This probably seems like an odd title for anyone who has worked with me or who I have worked for, but bear with me for a moment.
You don’t want a second photographer. Did you guess already? I’m betting you did, but let me say it anyway.
You need a second photographer.
All of my collections have a second photographer built into them. Some couples are against it because they want to save money on their photography budget and a lot of times the second photographer is the first thing they want to cross out. Hold up! Let me stop you right there before you ask your photographer to show up solo. Hear me out on the reasons why a second photographer is not an added expense, but an insurance!
My six reasons are just a small list because I cannot tell you how truly important a second photographer is to your photographer!
1. Time Turners!
Harry Potter, anyone? When you want your whole day captured, sometimes couples overlook the fact that they’re asking their lead photographer to be at two places at once. While I would be the first to grab a time turner and use it (because how awesome would that be?!) to help my couples out, we’re unfortunately not citizens in the Wizarding World so it’s not possible.
With the bride and groom getting ready, typically at separate locations, this either leads to the couple having to cross off “getting ready” photos altogether or learning that a second photographer has value. To help my couples out, I let them know that the groom and his friends usually take three minutes to get ready. Your second photographer doesn’t need to be there as long as the lead does with the bride and her ladies getting ready. This allows both bride and groom to be documented, but it also allows you to distribute your second photographer’s time more wisely.
2. Worst Case Scenarios.
Of course we want the day to go perfectly with everyone healthy, happy, and on time, but on the rare occasion something pretty catastrophic happens to your primary… you’re not left without a competent photographer. This is totally worst case scenario, and while it’s grim and a bit morbid, it’s something that needs to be considered in case your lead photographer comes down with a disabling illness, gets in a car accident, or maybe is coming from out of town and can’t get a flight back to your city.
Less morbidly, equipment failures happen. While we all take precautions to make sure that even if we’re solo this doesn’t negatively impact our documenting your day, it can happen because gear is imperfect, unfortunately. Batteries fail even after charging. A camera body dies or starts giving you error messages you’ve never seen before. It really does happen. You’ll likely never know this is going on because we have more than one body on us, more than a few batteries and more SD cards than we do coffee mugs. On that freak occasion that all our gear fails, there’s a second photographer there with additional gear to loan out or to help take over as we troubleshoot.
3. Fresh Perspective & Angles.
Your lead photographer has more to do than the second photographer, and your lead is mostly concerned with getting the important things documented, keeping you on your timeline by not running over time on photos, and managing multiple situations. Since your second photographer doesn’t have to be concerned about all those things, they have a fresher mind, more open perspective and are able to get different angles while your lead is capturing from their angle.
My second photographer’s are almost always at a different angle than I am while shooting fun bridal party shots, portraits, and the reception. They go low while I climb the nearest tree or chair, they stand to the side while I’m in front of you. This literally creates DOUBLE your portraits and fun angles than if you had just one person. Some ceremony sites have balconies or overlooks and if your ceremony is short and sweet, your second photographer can run up and capture an amazing overlook shot.
4. Crunch Time!
Sometimes timelines go awry. Okay, a lot of times timelines go awry. There’s rarely a wedding that doesn’t go over time and it can eat into the buffer time you so wisely placed in your timeline. If your lead is solo, this means they may have to make some unfortunate decisions on what to not capture. Most detail shots are done during buffer time, or if the bride and groom have scheduled in enough down time before the reception or cocktail hour as to allow their photographer time to go in and document all those amazing details you so carefully planned out for months.
If your time has been cut short, an amazing gallery of detail shots might be shortened because they’re busy documenting you, which is actually much more important.
But wait! When you have a second photographer in your collection, your lead can ask them to run over and capture those details so that you get both. Do you see how spending the little extra for a second is adding up to really get your money’s worth from your whole wedding?
5. Corralling the Crowd.
Weddings are getting larger and larger. Bridal parties can sometimes be as large as 10 on each side (I have a photographer friend who just booked a wedding with a 56 persons wedding party… I kid you not!) and when you’re trying to corral a bunch of people super excited post-ceremony it can sometimes be difficult!
Your second photographer can help round them up, or while your primary is taking the formals, your second can grab those amazing details in your reception and hit the cocktail hour. How’s that for time management?!
6. ‘Uncle Bob’
It’s a term often used in the wedding industry and it’s used to refer to any guest who attends your wedding and pulls out their camera and follows the hired photographer during the ceremony, portraits, and reception. This is a faux pas, but it’s easily handled, except in the quiet of a ceremony when the clergy says, “…you may now kiss the bride,” and they dart right in front of the paid photographer and get in the way of a very quick and very important moment.
Really, the list could go on. Usually by the second point, my couples see what an enormous value adding or keeping a second photographer is to their wedding day.
It is not a lack of confidence on your lead photographer’s part, it is a wise business decision to protect their couples’ photography investment.
There are rare cases when I don’t bring one along, such as when I capture elopements or very small and intimate ceremonies that have the bride and groom and very close family in attendance. Those ceremonies are quick, everything is simple and the timeline is almost non-existent because it’s an afternoon or evening focused solely on just celebrating together.
Unless you plan on eloping, I would protect your wedding investment by keeping your second photographer around.