Do you need two photographers at a wedding?

wedding photographer

Trying to decide whether to have two wedding photographers or one, can be tough – For some weddings having a second photographer can make a lot of sense and it can certainly ensure you get the very best coverage of your special day. My second photographer is my partner Heather, who is also a professional photographer. We’ve been shooting weddings together for about six years, and our styles compliment each other perfectly to provide you with seamless dual wedding coverage. So why should you have a second photographer? What are the benefits of having two wedding photographers?

This is a question we’re asked by most of our couples, and it’s excellent to ask when you’re looking for ‘the one’ (aka the photographer who has the style you love and that you trust enough not to give an inspiration sheet to ; )

With weddings, sometimes you must have two photographers, and sometimes it’s more of an aesthetic choice. There are a few questions to ask yourself when choosing one or two photographers on your wedding day and we have gone through them for you below. 

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The Full Team Gives You Multiple Angles On Important Moments

Could you imagine your favourite movie with one single camera angle? The need for multiple angles applies to weddings as well. There are multiple important angles to capture, and a cohesive team will allow every important moment, every important expression, to be captured.

Weddings move quickly, as do sunsets. Whenever there is a moment, having multiple photographers working together to capture images with different styles of lighting, different crops, or different angles can double or even triple the number of great images you receive from those fleeting moments.

A bride walking down the aisle as her groom anticipates her arrival is one of many emotional moments to occur during a wedding. However, capturing the groom’s emotion, bride’s emotion, family’s emotion, and that beautiful train of her dress isn’t easy with just one photographer.

wedding photographer

The 3 Photographers Take on Specific, Specialized Roles

There are a lot of special moments happening at once. Wedding preparation takes place simultaneously and in different locations. With three photographers, each of those special moments will be captured. During wedding preparation, we think it’s best for the lead photographer to stay with the bride and for the second shooter to focus on the groom. We love documenting the couple and their closest friends and family during this intimate moment. At most weddings, there isn’t time for one photographer to cover both.

Does your groom like to sleep?

It’s no fun having to rush the groom’s side in the morning, which can be the case with one photographer and a big family.

With one photographer, your groom needs to get ready much earlier in order for us to have time to head over to the bride’s side. We had an enquiry recently where our bride’s groom would have needed to start getting suited up at 8 am with one photographer whereas he could delay that till 11 am with two. Not great if the main man likes the snooze button…

It’s also not just about the groom, and it can be a little too much to have his side of the family ready early in the morning for family photos. You can run into trouble when your groom’s mother doesn’t want to be ready at 8.30 am, and maybe his grandparents aren’t there for photos that early. No one wants to miss out on photos with their grandson/nephew/brother, and we have found people get upset when we have to leave because they don’t understand why we have to go so early.

With two photographers, the groom gets a sleep-in, doesn’t need to get ready so early, and there’s no need to rush the family—dream, dream, dream.

Do you have more than 100 guests?

Whenever we hear our couples say “I have more than 100 guests” we will strongly recommend a team of two. Any wedding with over 80 guests can certainly benefit from a second shooter, but when you’re over 100, it’s necessary.

A wedding with that many guests is big and beautiful, and you need two sets of hands to manage the crowd. In addition to this, it’s unlikely that you and your fiance will be able to spend time with / speak to all your guests on the day, so it’s nice to have an extra set of eyes (and cameras) to capture more reactions of your loved ones.

Do you have a tight schedule?

If you have an early ceremony (or ceremonies), we recommend two photographers, that way we can split and capture both the brides and grooms preparation. This also helps after the wedding as a team of two can split to tackle separate jobs simultaneously.

E.g., One photographer can capture the reception room styling, and the other does the family photos after the ceremony.

Do you want lots of candid photographs of your family?

By having two photographers, one can focus on capturing the important (or money) shots, and the other can watch everything else. Like your grandparents during your ring exchange and the flower girl asleep at the back of the church.

Pre-wedding preparations

The pre-wedding preparations are usually a really special part of the day, full of lovely moments between family and friends. All our couples who have had both myself and Heather photograph their wedding have said how much they’ve loved being able to sit together after the wedding and look back on each other’s side of the wedding prep and sharing a few tears and a good giggle!

Unless you’re both getting ready in the same venue (hotel etc.), it’s not always possible for your photographer to get coverage of both you and your partner pre-ceremony, both because of time and logistics. Having two photographers means one of us can stay with one side of the wedding party (e.g. the groom) and get all the reactions and pre-wedding excitement (& nerves!) from the boys, any final touches to wedding decorations, opening their gift from the bride and arriving at the wedding venue and greeting guests – parts of the day the bride would never usually get to see!

The other photographer stays with the other side of the wedding party (e.g. bride) to cover the girl’s side of the prep, hair and makeup, opening a card/gift from the groom, giggles with family and friends, the bride putting on her wedding dress, father of the brides first look at his daughter in her wedding dress (always a tear-jerker!) and the last-minute nerves and excitement as the wedding party leaves for the ceremony. Depending on the location of the wedding your photographer may need to leave before the bride putting on her wedding dress to enable them to get to the ceremony venue before her to photograph her arrival. Having two photographers means one will usually be able to stay with the bridal party until they leave for the ceremony, to photograph putting on the dress and any special portraits you may want during this special time.

Special moments

Two photographers mean you’ll get two different angles from your ceremony coverage (one of us will be photographing from the back of the church and the other will be right up front near you – if we’re allowed!). At Anuar & Julia’s wedding (below!), Heather was able to go upstairs & shoot from a balcony, as well as from the back of the room, while I could stay near the front, capturing all those beautiful, emotional moments!

