When Do You Need a Second Photographer at Your Wedding?
There are definitely times having a second photographer at your wedding will give you better wedding photographs. However, in the wrong circumstances, having a second photographer can actually have the opposite effect and take away from your coverage. As I explain below, there is no one solution and it is almost always down to talking to your chosen photographer so as to decide which would be best, to have a second photographer there on your day or not.
The Number of Guests
In my opinion the one definite time to have a second photographer is when you have more than 250 guests at your wedding. Even the best photographer will struggle to give the true story of your day, on their own, with that many guests. There will be so many different things going on throughout the day in different parts of the wedding, that to catch a feel of all of them would be impossible.
However two photographers at weddings of less than 200 guests become a bit of a feature. The fact that two photographers are walking round taking photos becomes a bit of a production and guests can become much more aware and self conscious as a result. This changes the coverage of the day substantially away from being natural, particularly if some of the photos have the other photographer in the background!
It’s tempting to think that more photos are better from your wedding, However, much like food, it’s better to have a smaller set of wonderful photos that really tell the story of your day beautifully, than many more photos that dilute the story and devalue the whole set. Having a second photographer will always dilute a photographer’s work, as there is no way a second photographer will shoot in the same style as the main photographer. Also, unless you hire a full time wedding photographer as a second, they will always be a trainee or assistant. Personally, if I need a second photographer, I always organise a full time photographer three months before the wedding, whose work I love, who isn’t shooting a wedding of their own on your wedding day.
Bride and Groom Coverage Getting Ready
Sometimes the bride and groom are getting ready miles apart. In this situation a second photographer could cover the groom while I cover the bride. However, in reality, photographing the guys getting ready isn’t particularly exciting. Men generally get dressed in silence and very quickly…however, I find the best time to photograph the groom and groomsmen before the ceremony is when they are at a pub or another location (I once photographed them doing a few holes of golf before the ceremony :-)), or at the church or venue for the ceremony. This is when there will be the most emotion and activity amongst the men. Here’s a Sussex wedding, that is fairly typical, where I photographed the bride getting ready, then went to the groom, a few miles away at a pub. Walked with him and his ushers to the church and then went back to the bride in time for her to finish getting ready and walk to the church. Ultimately it is all in the planning.
Capturing the Bride and Groom’s Reactions During the Processional
This can be a lovely moment, photographing the bride and groom’s reactions to seeing each other. It is just the sort of moment I love and is why I shoot weddings the way I do. Again, having a second photographer at the start of the aisle and me at the front means we would capture both the bride and the groom’s reactions. However, again, in reality we would each have the other in the photograph, taking away the natural feel of the moment. The alternative is for me to be half way down the aisle, so I can catch the bride coming in and walking down the aisle and then when she has passed me, I can turn and capture the groom’s face across the bride’s shoulder for added effect. I’ve done this many times and it looks beautiful as well as natural.
Shooting With a Second Photographer
Whilst it’s most important to consider what the bride and groom want, it is also important to think about how it works for the main photographer shooting with a second and how that can affect the photographs. For some it is good to have the support and to know areas are covered while they shoot something else. However there can be downsides. Having to coordinate with a second photographer will always take something away from the main photographer. Making sure they aren’t in the back of photos, that you aren’t both shooting the same things, these all take from the concentration you need to tap in to the story of the day. On my own I listen and feel the way the day is progressing. I become totally immersed in what’s happening…this doesn’t happen with two photographers as they are in their own bubble shooting in from the outside.
Ultimately the choice will be up to you, but the most important thing to do is to talk to your photographer about this. Whether that photographer is me or someone else, we will be able to advise you on the best course. Ultimately we will want you to have the best coverage of the day, while not sacrificing the style you want by choosing us in the first place.
Personally I feel there are more situations where it is better not to have a second photographer, than to have one, after all, there is a reason most photographers work alone! However, there are some situations where having a second would definitely make the photographs from your day better.