Do I need a Second Photographer? |Wedding Planning Tips

Colorado mountain lodge wedding

Wedding planning can be stressful. That’s why its so helpful to ask your fellow wedding vendors that you’ve hired to ask for important advice on any questions you may have. A question I get asked a lot is; “Do I need a second photographer for my wedding?”

Most couples have never planned a wedding before, yet coordinators, photographers, caterers, and DJs have helped plan hundreds. They know what works and what doesn’t. (And have you checked out my list of Top Colorado Wedding Vendors yet!?)

In this post, I’d love to help you out to determine whether you need to add a second photographer on to your wedding photography package or not.

Do I need a second photographer for my wedding?

Every photographer and every photography package is different. Some photographers will require to shoot with second photographers on hand, while others may prefer to shoot alone. Personally, I provide an “a la carte” photography service, meaning you can pick and choose what you want with your wedding package, including the decision of hiring a second photographer or not.

So the answer isn’t black and white. There may be reasons where a couple would “need” a second photographer, which I will outline below. Some people have said they regret not hiring a second shooter, but (and I’m biased here), if you have a great photographer, you wouldn’t regret getting one or not. But generally, those factors might depend on the event, and your photographer.

do i need a second photographer?

Factors that determine why you might need a second shooter

Guest Count

The first factor would be the size of your event. Obviously, the more people, the harder it is for one photographer to really capture everyone in attendance. Example; during the reception, when toasts are happening, the main focus will be on the wedding couple and the speech giver. The photographer can still bounce around to the back of the room to photograph guests reactions, but they will really want to stay closer to the couple as possible to capture the laughs and tears.

If a second photographer was present, they could be getting the back half of the reception room while the main photographer is photographing up front. Personally, I say that 150 is the tipping point for a guest count that I start to recommend adding on a second shooter to your photography package. I tell every client that while I am 100% capable of shooting a wedding by myself (and I’ve photographed weddings with a 400 person guest count solo!), the larger the wedding, the more difficult it is to capture all of your guests by myself, especially when the majority of my attention is focused on the bride and groom

Getting Ready Photos

The second factor is how important getting ready shots are on your priority list. Some clients do not care for them, while others want the whole shebang!  If the wedding couple is getting ready in separate rooms (or different venues!), I send my second photographer to capture the other person.

Now, this shouldn’t be a high priority on the list of determining whether to add a second photographer on or not. I have photographed MANY weddings where I mainly photograph the bride, and then right before the first look or the ceremony, I’ll do “mock” getting ready photos with the groom. By this I mean, we will photograph him tying his shoes, putting on cuff links, having his best man help him put his jacket on, adjusting his tie, and some solo portraits. We can get this done in about 15 mins! So as long as you save time for that, we can usually pull it off with just myself present.

First Look Timeline

Another factor would be how your wedding day timeline is set up. This is particularly important if you will be doing a First Look or not. If you decide to NOT do a First Look, then that means that the majority of “photo time” will be the hour or so between ceremony and reception. And if you’re looking for more advice on a Wedding Day Photography Timeline, check out this blog post I wrote on the topic! Basically, during cocktail hour, we have to fit in the family formals, bridal party photos, as well as photo of the wedding couple. This will eat up that entire hour! So while the main photographer is busy doing that, who will be photographing the cocktail hour candids, and the reception tables set up?

That is when a second photographer is the most needed, I believe. Since the main photographer will be busy, it is nice to hand off the other duties to the second shooter at this time. They will immediately enter the cocktail hour space, photograph details, as well as guests mingling and playing lawn games. Then they will head into the reception room once it is finished being decorated, and photograph those details.

If you DO decide to do a First Look, then this can be done by just one photographer more easily. The majority of photos will be done before the ceremony happens (such as bridal party photos, as well as the wedding couple photos), so that all that’s left after the ceremony is family formals. Family formals might take about 15-20mins, and then the wedding couple is free to enjoy cocktail hour with their guests! When I’m shooting solo, I usually follow them into the cocktail hour space, photograph some candids of everyone mingling, and then slip into the reception room before guests enter. That way I can photograph the reception space before anyone sits down.

Budget

Probably the most important factor to determining if you should add on second photographer to your package, is if you have the budget for it! I created an “a la carte” menu for wedding packages specifically so that couples could create a custom package that fits their budget. A second photographer is a great addition that you won’t be unhappy about, BUT, if you are already over your allocated budget for photography, then sparing a second photographer is an option.

Like I mentioned before, I tell all my couples that I am 100% capable of shooting weddings solo. Probably more than half of the weddings I photograph, I do solo. Even with the above mentioned reasons why you might want to add one to your package, I’ve still photographed weddings under those conditions.

So, if you have the extra money to spend, I’d say, go for it! But if you are looking for areas to save on your wedding day, then it’s an option for you to opt out.

Do I need a second photographer for my wedding

Benefits of adding on a second photographer

I love having second photographers because I have them capture different angles and different focal lengths that I am doing. This brings a whole other dimension to your wedding photos. I use a lot of my second photographer’s images in my blog to show a juxtaposition between this opposing angles (especially in first look images where I might capture the groom’s reaction, while my second is focusing on the bride!). They often catch things that I might miss, and vice versa!

When deciding whether to add a second photographer to your package, think about your day as a whole. What is important to you? Do you want that extra dimension? Does your ceremony or reception venue have a balcony or viewing deck? Is there a spot you want a different angle from? Are there many locations you will be at on your wedding day? And you know your guests the best! Will some be on the dance floor, and some at the bar?

Who do you use as your Second Photographer?

I’d like to make a point that I only hire second photographers that I know and trust. I thoroughly look through each second photographer’s portfolio and have a sit down meeting before hiring them. I have a good list a people I love working with that I will rotate depending on schedules and location. My photographers also have professional camera gear equal to my own. Sometimes I find photographers that have similar shooting styles to mine, and sometimes I like to use someone who shoots a bit differently than me, to give your gallery that extra something.

In the end, I take the files that my second photographer took at your wedding, and I edit them in my own style. They work in seamlessly together, and you wont even know who shot what!

Most importantly, I hire photographers that I can trust. Trust with you, trust with your photographs, trust with your guests, trust with your vendors, and trust with me.

adding a second photographer to your wedding

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607.382.8351
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based in Denver, Colorado. 
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607.382.8351
shellbell.anderson@gmail.com
@shellbellanderson
based in Denver, Colorado. 
available for travel worldwide
The Knot

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Yelp
Wandering Weddings
+ INSPIRE ME
+ REVIEW ME
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