During your search for a wedding photographer, you’ve probably seen that a lot of us like to work in pairs, either with a partner or a Second Shooter.
It might seem a bit strange at first but you’d be amazed at just how much a second photographer enhances your coverage, especially if you’re a fan of more natural, documentary photography.
Personally, I prefer working with a Second Shooter whenever possible because it allows for more creative freedom when working within a tight wedding day timeline. I always recommend booking a second shooter if you’re having a larger wedding (100+ guests) or a wedding with more than one location to get the most from your photography.
On a very practical level, it also means you have an immediate backup photographer in the highly unlikely event I should become ill or unable to attend your wedding at short notice. This has never happened to me in 10 years of shooting weddings, but it’s still good to know a backup’s in place if it did!
Here’s a little guide to help explain the benefits of having two photographers and why they’re worth every penny…
What is a Second Shooter?
A Second Shooter is an assistant photographer who works alongside your main photographer to help cover your wedding to its full potential. Usually they are someone your main photographer already knows and trusts, with a photography style similar to their own. I’m really lucky to have a great network of wedding photographer friends who I know will do a great job every time.
Do you need a Second Shooter?
This really depends on how much variety you want from your wedding photography. How much emphasis do you want on natural images and details? Do you want equal coverage in the morning for both of you? We can’t be in two places at once, but with a Second Shooter you’re one step closer. Weddings with lots of guests, with fewer daylight hours or unusual logistics can benefit enormously from having a Second Shooter on board.
What parts of the day will a Second Shooter cover?
A Second Shooter will generally capture all the things your main photographer won’t be able to cover on their own, giving you a more detailed level of coverage. For example they may cover the groom and groomsmen at the pub while the main photographer is still with the bride, alternate angles of your ceremony and all those natural moments which happen while we’re away taking your family photos and couple shots.
More: Morning Preps
The last few hours before getting married can make fantastic photos, there’s so much more to photograph than just ‘getting ready’ shots. It’s all about equal coverage for both of you, showing both sides of the story. It can also be handy for the Second Shooter to get a few extra group shots in the bag, freeing up more time later on.
More: Guest Arrivals
Unless you’re getting ready in the same place you’re having your ceremony, a wedding photographer usually arrives just a few minutes before the bride walks down the aisle. This means there’s rarely any time for shots of guests arriving when they’re working solo. This is where having a Second Shooter can be really handy as they can capture lots of great guest shots in a very short space of time.
More: Ceremony Shots
You might be missing out on some great images if your photographer is limited to one spot during your ceremony. Every venue has different rules, but churches can often be strict when it comes to photography. If you have two photographers one can be at the front to capture you walking down the aisle, the vows and ring exchange, and the other can be at the back getting that one off first kiss photo, and will usually be able to see guests who are doing readings better too. If the stars align, they might even be able to capture your partner’s expression as you walk in. Oh, and if your church or venue has a balcony then you can get the most amazing aisle shots from up there too.
More: Natural Images
One of the most common things I hear married couples say is that their wedding went by too quickly… well, it’s a similar story for us wedding photographers. There’s usually a golden window of time in the wedding reception where guests are at their most energetic and expressive, but usually that co-incides with the time for your family photos. It’s really handy to have a second pair of eyes looking for those nice natural shots while your main photographer is busy with group photos. If you’ve got a big wedding chances are it’s even more important to photograph as many guests as possible, which a Second Shooter will help out with.
Of course it’s the people that really make your wedding day special, but if you’ve put a lot of thought and effort into your details chances are you’ll want good photos of them. If detail is very important to you a Second Shooter will be on hand to ensure everything is ticked off the list.
Sometimes a Second Shooter will stay on for the wedding breakfast and can capture extra shots of the Speeches. It’s handy if you have a lot of guests to capture or if the room has any interesting balconies/view points to get some different angles. I usually only keep a Second Shooter for the speeches if wedding coverage is shorter than 8 hours.
Will the Second Shooter’s pictures look different?
A Second Shooter’s work should closely match the style of your main photographer, meaning your final set of photos will appear consistent and blend together seamlessly. Personally, I only work with Second Shooters I whole-heartedly trust to capture things in the same professional manner as myself and whose work I know you’ll love.
What’s the Price?
Every Photographer will have their own fees for adding a Second Shooter to their wedding photography packages. Some photographers will have a standard rate whilst others have variable rates to reflect the Second Shooter’s level of experience. For example you should expect to pay more for an experienced wedding photographer to act as a Second Shooter than a novice or beginner. Personally I prefer to book experienced Second Shooters who are also full time photographers. This ensures that you will only get the best quality pictures shot with professional equipment or equivalent. It’s important to book a Second Shooter early as they can get booked up just as quickly as wedding photographers!
I hope you enjoyed reading through this (not so little) Blog post!