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Do I need a second photographer?

One question that I receive all the time is “do I need a second photographer for my wedding day?’ In some cases it’s a very easy answer, and in others it’s more nuanced. Below are some of the key considerations that I factor into any recommendation for including a second photographer as part of your wedding day coverage.

Advantages of a 2nd photographer

When considering if you should have a second photographer at your wedding, it’s worthwhile to step back for a second and highlight some of the advantages and disadvantages of including a second photographer. There was a point in time when almost all of the weddings that I photographed had a second shooter, however, post-COVID I am seeing that trend shift the other direction. Now, a much smaller percentage of couples are requesting a second photographer as part of their coverage. Regardless of your final decision, know that I have photographed hundreds of weddings both with and without a second photographer.

Chief among the advantages of having a 2nd shooter on hand is that I cannot be in two places at once. If you and your partner are getting ready in distinctly different location (i.e. you’re at your parent’s house and they’re at a hotel 30 minutes away, for example), with a second photographer we will split up and start with each of you where you are. It’s often a logistical challenge to cover both of you by myself when there is a significant distance between your getting ready locations.

The second biggest consideration is whether you are having a first look or not. When you do not plan a first look, your cocktail hour will be devoted to your family, wedding party and couple’s pictures. This usually leaves very little time, if any, to photograph your guests at cocktail hour and the details of your reception space. I will do my best to photograph as much of the details prior to the ceremony if it is setup and I can do so, but in some cases it just does not happen. If you get married at a church and plan to stop at a park for portraits, I am it is likely that I will not get to photograph these details. With a second photographer on hand, they will return to your venue with your guests, photograph the details, and join your guests for candids and grip-and-grins portraits while we are off doing portraits. If you plan a first look this becomes less important because I will be back with you and your guests at the cocktail hour.

Finally, if you are having a large guests list, and candid moments being very important to you — and they are to many of my clients — having a second photographer will with this. Simply put, having another set of eyes present will help ensure that more moments are documented. I will use reception speeches as an example. I typically work through a hierarchy of VIPs during speeches… the speakers, the couple, their parents, siblings, etc. If the speech is long enough, I will get to additional guest reactions. With a second photographer, they can float around the room looking for grandma, the table with your college friends cat calling you, the flower girl poking out from under a table cloth, etc. With two of us, we are able to see more.

Disadvantages of a 2nd photographer

This will be a short sections… In actuality, there are not many disadvantages of a second photographer, but there are a couple. In a nutshell, I have never had a client regret including a second shooter, but my clients who have not included one have been very happy too! The biggest disadvantage is cost. For the cost of including a second photographer you could easily add additional time that may accommodate a potential coverage gap. Also, when you have a 2-person photo team and 2- or 3-person video team, the whole “unobtrusive” thing largely goes out the window. It’s also almost possible to keep someone from one of these teams out of your photos. We try hard to coordinate our movements, etc., but it happens and sometimes cannot be avoided. I try to carry the smallest footprint possible to that what is remembered is the images that I cake, not the visual impact we had on your day.

In conclusion…

Whether to include a second photographer as part of your wedding photography coverage is entirely your own decision. There is no right or wrong, and it is completely situational. In my opinion, it really comes down to how you choose to structure your day, the locations where events will be taking place, what is most important to you to get out of your coverage, and your budget and how you wish to spend it. You probably will never regret having a second photographer along for your day, but there is a decent chance that you don’t need it and could allocate that portion of your budget to something else. Regardless of which side of the fence you are leaning towards, I am here to help my clients and prospective clients figure out what coverage works best for their day.

To find out more about Wedding Photography and having Eric McCallister Photography document your next major life event, contact me.