If you’re a bride searching for your photographer you will undoubtedly be getting numerous opinions over having one or two photographers, which in turn leads to many questions in your head. Is it essential to have two? Is it the best choice? Can you afford it in your budget? Do you actually want two?
The answer to most is not definitive either way as it depends on many factors from your venue to the size of your wedding to budget and short listed photographers on your list.
In an ideal world to almost (but not all) couples I do recommend to have two photographers and here is why…
- Ability to be in two places at once. Not only can bride prep be covered but so can groom. The day isn’t all about the bride and some of my favourite photos are of grooms showing their emotions. A single photographer can cover both if close by but there is potential for great shots to be missed whilst at the other. The ability to be in two places at once is also very helpful during ceremonies giving two view points.
- Removing the need of movement. A surprising number of vicars and registrars do not allow movement during the ceremony so if a photographer is working solo they have to choose to either be up front or at the back. Others do allow movement but that movement can be distracting and there is potential for missed photo opportunities whilst moving.
- Sense of calm not rushing – Trying to be in two places at once when there is only one photographer can lead to being rushed getting from bride to groom and vice versa. Even the calmest person will have a slight air of rushing, by having two photographers you avoid this.
- Ability to clarify details with registrar/vicar – When there are two photographers the second shooter who normally covers the groom prep will arrive at the ceremony venue ahead of the first shooter. This gives the second shooter chance to clarify any house rules with the registrar/vicar that can’t be clarified until the day. If only a single photographer they will have minimal time from arrival at the ceremony venue for such matters (most can be discussed ahead of the day especially with church weddings but registrars will often only be able to confirm on day) and any potential photography restrictions may not have chance to work out a work around. I hear about photographers who ignore restrictions and seek forgiveness afterwards but personally I prefer to work with the registrar/vicar on my side. Most restrictions can be overcome with silent shutters and no movement. I have received praise from several officiants that my trusty second shooter Liz has taken the time early in the day to clarify matters as it gives them peace of mind that we won’t prove a distraction and they know exactly where we will be throughout.
An extra backup – A a photographer I always carry at least two cameras on me at any time but I can only photograph with one at a time and despite all possible preparations sometimes cameras do fail, whether that is fail to take a photo full stop or jump focus or similar it could leave a photo unusable and if this happens at an important point in the wedding it’s not something that can be re-staged (without loosing the emotion!). By having two photographers you automatically have two sets of photos from the important points of the day so if there is equipment failure you are covered. Also in the event at the last minute either the primary or secondary photographer fell ill you are guaranteed at least one photographer on your day. Even in these circumstances though most will have a backup plan in place to have two photographers still that work well together.
- Group photos are quicker! A big bonus, although I always ask for a member of the bridal party (normally chief bridesmaid or best man) having an extra pair of experienced hands in the form of my second shooter Liz makes organising the group photos a much speedier process. The quicker group photos take the better, as then that is more time for you to be enjoying yourself.
- Twice the artistic vision – When creating some more creative and artistic shots it’s great to have the input of a trusted fellow professional.
- An extra pair of hands – I like to pride myself and any second shooter I work with (especially Liz) as being more than just photographers. We are an extra pair of hands, a calming voice, problem solvers and also photographers! These skills come most often to light during the bride and groom prep periods prior to the ceremony. As we are in respectively different places we can be that extra pair of hands in both locations. Whether it’s holding a speech folder, finding a room for a relative to change, lacing up a dress, or just being a general calming influence, we are there to help. The extra pair of hands is also helpful for me organising particular shots especially those that involve off camera lighting that may need adjustments.
Having covered why I recommend there being two photographers there are times when I wouldn’t. These are the points I would keep in mind when deciding.
- Budget – if you are on a budget personally I would choose one really good single photographer over two not so great photographers as a pair. Twice the volume of photos is not always a good thing. You should go for quality and experience over quantity every time. A single experienced photographer will do a great job, there is just possibility they may be limited in the shots they can get at some points in the day. They will normally ask in advance if you have a preference regarding which shots you would prefer when they are limited from being two places at once such as bride and groom prep and ceremony.
- Relationship – does the primary shooter use the same second shooter or many different? Do they work well as a pair? A good pair will work seamlessly knowing exactly what the other wants and where they are. I personally almost always work with Liz but on occasion may use a different second shooter, but if I do they will be carefully chosen to ensure not only are they a good photographer but they work well with me and clients. If a pair of photographers do not work well together they will create confusion, miss opportunities and generally not work seamlessly.
- Is the second shooter experienced? Most wedding photographers will start out second shooting before becoming primary photographers, and some primarys will also regularly do second shooter work. An un-experienced second shooter is not necessarily a deal breaker but I wouldn’t be expecting to pay a large sum (or potentially anything at all) for an inexperienced second shooter, whereas at the other end of the scale you could be expecting to pay £500 plus for the experience. (It should be noted that the second photographer fee will not only cover the amount paid to the second shooter for covering your wedding day but also to reflect the additional time spent by the primary photographer editing the images afterwards)
- How big is your wedding? If it is a small intimate wedding two photographers may genuinely not be necessary. The more guests you have the more beneficial they become.
- Your venue – If bride & groom prep and the ceremony are all in the same location it is much easier for a single photographer to cover all aspects.