Do you work alone or with another photographer?
I Europe 2nd shooter is not a standard, and in 14 years of doing wedding photography, I have covered all my client’s wedding alone. So when I came in the USA I was quite surprised to discover this wedding industry particularity!
A Second Shooter Is Not Always Required
You don’t always need one. For wedding with fewer than 200/300 people, I am used working alone. From the preparation of the bride to the festive part, I used to cover everything (see my complete wedding report example to be sure of that). Everything is a question of organization.
That said, with more than 200/300 people a second photographer might be needed if you want to be sure to have all those little moments, and all the people in pictures.
Why I am skeptical about the 2nd shooter offer
Standing and marketing thing
I see a lot of photography studios offering 2 photographers services. Most of the time, the second photographer is a newbie in formation, or the wife/husband of the photographer. (My spouse is a scientist and definitely not a photographer.) Indeed, hiring a beginner is cheap. Sometime the second shooter is even not paid, because he is in the formation!
For small weddings, I think it is more a standing question than a real advantage, given that the lead photographer can shoot everything by himself.
So why so many companies offer a 2nd shooter? Because it’s marketing. It makes you believe that you will have twice more pictures, twice more “stollen moments,” twice more memory for your wedding albums. But it is not really true. If the 2nd shooter is not talended, only very few pictures will be kept at the end. And you will probably have a lot similar pictures.
Having a bad 2nd shooter could even be considered as taking a risk
Try to imagine it’s your wedding day. During the reception you want some pictures with your friends/grandparents/guests. You ask the 2nd shooter to do that while the lead photographer is taking other portraits. But the 2nd shooter is not talented (given it’s the spouse of the photographer that usually does the retouch). The pictures are not beautiful… Worst they could be out of focus , or blurry due to bad settings (aperture, speed, iso)!
What about the images quality?
Photography equipment doesn’t do the job, but it helps. Take the same picture with a professional camera (sensor)+ great lens, or a bad one (cheap sensor)+cheap lens… Do you think a beginner can afford to have a very expensive equipment.
Do you know the 2nd shooter? Have you met your 2nd shooter during the engagement session. Do you feel at ease with the 2nd shooter?
An Assistant for the Primary Wedding Photographer
A wedding day is much more than only the ceremony and reception. It’s love to capture into shots all day long, from the getting ready, to the dance. It’s the family bonds to capture in a great photograph, and it’s guest photos to take.
A second shooter will assist the lead one to capture all those things, working hard too to help the main photographer to capture memorable photographs. In consequence lead photographer job is made easier, it’s more convenient shooting the same thing with 2 shooters than only one!
What’s more, running a successful photography business is (very) exhausting. So if clients are ready to pay more so you can find someone who helps the lead photographer in his business, he would be crazy no refuse great help. For this reason, second shooters are often presented as a need, while in most cases it’s a convenient disposition.
When to Consider Hiring a Second Photographer
Let’s be clear, it think a second shooter could be a very good thing. Well, as you can read I think a 2nd bad shooter could be a disaster! But, on the other hand, I think if the 2nd photographer is as good as the lead photographer, then it’s very good. But it will probably have a cost. So the real question is: do you really need a two photogs for your wedding?
Specific situation is needed
There are some specific moments, 1 vendor can’t be in more than one place at the same time, and then you need 2 photographers.
The typical example is at the beginning of the ceremony. If you want some portrait of you walking down the aisle, and images of your back from different points of Vue, then you need 2 vendors.
By definition, a good photographer is expensive, and that’s precisely what should be your 2nd shooter.
Hiring a confirmed second photographer is expensive. Indeed, try to consider yourself like a experienced photographer, and ask yourself those questions: would you will to cover a wedding for “peanuts” (when you can cover “your own” wedding for yourself). What’s more you will not have all the fun during the couple session (you are not the lead one)? So if a photography studio wants a second photographer, it will cost you more. Otherwise it means its work is probably poor quality. And given that I want to offer my client only great quality service to the best price, I only offer the second photographer as an additional option.
We want quality for our clients, we offer only good photographers services.
You have a big wedding and you want a picture of everyone.
I think for weddings with more than 300 guests it’s become difficult for one photographer to take a photo of everyone. Starting from 400 guests, it’s not possible.
So if you plan to have a big wedding with more than 300 guests, and you want a shot of each guest, then you should consider hiring a second photographer.
You have a special scheduled wedding
Most of the time, one photographer can cover all the wedding day by himself. He can take the bride getting ready, and the groom getting ready. You just have to schedule smartly the day.
But, in some special weddings, with some special traditions, bride and groom preparation could be a very important moment, with a lot of people. And it could that last very long, or being at the same time.
So basically, for this kind of circumstances, a second shooter could be needed.
A second photographer is an option that should be considered only on big weddings (more than 200 guests) and particular situations.