If you’re looking to book a wedding photographer, one of the questions you may be considering is whether or not you should look for a company who offer a second photographer. Most professional wedding photographers will offer the option of a ‘second shooter’, but is it worth booking one?
Traditionally, wedding photographers worked alone. Back in the days when film cameras were the only cameras (and you could leave your door unlocked at night, because there wasn’t anything worth stealing), it wasn’t practical to spend all day photographing a wedding. Typically, a photographer would turn up, take some very staged photos outside of the church or venue (where there was enough light and they could exercise some control over proceedings) and then take some portraits of the couple. This careful approach was necessary because every single click of the shutter cost the photographer money – each exposure had to be processed and the film had to be purchased in the first place.
Fast forward to today, and digital photography has completely revolutionised what is possible when it comes to wedding photography. Now, we can take more risks with our images. We receive instant feedback on whether exposure settings are correct, and we can easily take 2000 shots over the course of a wedding day – something that would have been impossible in the 90s and even early noughties.
This has enabled wedding photography to evolve. Today, I tell the story of a wedding, from morning through to the late evening. I capture spontaneous moments: fleeting looks and falling tears, uncontrollable laughter and unspoken joy. When the two of you sit down together to look through the photos, whether for the very first time or on your Ruby wedding anniversary, you will each be reminded of memories you thought you had forgotten, or discover moments that you didn’t even know had occurred.
Can I do this as a single photographer? Yes. However, there are some distinct benefits of having a second photographer that you may want to consider.
There are some distinct advantages to having two photographers at your wedding – but it may not be necessary for every couple.
Most couples don’t actually see each other on the day of their wedding until they are about to get married. It’s a special moment, as your eyes meet down the aisle – more on that in point two. In the UK, the most common time of day for a wedding ceremony is between 12pm and 2pm. Usually, therefore, the morning is spent apart from each other, perhaps with bridesmaids or groomsmen, and parents. A lot can happen during this time, but your partner may never see it.
Having two photographers means that we can capture a flavour of both your mornings and fill in those gaps for each other – these images often provide some funny stories to tell each other as you look through them together.
Without a second photographer, particularly if you are getting ready in separate locations, it is usually only possible to tell one side of the story.
Remember in the previous point when I said we’d come back to seeing each other at the end of the aisle? Well, here’s where the second benefit of an extra photographer comes in. Typically, when working with a second shooter, I will position myself at the front of the ceremony, over to one side and out of the way, but with a view back down the aisle. My second photographer will put themselves at the other end of the aisle, with their lens trained on the person nervously waiting at the end of it.
This is just one of the scenarios throughout the day when having an extra camera in a different location can help us to more fully tell the story of your wedding. During your drinks reception, one of us will be capturing candid shots of your guests arriving and enjoying themselves, while the other is photographing the details on your tables in the other room. When we’re photographing the two of you as a couple, one of us will be shooting wider shots, and the other closer images — making the portrait session quicker. Whilst the speeches are being delivered, I usually assign the second photographer to only look for reactions on the faces of your guests, while I focus on the speaker and the top table.
Again, some of this can be covered by one photographer, particularly at a smaller wedding. But for more complete coverage, two heads – and two angles – are better than one!
One of the questions that will have crossed the minds of most couples who are about to book a wedding photographer is, what will happen if they can’t get to the wedding? I’ll go into more detail on my contingency systems in another article but having a second photographer is certainly one way to gain a little more peace of mind, for both the couple and the lead photographer. When I’m preparing for a wedding, I always make sure that I build in a little extra travelling time in case of emergencies. However, should my car decide to blow up or someone crashes into me, I usually know that I have another experienced photographer travelling separately to the wedding who can fill in for me until I get there. This has never actually happened in all my years of shooting weddings, but it’s a weight off my mind when I have a second photographer at a wedding.
Of course, there are some downsides to have two photographers at your wedding – and it’s not just that they will eat twice as much at your sweetie cart!
There is, of course, an additional cost to having a second photographer at your wedding. Unfortunately, these photographers insist on being paid, and that cost is usually passed on to the couple. There is also the added administrative burden of finding and organising another photographer and the editing time associated with an extra set of photographs. Typically, photographers charge somewhere between £250 – £400 for a second, experienced photographer.
At Jon Cripwell Photography, I try to mitigate these elements as much as possible. Working with another member of the team, Chris, when he doesn’t have his own weddings to shoot helps to offset some of the potential issues. Plus, we obviously work very well together since Chris was trained by me.
If you are planning on having a small, intimate wedding, then the thought of having another person there to factor into your plans may not appeal. This is why I don’t recommend necessarily having a second photographer for the whole day if you are having a wedding with fewer than 50 guests. You may, however, still want to have a second photographer just for the morning, to capture both of your preparations.
Generally, I feel that the benefits of having an extra photographer at your wedding outweigh the potential disadvantages, but ultimately it’s your decision. With that in mind, if you would like to discuss whether a second photographer is the right decision for you, feel free to get in touch and I’ll happily discuss your particular wedding in a bit more detail.