One of the most common questions I get asked when meeting with clients is whether or not a second photographer is worth it or not. This is always a difficult question to answer because every wedding is unique, and as such, every wedding has a unique set of needs and challenges.
If a bride and groom are getting ready at two different locations (i.e. Bride gets ready at a hotel and groom gets ready at the house) a second photographer is very useful and oftentimes necessary if you want good coverage of all the getting ready moments. Some of the most meaningful moments I’ve captured as a wedding photographer have happened earlier in the day—hours before the first guest arrives for the ceremony. In contrast, I’ve shot many small and more intimate weddings that only needed one photographer.
So, what’s the verdict? One or two photographers? Here are a few things to consider when making that decision:
Will you and your partner see each other before the ceremony? If you don’t plan to do a first look it can be challenging to fully document everything and everyone if there’s only one photographer—especially if the two of you are getting ready in different locations.
How big is your wedding? As a general rule, the smaller the wedding, the easier it is for one photographer to do a adequate job of documenting everything. The larger the party gets, the more spread out everyone is, which results in it being more difficult for one photographer to capture every moment. In general, I feel that smaller weddings (<50-75 people) are best suited with one photographer because more isn’t always better. Two people can feel a bit crowded and distracting.
How important are photos of your guests during cocktail hour? If you have a lengthy group photo list keep in mind that this is time that your primary photographer (and you!) will spend away from the rest of your wedding. Unless group photos are scheduled earlier in the day before your ceremony, this usually means that your guests will be cocktailing while group photos are being made. Having a second photographer during this time allows more coverage and ensures moments aren’t being missed while we’re speeding through your group photo list. I should note that this isn’t really an issue if you don’t have many group photos to take.
Below are a few example photos from weddings where I had a second photographer with me. Scroll to the right to see the exact same moment captured from an alternate perspective.
I love how this couple really embraced and enjoyed the rain on their wedding day. This moment made for a few really nice photos of their send-off as the reception came to an end.
All this aside, there’s really no formula or prescriptive way of determining what the best scenario will be for your wedding. I always tell my clients that I am completely comfortable shooting solo regardless of the wedding size, but as the guest list grows most weddings are better suited with two photographers.
The last thing I’ll say is that if budget is a big concern I firmly believe that one really good photographer is much better than two average or cheaper photographers. A good photographer can make good photographs in any situation, and while it’s possible that a few moments may be missed along the way, you will still have really solid documentary coverage from your wedding day to remind you of all the joy for years to come :)