The Second Photographer
If you’ve been to more than one wedding in your life, you kind of get the feeling that a wedding is really just organized chaos. Beautiful organized chaos, but organized chaos nonetheless. One of the services provided by a majority of photographers in the wedding industry right now is to add a second photographer (or third) to the wedding day. Usually the second photographer, or second shooter, is mainly responsible for documentation of the groom getting ready, different and unique angles during key moments like ceremony and first look, and lastly backup for the primary photographer should something go wrong on the wedding day.
The Groom getting ready (or groom prep) is usually not the fanciest of ordeals. That’s not to say that guys don’t take a while to get dapper, but, with a few exceptions, usually the groom and all his groomsmen are getting ready in a fraction of the time that his bride and her girls are.
During this abbreviated time the second photographer’s main task is to do his best to wrangle groomsmen into a contained area, and document them and the groom getting ready. Sometimes it’s a smooth process, and other times there’s a decent amount of effort put forth in ensuring nothing incriminating makes its way into a wedding album later on.
A little known fact is also that every second shooter is also tasked with having the ability to tie a bow tie, pin boutonnieres onto swaying groomsmen, and if you’re really good at your job, do the pocket square perfectly for a groom and six guys.
[Image taken working with Joseph Delgado Photography]
[Image taken working with Andres Valenzuela Photography]
[Image taken working with Rich Wantula Photography]
When you take two photographers and put them in the same scene, all sorts of different things enter their mind. Gear, lighting, posing, and backgrounds all come into play and no photographer is going to look at it the same way.
Here’s a few examples. Sarah and Gregg had a beautifully intimate backyard wedding. I was lucky enough to have my second shooter, Tim be with me that day before he passed a few months later.
You can see my image here:
and his here:
As you can see in this scene, within 2 seconds of each other, Tim and I got two completely different images from each other, both of which Sarah + Gregg loved.
In addition to the little moments like that, every wedding day has different moments that one person couldn’t capture alone, from getting the bride’s and the groom’s face the moment they first lock eyes in a ceremony or first look to seeing the couple savor their first dance, and the bride’s parents across the room in a tender embrace as they watch their daughter start a new life.
Here’s an image I was able to get shooting during an All Saint’s Chapel Wedding Ceremony in Raleigh, for Jen with JB Haygood Photography. You can see her tucked down to the front right of the aisle, making this a perfect example of an image you’d be unable to get without a second photographer.
Being a wedding photographer, you either learn fast that backup is the most important part of your job, or you break someone’s heart when you have to tell them that for whatever reason, you can’t deliver them the images from their special day. That said, the final and most important reason I like shooting with a second photographer on a wedding day is that it is one final fail-safe for your day. Sure we may not be together for Bride and Groom prep, but from that point on forward, we’re shooting together the entire day and we’re doubling the input of wedding images. If one of us has a camera or lens break (which has happened twice now), we can trade off with each other and adapt a lot better to the situation than we can if we’re just pulling from our own backup gear.
To bring everything together, there are plenty of weddings I shoot each year without using a second photographer and it’s worth mentioning that some photographers even prefer not to use one at all. Personally, however, I’ve found that the difference between the weddings I work solo, verses the ones where I have a team have a certain depth to them that can’t be replicated, so I’m always going to say that the second is the best way to go. Doubling your investment for a fraction of the price is something you don’t have to think too hard about.
[Image taken working with NJ Indian Wedding Photographer Charmi Pena]
[Image taken working with OneEleven Weddings]
[Image taken working for Joseph Delgado Photography]
About the images
These second photographer images were taken with combinations of a Nikon D4s, Nikon D750, Nikkor 85mm 1.4G, Nikkor 45mm Tilt Shift, Nikkor 24mm 1.4G, 5 off camera Flashpoint R2 Speedlights, and 2 AD-200 strobes with an assortment of MagMod modifiers. All of my images are color corrected with Adobe Lightroom only and not altered or photoshopped in any way.
I’d also like to extend a huge thank you to the photographers I worked with for letting me share these images.