You're getting married, the photographer is booked or maybe your researching photographers and you see the option to add a second photographer... what does that mean? More importantly, do you even need one?
First off, what is a second photographer? A second photographer (sometimes referred to as a second shooter) works alongside the main photographer taking photos of your day from different angles and viewpoints. They are not to be confused with a photographers assistant though! Although they will be on hand to help the main photographer on the day, they are mainly there to photograph. After the wedding, they hand over their memory cards to the main photographer, who will then process and edit the images in their editing style. This means you get a nice and consistent final gallery. I personally only use professional photographers with their own businesses as second photographers for my couples weddings. This means they know exactly how a wedding day works and will have experience at photographing in all sorts of different venues, lighting conditions and situations. I am part of a network of amazing wedding photographers who I use as second photographers for couples that book them. I know and trust they will do a wonderful job. They all have a similar approach to me - documentary storytelling. I too second shoot for them when I can - it's a lovely community to be a part of. So now you know what a second photographer is, but what do they actually do on the day? And do you really need one? I'll start by saying most professional 'solo' photographers will be more than capable to photograph the full wedding day by themselves. I personally have shot over 100 weddings as the solo main photographer and so I have lots of experience of photographing as much of the wedding story as possible. But there are some advantages to having a second photographer on the day and here are five reasons to consider adding one to your package.
1. More coverage of your morning prep!
Your main photographer sadly can't be in two places at once. Most of the time you and your partner will be getting ready in different locations. This means your main photographer will only be able to be with one of you in the morning. So only one of your 'getting ready stories' will be captured. A second photographer will be able to document the other part of the morning preparations! You will both get detail shots, photos of getting into your outfits and making those final finishing touches. Couples that have had a second photographer have always mentioned to me after how nice it is to what each other got up to before the ceremony. So if you both want coverage of your morning preparations, adding a second photographer is a great idea!
2. A different angle of the ceremony!
Your main photographer will likely be stood at the front during the ceremony, this is great as they get a great front view of the main action. But having a second photographer means they can stand at the back and get photos from a different angle. As you walk down the aisle they can capture reactions and things your main photographer might not have the right angle for. Plus you get to see your ceremony from the same viewpoint your guests did! Another thing to note is if you're getting ready at a different location to your ceremony, it isn't always possible for the main photographer to get a photo of the ceremony room empty and without any guests already seated. A second photographer is able to do this and will also be able to get some nice candids of guests arriving and greeting each other.
3. Extra candids of guests during your group photos!
The canapes and drinks reception is often the time you will be off with your main photographer taking the group photos and couple portraits. Guests that aren't needed for these will be chatting and mingling. Your main photographer will be focused on getting through the group photo list and so it won't be possible for them to get candids during this time. This doesn't mean to say your main photographer won't get chance to take candid photos. But by adding a second photographer, you get even more natural candid guest photos throughout the day and they can make sure no moment is missed while the group photos are being done!
4. A different angle of your wedding reception!
Similar to your ceremony, during the key moments of your wedding reception like speeches, cake cutting and the first dance, a second photographer will be able to get a different angle. During speeches, your main photographer will probably be most focused on the top table and the reactions of the couple and main VIP guests. However, a second photographer will be able to get more guest reactions and a different viewpoint of the top table.