2nd Photographer, Do I Need One?

Are you on the fence about having a 2nd photographer? Are you not sure if you actually need one? The reasons for this can be purely for coverage reasons or to have photographs from multiple angles or because of other timeline challenges. Read on and figure out what is right for your wedding coverage.

What Are 2nd Photographers?

2nd photographers are someone who your primary photographer will hire to help assist in taking pictures of your wedding. Your photographer will have a relationship with other photographers in the area or someone on staff to help in this case. This 2nd photographer will be vetted and have a similar style as you main photographer. They will also be responsible for editing their images to ensure continuity.

5 Reasons You’ll Want a 2nd Photographer

1. Guest Count

It is really important to have the right amount of photographers on hand to ensure coverage of details, guests, the VIPs and, of course, the important moments. I always recommend having more than one photographer if the guest count will be more than 150. I know there are other photographers who recommend over 100. If you are in between those numbers, there many be other reasons to consider adding one aside from guest count (such as a large wedding party, see below). However, if your wedding is under 100 people, you may be fine with one photographer if you are willing to accept possible limitations. Speak with your photographer about your plans and coverage goals.

2. Getting Ready

In most cases, it is impossible for one photographer to capture both getting-ready times. Often, they are in different locations and at the same time. Occasionally, I can do a bit of both, but this will require proper planning. I’ve had it work well. However, other times someone was running behind, and it became challenging. To ensure the full and best coverage of this part of the wedding, hire two photographers.

3. No First Look

If you aren’t planing to do a first look, you will be doing all of your formal photos during cocktail hour. If you have a medium to large formals list, it can take the full standard 1-hour cocktail portion. In this case, I recommend either extending your cocktail hour by a half-hour. As a result, your photographer can capture some of that and also get the details in your reception room.

Ideally, you will also want to have a 2nd photographer who can capture cocktail hour and the reception room. Additionally, as explained in #4, the 2nd photographer can help with pre-ceremony portraits, saving precious cocktail-hour time later. (Example: Bride with immediate family, her mother, etc.) If you can’t extend your cocktail hour, this can be a huge help.

4. Your Shot List Is Long

The more complex your formal and informal portrait shot list is, the more likely you will need a 2nd photographer. This comes in handy, especially if you aren’t having a first look. It is really a must if you require any table shots. These photos typically have a short window when everyone is seated. It can be time-consuming for a photographer to wait for the guests to return. Having a 2nd photographer (or 3rd for 250+ wedding guests) will make it go faster and keep one photographer focused on the moments.

Another reason would be a large wedding party. Having two photographers can speed up the process of photographing large groups even if doing a first look. (Not to mention the getting-ready time!)

An additional reason would be a family member who “needs” their own photographer. When you start planning your shot list, ask immediate family members their posed photo requests. You may find a mother or mother-in-law will have many more requests than one can photographer handle. The obvious answer to this is having a 2nd photographer for at least half of the day.

5. Broader Coverage and Angles

When working alone, I make every effort to cover the wedding from as many angles as possible, but I am still only one person! In some cases a remote camera can be used for a key shot that would otherwise be impossible (a wide shot of the ceremony from a building, etc.) However, having another photographer who can work independently during a ceremony is great to have.

It can be less distracting since the photographers won’t have to move as much and can photograph the vows from both sides. And while my anticipation of the best angles is good, every now and then someone or something may get in my way unexpectedly and block a shot. (For example, during the first dance when that dip happens at a less-that-wonderful angle to me. Or an excited wedding guest steps into the main aisle or thrusts a phone into it.) Having a 2nd photographer ensures key moments are well documented.

In Conclusion

Hopefully this list helps you in making a decision about having a 2nd photographer. The only downside will be the additional cost. If you’re on the fence, I recommend erring on the side of caution and having a 2nd for at least half the day. Please contact me, and I’d be happy to make a suggestion based on your wedding plans.