The benefits of a second photographer – Assistant photographers and second shooters (or even more!)… what are the benefits?
I am often asked if I think a couple should have a second shooter – meaning another photographer attends your wedding with me and assists me doing your photography – as per usual it doesn’t come with an automatically simple answer. Some weddings are borderline, others would clearly benefit and believe it or not certain weddings would be better without an additional photographer.
There are some simple basic rules if good photography is a priority for you. Here is a brief breakdown on guest numbers and how this impacts the benefits of a second photographer.
- Under 40 Guests – Unless there is a particular reason, you are better off with just one photographer. Having too many cameras pointing at such a small event can mean that the photography can feel more intrusive than it should be. The images could also potentially be quite repetitive, as we vyed over capturing the best images!
- 40-75 Guests – Usually unnecessary, one photographer is usually adequate to capture all of the key moments and remain unobtrusive. If you have something of particular importance that you want captured, it can be of benefit to have an additional shooter or if you would like both of you getting ready in the morning. You can explore the option of having a second photographer for just 2-4 hours, which can be perfect but is not always available at peak times.
- 75-100 Guests – A second shooter is recommended. Keeping up with your days plan, get group shots done and still be in the right place to capture natural images can be very tricky indeed. Whilst I can assure you I will always do my best, I would recommend an additional photographer to cover your event fully.
- 100+ Guests – A second shooter is strongly recommended and advised. The additional guests mean that capturing the entire story with just one photographer is very tricky indeed. Why risk it? Far better to get a second shooter to take some of the pressure off and enable us to provide even more great images!
- Even more photographers? – Yes, it can be useful at certain weddings to have even more. Some of the 500+ guest weddings that we have done have certainly benefited from having multiple photographers assisting.
As most weddings sit with guest lists somewhere between 75 and 120, you may still need a bit of help figuring out if a second shooter is right for your wedding, hopefully the remainder can help with that.
Our Second Shooters
We do not keep ‘assistant shooters’ on staff. Instead, we use a collaborative community of full time professional shooters to source our second photographers and this works so well. The community is tight-knit and I have worked with the vast majority as well as shooting with them myself when required, I know their work, their professionalism, their work ethic and quite frankly their hunger to catch the best images.
There are two or three that I work with extremely regularly and I am delighted that this community offers alternatives would my regulars be already booked.
This is just the perfect system and guarantees consistent, reliable, high quality second shooters for my couples. I only work with other friendly professionals who I think you would actually want to have at your wedding and who can deliver the goods! If you want a second shooter, let me know as soon as possible, so the best available second shooter can be sourced for you.
What are the benefits ?
The full story
Some weddings are planned, so that the couple get ready at the same venue, the guests arrive for welcome drinks and the ceremony is also in situ. This is a great set-up and if you have a smaller wedding, this kind of planning can negate the need for a second shooter. Instead, I can work out the timings and dash between the rooms and the areas to try and capture as much of the story as time allows.
More often than not, however, you are getting ready at separate addresses and a second photographer can really take the pressure off as they head to spend time with one half of the couple (usually the groom). This allows us to co-ordinate to capture the whole story for one another to enjoy afterwards, a definite benefit!
This can also be useful if later in the day events are split for any reason. One photographer can ensure they stay close to the couple, whilst my second can capture the guests and what they are getting up to.
It might sound a little obvious, so I will keep it brief. If there is more than one photographer present, we will both see each scene a little differently and capture it how we see it best. We will, of course not be together at all times, covering individual events and moments respectively. For you, this means additional images, it doesn’t necessarily mean double the images, as repeats are inevitable and you will shown the best of these images.
More natural shots
This is a similar point to the above, but it is more specifically relevant for natural shots. Natural images are very important to me, I do not think that you can accurately tell a wedding story without them, but sometimes, larger, key events are happening. When I am working on my own, I am mostly calculating in my head how things are running and what the best place is for me to be at any given time to do my job to the best of my ability. Sometimes this means making tough choices – as try as I might – being in one place at once is still the best I can muster (although a lot of our reviews do actually claim differently!). A second shooter removes a lot of this pressure, for example I can prioritise the group shots whilst being confident that they are dashing about capturing all of the natural moments as they happen.
Faster Group Shots and couple shots
Having a second shooter during a key event such as the group photograph session can be very handy indeed. I will have, as always been through the exact shots list and timeline with the couple, so that I can be as efficient as possible with these important images. The running of the day is always typed and shared with my second shooter, it allows them to be in the right place at the right time and also to be able to assist in organising the group shots. My second shooter can collect wayward guests, begin to get the next shot ready or ensure that natural moments are being captured whilst we are busy with formals.
I do find that when it comes to the couple shots, they can be invaluable for speeding the session up and getting you back to your friends and family. I am doing the majority of the direction, whilst they zip about with different angles and takes on the scene, it usually means we can produce more images for you in about half the time.
More Angles and Braver Angles
We’ve touched on the additional angles a second shooter can find, but it is a key benefit of having one. I always think this advantage gives the final set of images a more comprehensive and cinematic feel. In particular this works so well for moments like the ceremony, confetti and couple shots, those additional angles just bringing in an extra element of storytelling.
A second shooter can also give me the opportunity to choose braver angles over ‘safe shots’. A safe shot is what most photographers call the ‘expected’ images of key moments, and therefore, shots we can not always take risks with. By having the additional camera support there, I can instead ask them to cover the safe shot whilst I can go off in search of an exciting new angle to capture it in a different way!
Wow shots and actual assisting
Some of the ‘wow’ shots that I love to create involve fairly elaborate set ups. Sometimes they involve moving furniture, liaising with staff to use certain spaces, having lights turned off etc. Sometimes I need reflectors or lighting held and having a second shooter to assist in these scenarios is invaluable. I almost always need some assistance with these (for practical reasons, as unfortunately I have not grown any additional limbs as yet) and I am not above utilising an enthusiastic guest, but of course my own assistant is even easier to work with. They speed me up and light the couple and the scene with a greater accuracy than I could alone, it really makes a difference! A few more to view in our directed gallery.
Because they are brilliant too
As I have said, our full second shooters are already full-time professionals, they are already impressive photographers and I would be wasteful not to tap into those available resources. Myself and my second will find moments throughout the day to explore other parts of the venue and come up with entirely new concepts together! Far from any concerns of either of us being distracted by the other, instead we bounce off each other to create natural moments, to find new shots and spot special patches of light, I love my seconds!
A Safety Net
Actually, I would rather not write this one in, but, it is an inevitable truth. I am permanently mindful of the importance of the data (pictures!) on each one of our memory cards. We have an awful lot of processes in place to prevent unexpected issues and protect all of those important memories! Saying all of that, of course, it does stand to reason that if there are two of us shooting and we have collectively more cards and more images across more cameras… the risks of losing any data are lowered even more – *dashes off to touch some wood.