One of the decisions I made early on in my business was that I would always have another photographer to assist me on wedding days. And each wedding shows me just how invaluable the 2nd shooter is to my wedding day shooting style.
Here are the 6 biggest ways that having a second photographer benefits me on the wedding day.
1. Being in two places at once - Having a 2nd shooter allows me to focus on the bride and her bridal details during the getting ready portion of the wedding day and still have the groom and groom's details covered. At just about every wedding, we split up to cover the getting ready time, but this often happens at other times of the day as well. If the sun is setting, I can send the 2nd shooter to get an outdoor detail shot that we haven't had time to get yet while I am still shooting portraits. One of us can be setting up the reception lighting equipment for the entrance while the other is taking detail shots of the reception or covering cocktail hour. A lot happens on a wedding day, so having two people to cover it really helps!
2. Getting the 2nd angle - During the ceremony as well as bride and groom portrait time, the second photographer's main job is to get a different angle. Having two people shooting allows for a more complete story and for more images in the same amount of portrait time. Having two photographers is also really important in capturing moments like the bride walking down the aisle and the first kiss and other quick moments. One photographer would be able to fire off 3-4 almost identical shots of the kissing and deliver the best one. But two photographers means that the couple receives a closeup shot as well as a full length shot.
3. Helping me get photos I wouldn't otherwise be able to get - For this particular image, the church lady had just set out a distracting sign right in front of the church. My assistant was able to move it out of the way so I could get a clean shot of the front of the church. Having someone to help stage shots or clear things out of the frame means the final images will be better.
4. Keeping family formals organized - Organizing and shooting the family formals is one of the highest pressure moments for me on the wedding day. And since I've only just met the families of the bride and groom, it can be difficult to make sure that all the correct people are in the shot. My second shooter assists me during family formals by holding the list we have made with the bride and groom. She calls out the names for each group and then crosses them off as we go. That way we can move quickly without accidentally skipping a picture that the bride wanted taken.
5. Cutting down on portrait time - I shoot the bridal party portraits in 3 sections: the whole group, the guys and ladies separately, and then each bridesmaid with the bride and each groomsman with the groom. With a second photographer, we get a second angle of the whole group, which is great for candids. And then I'll do the guys group while the second shooter takes the photo of the bride with each bridesmaid and then we switch. Not only is this method faster, but it also keeps the bridal party occupied, so they don't have a chance to get antsy or wander off.
6. Helping me with my gear - Some weddings take place all at one venue, so there's time throughout the day to set up reception lighting and I don't have to pack up my gear completely until the end of the night. But when we're moving from location to location, I have to take down the lightstand multiple times as well as pack everything from my shoulder bag back into my rolling bag for transportation. Since my second shooters are able to use my lightstand and we often share lenses, they are usually carrying significantly less equipment than I am. So having an extra person to jump in and pack something up for me while I finish up the last few shots is a huge help, especially with the timeline crunch of a wedding day!
I could go on and on about how important it is to me to have a second shooter. Like, having someone to guard our plates at the reception from overeager servers if I have to jump up and take a few shots during our break. Or someone to stand in the dance floor for light testing. Or someone to take a picture of me with the bride and groom. And having someone else to cover the dance floor means I can run to the restroom without missing an epic dance-off!
There are at least a dozen little ways that a 2nd shooter helps me be the best I can be on the wedding day, which is why I always include two photographers in all my wedding packages. It's best for me and it's best for my couples.