Couple shots

In some circumstances, your main photographer can take you away for a short period to do some couple shots of you both while the second photographer stays behind to cover the reception. This can be particularly useful if you have a very tight timetable with a short drinks reception. Alternatively, you may want both of us to photograph your couple shots – this is usually a lot of fun and allows the second photographer to provide styling and shot assistance and detail shots.

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Styling and assistance during group shots

Wine glasses, beer bottles, handbags, runaway veils, guests wandering off, misbehaving children – a good second photographer will assist the main photographer in keeping everything running as quickly and smoothly as possible. The second photographer can also shoot smaller frames within frames – candid moments within groups, or smaller portraits – away from the main groups.

Things might not be that simple; let’s look at the advantages and the key disadvantages, starting with some definitions.

  • A second photographer is exactly that, someone that is just as skilled as the first photographer. They will normally take the lead from the first photographer as they will have the experience, relationship and vision for the photographs. Still, they are more than capable of any shot asked of them if the first photographer can communicate well enough. They will also shoot from their perspective and be as visible as the first photographer. They normally don’t edit their photos, that’s usually left to the first photographer.
  • The Photographers Assistant is someone who is probably learning the job, they might be new to weddings, but an established photographer or have gone straight into weddings. Technically there will be no shooting done by an assistant, and they will follow the photographers lead, very rarely though will they not take at least a few shots, but these won’t be any of the important ones, they’re more likely to be in a documentary style.
  • A lighting assistant is a lot more obvious; they assist the photographer with their off-camera flashes/led or any other form of non-natural light. This job, when done correctly, is a pretty hard one; after all, lighting is one of the key parts of making a photo great.
  • Sometimes you’ll find a ‘second’ that is well versed in all of the above. It is extremely rare that they can fulfil all the requirements, but they do exist!

For us, a team of two photographers is the dream. More time either side makes way for a more relaxed timeline and more candid moments. We have more time for family, and our grooms get a sleep in and at the end of the day, we can happily squeal “Honey, we’ve got it all!”

Do you Need 2 Photographers for Your Wedding?

Capturing More Photos of Your Guests

I would suggest having a second photographer if you’re expecting a group of 50 or more guests. For my wedding, that was important to me. Having my favourite group of friends and family join my husband and me for the day was a big deal. Rarely, a group like that gets together. And I wanted to have as many photos as possible of those people.

Having two photographers at your wedding allows more opportunities to capture photos of those important people. When I photograph a wedding with another photographer, I typically optimize our time during family portraits. A lot of times, a couple will do a cocktail hour after the ceremony. During that time I’ll stay to do portraits of the family, while the other photographer captures photos of the guests during cocktail hour.

Optimizing Photos While Getting Ready

If you’re interested in photos of getting ready, having two photographers during this time can make things run smoothly. The two photographers can split up their time. One photographer can spend time with the bride, and the other can spend time with the groom. Or one photographer can focus on getting ready images, while the other photographer captures important details.

Also, if you’ll be getting ready at different locations, a second photographer is critical—that way it’s possible to be photographing two places at once. The photographers can start at the same time at the two different locations. This is a great way to capture those important moments for both the bride and groom.

Photographing Different Perspectives During the Ceremony

Having a second photographer at your wedding during the ceremony will allow for capturing different perspectives. For example, one photographer can stand up front capturing people walking down the aisle. The second photographer can capture the opposite view like the bride’s train and a wider shot of the ceremony location from the back of the aisle.

Also, during vows, it’s helpful to have one photographer capture the face of the person saying their vows, while the other photographer captures the reaction of the person listening. Ceremonies happen quickly, and they only happen once. So if you want as much variety as possible from this moment, having a second photographer will give you that.

Capturing Photos of Your Reception Room

A lot of times as a photographer when I arrive at the venue, the vendors are still setting up the reception room. I’d love to take photographs of this room and all the little details right after the couple is done getting ready. But most of the time, it’s not quite complete. Having a second photographer allows for more opportunities to capture photos of the room and details of this space.

Typically there’s a small window of time between when the reception room is set up and when the guests enter the room. If you’re interested in having photos of the decor and the overall room, a second photographer is really helpful. Right after the ceremony, time can be split up again. One photographer can take photos of the reception room while the other is photographing the family or the couple.

Check out our post on Why do wedding photographers cost so much?

Capturing the Wedding Party

If you have a medium to the large wedding party, three or more people on each side, I would suggest having two photographers. 90% of the time things run a little behind schedule during a wedding. Having a second photographer to help capture the wedding party allows for some buffer time.

If things are running a little behind schedule, two photographers can capture the wedding party at the same time. One photographer can focus on the bride and bridesmaids. While the other can focus on the groom and groomsmen, saving time.

In conclusion, I believe hiring one or two photographers is a simple question of balancing finances with your desires. If the points I mention above are not that important to you, then I am confident you will be happy with one photographer. If the above points are really important to you, then two might be the right decision. Either way, my team and I are here to support you and help you with that decision. You can hire just me, or we can add in a second photographer at an additional charge. What I do want to impress upon you is that most clients down here do not NEED two photographers. In my opinion, what you need is one very good photographer that you truly love and want to work with. The second photographer (for most couples) is truly a luxury and not a necessity. And being a photography studio that prides itself on providing great value, we allow you to make the decision to hire the second photographer.

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