead photographer goes with the couple to get the couples portraits (which is a bonus in itself).

However how we work is I stay with Simon and the couple while this happens as an assistant, whether that's holding a light or helping with setting the scene, either way it makes for even better portraits.

Whats the difference between a lead photographer and a 2nd shooter?

Just because someone is a second photographer, doesn't necessarily mean, not as good as the lead. Although you will find in most circumstances the cost of the second photographer is much lower than the cost of your lead, in those sort of circumstances someone has to take the 'in charge' position, they will do the meetings, they'll direct the 2nd, they'll do the editing after the wedding and front the cost of any print under their brand. So naturally the lead has much more to do, the cost of the second doesn't devalue their abilities by any means.

Often if the 2nd is not someone that the lead shoots with as standard anyway, they will generally choose someone they have worked with before and/or matches their style and abilities.

The second shooter will have set responsibilities for the day as will the lead, depending on the individuals and their preferences those responsibilities can vary. So other than your main photographer being in charge and bearing the majority of the responsibility, there's often not a lot between them in terms of skill. Which means that you are getting two, very capable and skilled photographers for less than you would pay if you booked them both independently, which also makes it great value for money.

Should I book a second photographer?

If any of the above reasons grabbed you, then absolutely. As I said before it's incredible value for money and whilst you can spend all the money in the world on flowers, food and favours. When all the food has been eaten and the drink drunk ... the photos live on forever.


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