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Tips for Brides (T4B) is a regular feature where I talk about a cool tip that I think will benefit brides everywhere. For more tips, click here!

To continue in my series of educating brides, I want to talk a little bit about the benefits of having a second shooter. For me, it’s a crucial choice, and I very VERY rarely allow my brides to purchase wedding commissions from me without a second photographer. Here’s why:

1) I am only one person, and I can only be in one place, and looking one direction. If I am photographing the bride putting on her dress, who is photographing the groom sharing a last-minute beer with his lifelong best friend? If I am photographing the bride entering the church, who is photographing the look on the groom’s face as he sees her for the first time? A second photographer provides a chance for me to tell the love story more fully, from two pairs of eyes rather than one.

2) Accidents happen. What if I fall deathly ill the morning of a wedding? What if I get in a car accident on the way to the reception? What if I slip and fall and break my hands at a ceremony and I’m no longer able to hold a camera? It’s morbid to think about, but I’ve seen it happen to my colleagues before. Thanks to my second shooter, it’s all a non-issue. My seconds are very capable photographers who are able to carry on without me and continue coverage uninterrupted.

3) Lighting. My reception lighting style requires the use of wirelessly-transmitted off-camera flash, which is a fancy way of saying, the flash isn’t on top of my camera. At wedding receptions, my second often handles the flash while I shoot. This allows her to change the lighting on a moment’s notice, which gives me more artistic lighting, and more importantly, more accurate lighting, so the chances of me missing a great shot are substantially lower. I can achieve a similar effect by mounting my flashes on light stands, but because these flashes are hard to adjust, I am typically confined to one area when I do this.

4) Additional backup gear. Although I do have backup gear of my own, there’s always the chance that I could be mugged, or my car could get stolen the night before, or someone could walk up and take it all while I’m not looking. I do everything I can to avoid this, but just in case it does happen, I always know that my second has gear of her own that I can use in a dire emergency.

On the other hand, here is what a second photographer ISN’T: a duplicate of me. There’s a reason you’re going to pay substantially more for the first photographer than you will for the second. The second shooter’s job is to supplement coverage with different angles, different lighting, and different people, and to do some of the less important tasks – setting up flashes, gathering people for formals, ensuring that the bride and groom don’t see each other before they’re supposed to, clearing background debris, etc. – so that I don’t have to stop shooting to do those things myself. You really can’t and shouldn’t expect to receive the same quantity or quality of images from the second shooter, because they are there to provide a different type of service than the primary photographer.

There are many talented photographers who have had a very successful career shooting on their own with no second, and I’ve done it several times myself. However, I truly feel that shooting solo is risky business, and I believe all clients are best served with more than one photographer present. If your photographer offers a second shooter, and it’s in your budget, I strongly encourage you to get one. Think of it this way – you’ll never regret hiring them, but there’s a good chance you’ll regret it if you don’t!

Just to make sure I have some photos in here, here are some of my fave photos my awesome second shooters have taken lately:


  1. Jenni said . . .

    Your second shooter (Jena) was awesome! This is one of my very favorite shots of the whole day, and one that I plan to frame! Great advice!!

    Posted February 26, 2009 at 2:41 pm | Permalink
  2. Neil Mackenzie said . . .

    A second shooter to hold the strobe, sound like a great idea. I normally just have it on a stand which I have the move around. just found your website today and it is amazing, great work and great clients. New Zealand

    Posted June 1, 2010 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

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  1. […] having one or two photographers, including a pros and cons one I wrote last year. Stacy Reeves, Dallas wedding photographer, wrote an article on this that almost sways me into always offering two photographers.  I currently […]

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