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Why You Don’t Need A Second Shooter For Your Wedding

why you don't need a second shooter for your wedding


Why You Don’t Need A Second Shooter For Your Wedding


This is a risky post but it is something we believe in. We understand that there are many articles out there that will say the opposite of what we say here.

Your wedding probably does not need a second shooter. If we have your feathers ruffled, read on. We promise it will be interesting.

How much?

If I have a second shooter for your wedding with me, you can expect the price on top of your wedding coverage budget to be about $1500-$3500. You might say:

“But that other photographer (insert name here) includes one in their package!”
“I need extra images”
“But that other photographer only charges “x” amount”

To which I would reply that I am very concerned about someone who runs a business, charges a relatively similar package fee while accounting for two employees doing double the work. Secondly, I’ve never heard pro photographer willing to confirm their availability a year in advance in order to work for only $500 or less as a second shooter when they can book their own clients and make 2-4 times as much.

It’s the truth. We are artists, but at the end of the day, we do have a business to run. How much effort is going to go into those all of those extra photos anyways?

What you’ve been told


You can’t be in two places at once

Every single wedding you’ve seen on my website has been photographed by little old me. Now, granted the bride and groom have never gotten ready 1 hour away from each other either. Most of the time, they get ready close together or at the same hotel. Of course, I don’t include every image in a blog or web post but you get the story of the day. The groom’s reaction upon seeing the bride? Check. The bride’s reaction upon seeing the groom? Check. Experience and the right equipment can ensure you capture the right moments, without having an aisle filled with people and gear. In terms of getting ready, the groom and his groomsmen typically only take about 20 minutes, at which time I head over to the bride who is just nearing the end of her makeup application, and feels confident about having her photo taken. The remainder of the time is details and ladies hanging out. For the reception, your photographer should be well versed and outgoing so that they can move seamlessly about the room catching candids.


Different angles and vantage points

This is one that I really don’t understand. I have legs. I use them to move around. This is how I’m able to capture a day beautifully.


Less Stress

Developing a relationship with one person who you barely know can be daunting, let alone two. When there is a second shooter involved, clients often find it incredibly difficult to connect with you and thus open up. They also seem to have a difficult time knowing which camera to look act, despite direction. This is particularly true for family photos with large groups. What I find best is allowing the group to mingle, then grabbing their attention to look at the camera for a shot. The liability issue is one that we can touch on as well. It’s great to always have a back up that you can call, but I certainly don’t think they need to be there with you for the entirety of the day. That’s a pretty expensive insurance policy. For those situations, it’s best that you have liability insurance anyways.


Different artistic viewpoints

This is another point that concerns me. When you are looking for a wedding photographer, you want to find someone who’s style you absolutely adore and connect with. If you have a second shooter, often times their style is completely different than the lead photographer. When you hire someone based on their style and specific composition, there may not be the same consistency in the final product.


Why can some photographers offer “pro” second shooters for such low rates or the same rate?

Now there are some people who choose to second shoot exclusively, because they don’t want the editing work. But think about it, would an experienced professional really book a gig 1-2 years in advance for only around $500-1000? Nope. Those “pro” second shooters are often new grads or just starting out.  Wedding photography is not inexpensive, and neither are experienced, professional second shooters.  Does the deal sound too good to be true? It very well could be. For husband and wife teams you might be getting consistency, but they are able to more easily share one income and you are likely to receive nearly the same amount of photos as with one photographer, so the benefit may be minimal. In the end, the choice is entirely personal.

How many pictures do you need?

Alright so let’s imagine that you have one photographer for about 10 hours (average full day coverage) and you get 500-700 fully edited photos, or more if your photographer only edits a portion such as your formals.  That’s a lot of photos.  If you had a second shooter who shot at about the same rate as your lead, you would end up with almost double to triple the photos. That’s also a lot of extra post-production time for your lead photographer who would probably like to focus on retouching your formals since those are the photographs you are most likely to display. If you had triple the photos, that would be overwhelming for you to sort through at the end of the day. What would you do with all of them?  Would you have an album with 1400-2400 photos? Probably not.  Will you even print them all?  Most likely you won’t because it is time consuming, frustrating and expensive.


Quality over Quantity.

You’re probably going to go through all of your photos having to painstakingly choose between 10 photos of the exact same moment, get stressed out and end up only putting 100-200 of your favorites in an album.  Why pay for extra service when it would be a stressful experience and the majority of the photos would sit on a hard drive not to see the light of day? Another perspective: Instead of looking at 2400+ pictures and becoming overwhelmed, you receive less images but they are of higher quality and fully edited. This could allow you the joyous freedom to re-live your day in the perfect amount of time. It’s also much more cost effective when it comes to prints/printing and selecting images. Quality over Quantity.


I’m not here to change your mind. Hiring a photographer for one of the biggest days of your life is an incredibly personal and important decision. But I am hopeful that this information helps you to make the best decision for yourself and your budget.

At the end of the day, what’s the best way to make sure you don’t lose out by choosing not to hire a second shooter?

Work with a reputable, talented and experienced photographer!


Need more inspiration? Check out our latest post on hiring a cheap wedding photographer

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  1. Rachel Fox says:

    I actually whole heartedly agree plus I have found on the rare occasion I have had a second (pro photographer) that I am spending more time during certain parts of the day ensuring 1 that he is not in my way and 2 that he is where he should be. I have not used a second for 3 years now.

  2. Kerry Harrison says:

    My first 3 years shooting weddings I shot solo and sometimes used a helper (not a second shooter). Now for the last 4 years I primarily use second shooters with 90% of my weddings. Personally I love having a second shooter along, it makes my job so much easier the day of the wedding but adds a few extra hours of work after the wedding because of the additional editing time. I think it’s key to work with the same person for a year or two to build the best relationship so they understand how to best help you. Having said all that I agree with what you’ve written but most brides are being told they need a second shooter.

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