The no-fluff guide to deciding: ‘should I get a second photographer at my wedding?’ Spoiler: yes.

In all seriousness, what does a second shooter do, and should you have one at your wedding? Is it necessary, is it going to be intrusive or change the dynamic of your wedding? And then there’s the extra cost – is it worth it?

Well, if you’re already budgeting a decent chunk for photography, it can be a worthwhile investment that won’t break the bank. Here’s what having a second shooter, or second photographer can do at your wedding.

Note: a second shooter is not to be confused with an ‘associate photographer‘. To understand the difference, please visit the in-depth guide linked below:

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1. Capture more moments 

Your wedding day will go by in a whirl. This is just as true for a 12-hour extravaganza as it is for short City Hall ceremonies. When I look through the images shot by my second shooter, I’m often amazed at just how many things happened at the wedding that I wasn’t even aware of. Little interactions, grandparents shedding a tear, kids hamming it up for the camera. It would be a shame to miss those never-to-be-repeated moments.

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2. Capture parts of the day that would have been missed

Having a second shooter means that more of the day’s events are actually covered. Your photographer can magically be in two places at once! One with each partner for the getting ready portion. One photographing the posed family portraits and the other shooting cocktail hour. It would be a real shame not to get any cocktail hour coverage since this is the main time to get beautiful candid portraits of your guests in great light! Also during the first look, you’ll get two angles, one for each partner!

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3. Back up

In the extremely unlikely event of your photographer getting into an accident or having some issue with their gear, their back up gear, and backups of the backups, the second photographer will save the day. I always use highly skilled second photographers that can confidently and calmly take control if the worst happens. Most of my regular shooters operate their own businesses as wedding photographers. Many have been shooting longer than me. Their work, equipment, style, and skill is comparable to mine. They are my peers, not trainees trying to break in to the business.

4. A different perspective

A secondary perspective will so beautifully complement the lead shooter’s work. Here the lead is positioned next to the groom and photographs the bride walking up the aisle, and also the groom’s face. The second photographer captured the bride’s nerves and interactions with her parents before her processional, then follows her from behind to capture the back of the dress as she walks.

showing the different perspectives of having second photographer at wedding

These two photographs were taken at the same time. It wouldn’t be possible for one photographer to capture both.

5. A happier photographer

I think I speak for most photographers when I say we like to show up to a wedding with someone that’s on our team. We feel more confident and professional knowing that someone has our back and can assist us, grab the shots we need and give us peace of mind. We strive to be cheerful, smiling and free of stress at all times during your wedding day. Our team member will help us with this goal. As artists this is very important and makes a huge difference.

6. A helper for the lead photographer

Following on from this point, a second photographer can help me in so many ways which again contributes to the feeling of wellness. There are times when I’d ask them to grab me a glass or water, hold an off-camera light or take over while I use the restroom. They might help out during the formals as they would know exactly what to look for arranging groups and setting up rows of chairs, as we’ve done it countless times before!

7. A little more investment, a lot more photos!

Ultimately you are already spending a good chunk of change on your wedding photography. It may not exactly be an ‘investment’ in the truest sense of the word, but it is a palpable thing that will continue to bring you joy for the rest of your lives. It pays dividends, as the joy increases with time. For just a comparatively small amount more, you could get almost twice the pictures from another skilled, experienced photographer.

having a second photographer lets you have more pictures

As I was 100% focused on the wedding party, I didn’t notice the drummer who’d just arrived behind me. But my second photographer did!

8. More creativity – another photographer’s own unique vision

We are creative types and love to share our unique way of picturing things. We use the camera as the tool to realize the creative vision we see in our mind’s eye. I love to encourage my second shooters to run with that. It’s much more fun this way, and so inspiring for me to see what they come up with. Also as the lead shooter, I am more concerned with nailing the must-get shots. They can be a little freer and more creative.

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Any cons to having a second photographer at your wedding?

The only downsides to having a second shooter are:

– it may be slightly disruptive or change the dynamics if the wedding is a tiny group, or if the space is super cramped.

– it can represent an extra cost, depending on whether it’s already bundled with a package or not. 

– if anyone in the wedding *really* hates being photographed it could add some stress for them.

That’s really just about all I can think of for cons, and the third one is really scraping the barrel!

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What about using a guest to get those secondary angles?

I do see some couples who have either commissioned a wedding guest to take photos – or that person takes it upon themselves without the couple’s knowledge. That is something that cannot be avoided, even if you ask people not to do it. 

The way I see it, these friendtographers may be doing you a favor, but there is no way I can get them out of my shots. They are not under my control as my contractors would be. If they decide to spring up and take photos while I’m taking mine, they’ll likely be in a lot of my shots. 

As they are not professionals, they have no idea about the delicate dance that a lead and contracted second photographer do. The dance takes years to perfect, the goal being that we cover the event flawlessly and never appear in each other’s shots. 

This friendtographer is an honored wedding guest, not a hired vendor. So, it isn’t my place to gesture at them to sit down and get out of my shot (though I often really want to!). They’re there to have a good time with you.

It’s really up to you to ask amateur photographers to leave their cameras at home. If you are concerned about getting secondary angles, never hesitate to book an official second photographer through your hired photography company.

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To conclude!

The Knot also has a great article about having a second photographer at your wedding. So, think about it and make sure you make the decision that’s right for you. When you book with me, you can always add a second shooter on as little as 2 weeks before the wedding, at the same price as you’d have paid earlier on. My pricing is all a la carte with no penalties for booking items later vs earlier on.

I hope you can see that one of the most valuable add-ons you should consider for your wedding photography is a having a second photographer. Unless your budget is super tight, you will not regret it! |Bay Area Wedding photographer – Info, pricing, about & portfolio

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A second photographer is another pair of eyes, another set of photos that can wonderfully complement the work of your primary wedding photographer. In this article I delve into the pros and cons of having a second photographer (or 'second shooter') at your wedding! Though it can represent an additional cost for you, read about why it so worth it many times above and beyond the price you pay.  #secondshooter #weddingphotography #bayareawedding #weddingplanning | Zoe Larkin Photography

Should I have a second photographer at my wedding? | Zoe Larkin Photography

just married couple recessing down the aisle with bubbles

Do I need a second photographer at my wedding?

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