Do I Need a Second Shooter for My Wedding Photography?
Some product links are affiliate links but all are where I make my gear purchases. You can also see just the product list here.
Some photographers automatically include a second shooter in their photography packages, while others almost never work with a second shooter. Personally, I find it best to treat each wedding day as completely unique and figure out whether or not a second shooter is necessary on case by case basis. Here are a few things that I consider when deciding whether or not to recommend a second photographer:
What’s important to you
Are photos of both bride and groom getting ready important? How about portraits with family and friends? Are detail shots of the dress, tux, shoes and rings crucial? How about the reception space?
As a photographer, I’ve come to understand that not everyone has the same priorities for what they want captured on their wedding day. Some couples really want photos before, during and after the ceremony. Other couples really want detailed photos of every planned element such as flowers, the venue etcetera. For some, portraits of friends and family are most important. Before anything else, I always work to understand what’s most important to you. If you're looking predominately for ceremony shots, a couple of portraits and some action shots during the reception then a second shooter is probably not necessary. If you want getting ready shots, a first look, details photos of every element, ceremony photos, family portraits and lots of action shots during the reception then I would definitely recommend a second photographer.
Logistics of the day
Will you be getting ready nearby? Or will one person be getting ready in a hotel room while the other is getting ready at home? How much time will there be for portraits between the ceremony and reception? Will everything be happening in one neighborhood or will we start in one location, go somewhere else for portrait photos and then have the reception in a completely different location?
While I can cover a lot of ground in one day, sometimes it’s just not possible for me to be where all the action is happening. If we want to do sunset portraits while all the guests are at cocktail hour, it simply won’t be possible for me to capture both. Consider the logistics of your day when deciding whether or not to ask for a 2nd photographer.
Will there be a wedding party and if so how many people will be in it? How many people will be attending the wedding? Will guests be flying into town that will be important to photograph?
Every now and again even if the logistics of the day would work smoothly with coverage from one photographer, the size of the wedding might simply warrant a second shooter. If you have over 120 attendees, it’s worth considering a second shooter simply because it will be challenging to get photos of everyone without rushing some images.
Beyond prioritizing, working through logistics and taking size into consideration, a second photographer might be a good addition because they can provide a unique skill set or perspective. Personally, I work with second shooters that are incredible photographers in their own right, not amateur photographers still honing their skill. Often, I end up recommending second shooters that specialize in film photography or are particularly good at setting up larger, posed group shots.
Whether it’s a package or an additional charge, a second shooter will always add more cost. While I generally don’t recommend making decisions based on price alone, it is an important consideration.