Do I need a second photographer for my wedding?

Do I need a second photographer

Do I need a second photographer for my wedding?

A second photographer can make an incredible difference at a wedding, but the question remains. Do you need one?

No, not always. Think about it:

I would rather afford one photographer that moves me, than two photographers that don’t. Sometimes it is worthwhile, but choose the photographer first, and the optional items later.

There are some real advantages to having a second photographer, and two out of three of my base packages include one, but I shoot many weddings without one. In some cases, I think it is better that way.

So you have options.

Here’s how I see it from a wedding photographer’s perspective.

Making the timing work

The number one reason I hear promoting the use of a second photographer is that one photographer can’t photograph both the men and the ladies while they are getting ready.

I don’t agree. Here’s the thing: Guys don’t take long to get ready.

Add to that the reality that most of my brides like having a little spare time before the ceremony. They don’t want to be rushing out the door to the biggest moment of their lives.

When I plan my photography coverage with my couples, we look at your ceremony time and work backwards. When do we need to be there; how long does it take to travel there?

Great. As a bride, you will want to be ready an hour and a half before that time. Once you are ready, we’ll take half an hour for some portraits with you, then you’ll have an hour to relax, go over your vows, chat with family.

During that hour, I’ll take portraits of the men. When I arrive to meet them, they’re usually mostly dressed, but touching up with cuff links, ties, shoes, all great material for some getting ready shots. In that hour we have plenty of time to finish up, get 30 minutes of portraits with the guys, then head to the service.

Does that sound easy? I think so. It works on so many of my weddings that it seems to be very normal. My brides appreciate having the time to rest before the ceremony, and the guys appreciate not having to get ready any earlier in the day.

Quantity of images

When I shoot solo, I usually produce over 75 final images per hour. In a 10 hour day, that would often be 750-850 final images.

When I shoot with a second photographer, I produce over 100 images per hour. Often that means over 1,000 final images on a 10 hour day.

If you hire a second shooter, you will have more images.

Perspective of images

My images are great in quality regardless of whether I shoot them, or a second photographer works with me. What a second shooter gives me, is a new perspective.

The ceremony is the key part of the day where I can’t be in two places at once.

When a bride comes down the aisle, I’ll photograph her and her father’s perspective, then turn and capture the groom’s perspective.

With a second photographer, I can focus on the bride while they focus on the groom. One can be at the end of the aisle, and the other looking across the sanctuary towards the groom.

One can focus on a shot of your mother’s expression when I am capturing a great wide shot from the balcony, and so on.

This is where it counts to have another photographer. One can do a great job. Two can do better.

Having someone there as a backup

I started working in the wedding industry in 1992, and began photographing weddings in 2012. I have never missed a single one, nor have I ever been late to a single wedding.

Never in all the weddings that I have photographed have I had a piece of equipment fail. And if it did, I have another. I come with multiple cameras, extra lenses, several strobes, additional stands, and so on.

Yet I can’t escape the reality that having an additional photographer present, gives you more security. If anything ever should happen, they can take over.

And I make sure that the second photographers that I bring can do just that. They are professionals in their own right, each capable of photographing a wedding on their own.

How long should I have a second photographer there, and when?

I often suggest having a second photographer there for 4-5 hours, although you can add coverage if you wish.

What I find is that having two photographers there while you get ready distracts from quality moments. Less is more in this case.

Rather I suggest having them available for your formal portraits, the ceremony, your portrait session and cocktail hour, and the beginning of the reception.

Once the reception meal is served, there isn’t a need for two photographers.

Four hours is usually more than enough, and allows for quieter moments to not be overwhelmed with extra people and cameras.

A better photographer, or more photographers

Here is my big concern. With all the good reasons for having a second photographer, it shouldn’t be a reason why you choose one photographer over another.

Does that make sense?

Choose your primary photographer first. If you can afford to have them bring a second photographer, it is worth it. If not, trust them to shoot it solo.

I would rather afford one photographer that moves me, than two photographers that don’t.

So do you need a second photographer?

Need is the operative word. You don’t need another camera there. If you do want to work your schedule such that a second photographer would make life easier, then great.

Look at these two weddings. One I shot with a second photographer, one I shot solo.

Can you tell which of these two weddings had a second photographer?

Courtney and Mark | Bella and Ryan