One of the most common questions I get asked is if having a second photographer (second shooter) is worth the investment. Many couples are wondering what types of additional shots will be captured and what additional benefits are they getting.
As many couples are starting to resume wedding planning for the 2021 and 2022 seasons – let’s dive in!
Let’s start with the most obvious: Having two people with the intention and expertise to capture moments is always going to yield additional images for your overall wedding portfolio. A second shooter not only is an extra set of hands and eyes, but spreads out during those moments where one shooter can’t possibly be in two places to capture multiple angles is a distinct advantage. Some of these moments are first looks with parents and the couple; walking down the aisle; ring exchanges; first kisses; grand entrances; and first dances.
Additionally, the most important people in your life are watching these events unfold. Many of my favorite images are of your guests sharing in the moments with you. Joyful moments of your friends and family could be missed with one camera focused on the wedding couple at all times. One of my favorite moments of the entire wedding day is the last seconds of the bride and her family member before walking down the aisle. This split second instant is typically raw and emotional. With a single photographer positioned at the front of the venue capturing the wedding party processional, these intimate moments are impossible to get, and usually end up being some of the most special.
If you are planning your wedding without a bride and groom first look, a second photographer will greatly speed up the post-ceremony photography. When the couple elects to not see each other before the ceremony, the bulk of the group wedding portraits must take place post-ceremony. Depending on the size of your wedding party and family, along with logistics of your venue – this process can take hours. A second shooter will help the main photographer divide-and-conquer this process so the entire wedding party can get to the celebration.
Second shooters routinely assist in bustling dresses (this happens at almost every wedding), help repair wedding bouquets, and other last-minute details on the fly. One of the most often overlooked tasks is pinning all the groomsmen boutonnieres security and at the same height and angle. The second photographer is at the back end of the aisle ensuring the dress, veil, and flowers are perfect. They are capturing those grand scale images of the ceremony, while your main photographer is up front and personal getting the smiles and tears.
The second shooter is also another set of eyes and hands. My second shooter is keenly aware of small details that can make-or-break an epic photo, staging large groups of people so they are on-deck for the next portrait session, and assisting with stylizing those groups to maximize time. On a smaller scale, the second shooter can help arrange wedding detail shots, capture wedding guests while they arrive, and help photograph important social-hour and reception shots when people, vendors, and light are all changing and moving at record pace.
A detail you might not know in the early planning stages, is that most churches restrict the movement of your photographer and require them to choose a spot for the duration of the ceremony and stay put. This is an important question to ask when securing your church.
If you are getting married at a social venue instead, placement of chairs, guest quantity, decor, and sound equipment can restrict photographer movement. With a one-photographer plan, I’m forced to ask what’s more important: The bride’s beautiful face and dress while walking down the aisle, or the reaction of your groom as he sees the bride. This angle is often captured from the back. Both are equally important, but the exact moment can not be captured from both angles.
Lastly, during the ceremony, excessive movement by your photographer can sometimes be distracting from the guest’s perspective. I consider myself to be super-stealthy and quiet, but this can be extra important when a photographer and a videographer are working simultaneously.
What does all this mean? It means wedding day photography is captured from multiple angles and adding a second photographer can help ease the process at every turn. If a second shooter isn’t in your budget, I assure you a single-photographer can get the job done. The biggest thing to consider is communication and planning, along with a little compromise. It’s my job to mange expectations so there are no last-minute surprises.
Planning and budgeting for a wedding can be stressful and expensive. I understand this, but I whole-heartedly believe that beyond your memories and the marriage itself, your photos are the only tangible item you have from the day. Pictures document every element, detail, and emotion for you to pass on to generations.
Finally, I can’t wrap up this post without an extra shout-out to my amazing second shooters! Both Rachal (more recently) and Hannah have really honed in their skills and are not only amazing assistants, but an added element of fun for the day too! I know all of my past wedding couples would agree!
Look on for some of my favorite two-shooter moments from some past weddings. I debated to organize these by type (first looks, aisle walks, first kisses, first dances, etc.) but ultimately elected to keep them together by couple. I hope this helps in your planning your wedding day celebration and budget! I’ve linked the full blog posts from many of these amazing couples along with their beautiful venues. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have extra questions on this topic!
Caitlin + Tony || Backyard Wedding || Hale Lake, Grand Rapids, Minnesota
Keegan + Hannah || St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church || Superior, Wisconsin
Nick + Jamie || Holy Family Catholic Church / Park Point Dinner and Party || Duluth, Minnesota
Connor + Kalynn || Backyard Wedding and Reception || Forest Lake, Minnesota
Josh + Amanda || Backyard Barn Wedding || Saginaw, Minnesota
Andrew + Ashley || Church of the Holy Family || Eveleth, Minnesota
Zach + Ashlee || Clyde Iron Works || Duluth, Minnesota