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10 Reasons You Need a 2nd Photographer (But Should NOT Hire One)

Updated: Feb 16, 2022

If you've been pouring over wedding photography packages for a while now, you've probably noticed that some companies and packages include two (or three!) photographers, and some include one. One is almost always going to be cheaper, but is it worth the savings?

What does a 2nd Photographer do exactly and how can you benefit from one?

1) Two Angles During The Ceremony

Even though a solo photographer will do their best to capture both the bride coming down the aisle and the groom at the altar's reaction, this is very difficult to do effectively. These have to be done at the same time, essentially, meaning there's only time to stay in one spot, which probably won't be the perfect angle for both. Since the crowd will be standing, this makes it especially hard to get the best angle of both faces, and the photographer could be trained on the bride when the groom sheds that one single tear you've waited your whole life for. Even if you're having an intimate elopement, the same still holds true.

2) Two Angles During A First Look

Even more so than the ceremony, this is true of a First Look (if you do one). Typically the bride and groom (or dad, etc) are stood facing each other, a few feet apart, but focusing on the person watching the big reveal means that the bride's reaction may not be seen.

3) Getting Ready Photos of Both Sides

The most popular task of 2nd Photographers is "Go with the groomsmen". This means that, because the bride tends to be the biggest focus of the day, the task of getting the guys getting ready photos is passed off to the next in line. But this is a great way to increase efficiency! If the same person is covering both, they run the risk of either not having time to go to where the guys are getting ready, or missing out on those early emotional moments with the Bride Tribe.

4) Get More Photos In The Same Amount Of Time, or Get Everything You Want Covered In Fewer Hours

By being able to divide and conquer, this means more efficiency in how quickly you're able to get all the shots on your list.

Photo By One Of My Talented 2nd Photographers

5) Collaboration

Two heads are better than one! Sometimes one person has an idea for a shot that the other person would have never thought of. Having two different creatives together is a recipe for beautiful things to be created!

6) They Can Control The Chaos

While I try to be extroverted, there are definitely people who are better at calling out names and making sure that people are where we need them to be. When I hire one of those people to work with me, I let them take charge of the family groups, making sure we find Aunt Susie in the crowd and get her posed with the bride. It is so much easier for one person to gather people and checkoff the shot list while the other shoots.

7) More Lenses = Quicker Workflow

At all of my weddings I bring 2-3 cameras, and at most weddings I will wear two strapped to me at the same time. They'll each have a different lens on, but, even so, some shots may require a different one. My 2nds almost always use a duel harness strap, which means we have 4 lenses we can choose between for the shot without ever needing to reach into our bag and change out. I hate having to make people wait, or miss a shot, because I didn't have the right lens on, and the one I needed wasn't close enough to grab in a pinch. Having a 2nd means I can say, "Hey, you've got your 35mm on, 'Everyone, look at her!'", or, "Hey, can you go grab me my 24-105mm out of my bag?" without having to run to my bag and risk the very good chance that the pose will have dispersed by then.

8) A Backup Card, Or Two

Even if both your lead and your 2nd photographer are using single card slot cameras, then that means that there are two copies of your precious memories. But there's a very real chance they they both have duel card slot cameras, which means there could be 4 copies of these moments if a card (God forbid) were corrupted, lost, damaged, or stolen.

9) A Backup Photographer

If (again, God forbid), your lead photographer were to be sick and unable to attend your wedding day, you have an automatic replacement. Someone who is already holding that day for you, and willing to travel to your location. While, as lead photographers, we hope that nothing ever happens that prevents us from being there on your day, things do happen, and that would help us to all breath a little easier.

Photo By One Of My Talented 2nd Photographers

10) 2nd Does Not Always Mean 2nd Best

While, yes, many 2nds are photographers in training, others are definitely not. Most of the 2nds I hire have more experience than me and bring with them higher dollar cameras and lenses than mine. Many times I am crazy jealous over the shots my 2nds get. There are many reasons that someone may choose to be the 2nd, not the lead, and most of them have nothing to do with being inexperienced.

IMPORTANT: But now, before I get you all gung-ho to go hire yourself an additional photographer for your wedding, it is super important to note that these two people absolutely MUST be representing the same company. The lead photographer you hire chooses your 2nd for you - it is not your job to do the searching. I see so many brides "looking for a 2nd photographer for my wedding!" and this is not correct. If you choose one friend to photograph and one professional, or one that works for the venue and one that is your personal choice, or one that's a beginner and you want to help and an experienced person to help them - there are so many things that can go wrong. Almost all professionals have a clause in our contracts stating that we will be the sole photographer there. This is not because we want to hog all the fun or take all the money or not give other people a chance to do what they love. This is because everyone has their own way of doing things and we want to make sure that we give you the best shots possible. With two people who are not a team, they will end up competing. Not in an evil way, but in an accidental way. Meaning your lead photographer tries to take a family photo and half of the people are looking at them and half are looking at Aunt Susie, who you told could tag along. Or your lead photographer gets in ready to take the kiss shot during the ceremony, and all of a sudden Aunt Susie pops up in the aisle, oblivious that there is someone behind her. I hear these stories ALL of the time. My 2nds and I have a game plan for who will stand where, who will get what shots and what angles, and are always aware of where the other person is.

Even if you think they won't get in each other's way, it's just better off not to risk it and to let the professional do their job - finding the best person to help them capture all the angles of your big day!


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