Q: Hi Emilie,
We are considering hiring a second photographer. Could you give a better idea of the benefits of doing so?
A: First, for those of you not savvy in wedding photography speak, let me clarify that hiring a second photographer does not mean having two companies photograph your wedding. In this case, the bride above, Jenny, has hired me to photograph her wedding at Migis Lodge next May. She's inquiring about having me bring along another photographer, likely one of our studio photographers or another trusted local professional depending on availability, to also photograph at her wedding, for an additional fee.
The most simple explanation is that two photographers means more thorough coverage of your wedding day: more moments captured, greater variety of angles, two different artistic perspectives, and therefore, more images. Below are several sets of photographs taken at the same event, at the same time, in different or identical settings by two photographers to illustrate this point:
While one photographer is with the bride (photographing the hair/make-up transformation, dressing and general girly anticipatory banter), the other is with the guys as they prepare and arrive early for the ceremony.
During the I Dos, two photographers means two angles on what is often the shortest part of the day but the bit with the most importance. If in a church, two photographers result in less movement and therefore less distractions to your guests without sacrificing variety. One can discretely stay put up towards the altar while the other carefully moves about capturing overalls of the inside, and side perspectives of the vows. If outside, the same rules apply with much less restriction as a canopy of trees or lapping ocean waves tend to dull our presence.
Most couples prefer to take their family photos immediately after the ceremony, at the start of cocktail hour. While it is possible to have one photographer organize and photograph the formals and the other capture cocktails, most couples would rather have alternate angles on the portraits as these are the images most often dreaded but also the most often framed. Recently, when working with J as my second photographer, this is the format we follow: J starts the formal photos (families and bridal party) as I take overalls and details of the reception room (tablescapes, place cards, favors, cake). I scoot back to the formals as he's wrapping up the groupings for an alternate angle and then, together, we both photograph the newlyweds alone.
Likewise, the same formula applies for the reception toasting, dancing, cake cutting, etc. While one is photographing the toast giver, the other is focused on the reaction of the couple and guests. First dance, two angles. Later, while one person is covering the dance floor fun, the other is trolling the seated guests for sweet portraits or perhaps outside composing a beautiful "blue glowy" (as we refer to it) overall of the venue at dusk.
Any of this is possible with one photographer, I might add, but there will be so many more little moments captured with two. As you can see from the images illustrated above, two photographers connect-the-dots, if you will, as the main photographer typically has to capture the "bread and butter" moments and the second can be a bit more creative and often it really isn't possible to be in two places at once. Having a second photographer is a recommended à la carte addition, but is not required. So why should you splurge?
I hate to use the old cliché, but your wedding photographs truly are the only thing you have after your wedding day. Why not upgrade your coverage? If you have more than 100 guests or more than two locations for your wedding day, I'd go for it! But even if you don't have a large guest list and everything is taking place in one spot, but you value photography and the careful documentation of your wedding planning blood, sweat and tears, you should go for it, too! We've covered 50 person events and 250 person events with two photographers; one location and four locations. It comes down to your personal preference and budget.
The common denominator among emilie inc. couples is their recognition of and desire for high quality imagery. Enlargements and albums and such are important too, yes of course, but not if there aren't beautiful photos to showcase. I'm not a "bang for your buck" kinda gal, so it's no surprise that quality over quantity reigns superior when it comes to service upgrades. Couples bulk up on ensuring awesome photos where it counts, on the big day, and come back for their books and mementos after.
Personally, I love having another photographer (or two! As was the case twice this year) with me. Unlike at other studios, my second photographers are not assistants or entry level photographers. They are each highly skilled, qualified shooters with significant experience covering weddings. I trust them and enjoy collaborating with them on how to best cover your wedding day. All have professional equipment and conduct themselves in a similar fashion, never obtrusive but always personable and a positive addition to your day.