Alyssa, second shooter extraordinaire! If you’ve second shot for me, you know exactly what this photo is: a light test.
As I was going through the images from Jess + Michael’s wedding at the UC Berkeley Botanical Garden, I was reminded just how amazing it is to have a second shooter at a wedding. (Especially when that second shooter is Alyssa. Thank you so much for your help, you rock!)
Like a lot of wedding photographers, I started building my wedding portfolio through second shooting. Most second shooters are photographers who have their own businesses, who are either just starting out and looking to expand their portfolio and learn from another wedding photographer, or who just enjoy the greater creative freedom that comes with second shooting because you don’t have the same responsibility as the lead photographer. I absolutely love to second shoot, I think it keeps me on my creative toes, and I love getting to hang out with another photographer and see how they work. I am second shooting two weddings this weekend as a matter of fact, and can’t wait to blog about them soon. For anyone looking at getting into second shooting, there are some great tips on how to be an amazing second shooter HERE and HERE.
As I would help with keeping the family group photos going smoothly and efficiently, as I shot the reception details because the lead photographer had to be somewhere else and the timeline was too tight for them to photograph them later, as I hung out with the guys getting ready while the lead photographer was with the bridal party, or just plain carried bags, changed lenses or grabbed the photographer a glass of water, I began to understand the benefits of having a second photographer at your wedding. I know from talking to couples that it can be hard to see the need or value of having a second photographer, which is why I wanted to write a quick post about why I think it’s a brilliant idea:
1. Two Photographers, Two Places: The most basic fact is that no photographer can be in two places at once (I know, I’ve tried). And there are certain moments during a wedding when you really want to be in two places at once, usually from a practical standpoint re: the timeline. For example, if the bride and groom are in separate places while getting ready, the second photographer can hang out with the groom while the main photographer is with the bridal party.
2. Two Photographers, Two Vantage Points: Two photographers allows for different angles, different lenses, and different viewpoints of the same scene. This is one of the biggest reasons I love having a second shooter. There are so many times when I want my camera pointed in two directions during a big wedding moment! For example, I often focus on the expression on the bride’s face as she walks down the aisle and have my second shooter capture the groom’s face as he sees her for the first time. I work with fixed prime lenses because I think they produce the most beautiful images, but when something is happening quickly, like the bride putting on her dress or the first kiss, this means I have to choose for either a tighter shot or a wide shot because I can’t zoom in and out, even though I obviously want both! With a second shooter, one of us can photograph that lovely tight shot as the dress is zipped up, while the other can be positioned to capture a wide shot focusing on the bride’s, family members and bridal party’s expressions. You’ve hired your lead photographer because you trust in their artistic vision and wedding experience, but having a second photographer just brings another perspective and another creative eye to best tell the story of your wedding day.
3. Cocktail Hour, Candids and Details: The hour after the ceremony is usually the time having a second photographer is key. Some portion of this time is usually when couple portraits are done, and the lead photographer can’t be at the cocktail hour also capturing fun party candids. Your closest friends are all dressed up and celebrating your wedding, it’s definitely worth having someone there to photograph that! Besides the cocktail hour, the lead photographer has so many shots they need to get, that it can be difficult to also grab a ton of candid shots and details throughout the day, whereas the second photographer can focus on these almost exclusively. So having a second photographer is particularly important for couples who have invested a lot of time, thought and love into all the details of their wedding day and couples who appreciate a candid, documentary approach to photography.
4. A Happy, Calm, Hydrated Lead Photographer: Yup, here’s my selfish reason! Having a second shooter makes the lead photographer (me!) feel more calm throughout the day. It’s like having someone on your team, someone supporting you and helping you to do your absolute best work. I know there are some photographers out there who maybe prefer working alone, and I can definitely shoot a wedding on my own if a couple decides not to add a second photographer**, but having someone who will run to the cocktail hour to grab Aunt Edna for family photos, who will carry my bag if I need to quickly move somewhere else for a shot, who I can trust to complement my work with lots of beautiful candid and detail shots makes me happier and calmer throughout the day! And usually my second shooters remind me to drink water, which also turns out to be pretty useful.
5. Double the Photographers, Double the Coverage: You just get more photography coverage on your wedding day. Which is awesome! Period. End of story.
I hope that was helpful for anyone considering wedding packages with and without second photographers. And feel free to post any questions or thoughts about second shooters in the comment section below!
**Quick note: You will see on my wedding pricing page that only my first basic package doesn’t include a second photographer, but you can always add one to that package, choose one of the other two packages that also include more hours and albums, or custom build a unique photography package that suits your wedding day needs!