When you are on the hunt for a photographer there are a ton of questions that you have: how long do we need them for; how should we plan our day around photos; what style of photographer do we want; do we want prints or an album?; but one of the biggest impact on your wedding day can be the inclusion of exclusion of a second shooter.

Now, I should start by explaining what/who a second shooter is! Essentially, a second shooter is someone who is contracted by the photographer to work with them on a job/wedding day to help with the capturing the day’s events. For me, I ensure that all the second shooters that I hire to work weddings with, are of a similar skill level and with similar equipment, which has been super easy to find due to a number of photography group that I am a part o, which have connected me with some really amazing and talented people. This means that sometimes I get to work with a friend of mine that I love shooting with, while other times I bring on someone who’s work I really admire, but at the end of the day, these are all capable professionals who have lots of experience capturing such an important day for the Bride and Groom. So lets dive into what they help offer on the wedding day!

With that in mind, let’s now go into why a second shooter is helpful!:

  • Able to help organize during family photos
  • Ensures all details are captured
  • Helps get the perfect lighting
  • Focusing on the moments that matter
  • Allows me to be more creative

Organizing Family Photos:

A second shooter is super helpful in terms of helping to corral everyone needed for the family photos. While I do usually ask couples to designate a family member to help with this since we do not know who each family member is, but the 2nd shooter helps prep the lineup and makes sure that people do not wander off when we still need them during the family portion of the day. In this time, I am thus given an extra second to make sure that everyone is looking at the camera for the photo, no one is blinking and allows me to get a couple of extra fun shots, instead of the look at the camera and move on approach.

Detail, Detail, Details!:

One of the busiest moments for me is when I first arrive at a reception venue and people are enjoying the cocktail hour, and the dinning area is having the final touches added, thus I am usually caught between getting any last minute family/friend photos with the bride and groom, while also trying to get every detail possible at the reception hall before people start walking in to enjoy the rest of the evening.

At this point, it is super helpful for my 2nd shooter to stay with the Bride and Groom or take the time to grab some candid shots of the guests, while I set up my lighting for the evening in the reception hall and capture all of the details in the hall, as it ensures that I can then deliver all the photos of people and details that the bride and groom are looking for.

Helps get the Perfect Lighting:

When creating an image that tells a story, lighting is super helpful and sometimes I am not able to focus on it as much when I am alone, which is where a second shooter is able to come in and help me during the day. During the couple session, 2nd shooters are able to help, by holding flashes, or reflectors to change the light in order to create the look that I want. Similarly, the second shooter can help during the reception with adjustments to my off-camera flashes in order to get the look that I am going for during key events like the first dance, speeches and the guarder/bouquet toss.

Focusing on the Moments that Matter

During the morning, when the Bride and Groom are at their respective locations getting ready, a second shooter is extremely helpful to ensure that I am able to help capture and deliver every moment. These moments include the Bride putting on her dress, having her mother help zipping up the dress, the father of the bride seeing his daughter in her wedding dress for the first time, all of which happens at the same time as the Groom and Groomsmen putting on their suits. Thus, by having a second shooter, I am able to have one person dedicated to capturing both sides instead of me running between each location to ensure that I am able to capture both sides getting ready, all while running the risk of missing an important moment or interaction during this emotion-filled time.

More Photos:

Yes, this one is super simple, because having a second person with a different perspective is going to mean that more photos are taken, and more photos will be delivered. Knowing this, I make sure to have a plan in place so that the 2nd shooter and I are always on the same page for key moments so that we are not getting similar images. Often time I will have them stand on the left side of a ceremony while I am on the right and will have them do the reverse of me so that if I am at the front, I will have them at the back getting an extremely different look to the same moment. At the same time, I will have them grab candid shots of each guest during a cocktail hour, while I focus on getting all the details in the reception hall, and will have them stay with the groom when they are getting ready, while I am with the bride in the morning.

Increasing Creativity

As I have kind of alluded to throughout my other responses, having a 2nd shooter allows me to capture everything that I possible can off of the shot list, but a huge reason why I say that second shooters really impact the wedding day is because they allow me to worry less about the list, and running through each photo needed, so that I can think about the story of the day and how I can best show that in the photos, as well as how I can add some creative flairs to the images I am creating. At the same time, I often hire 2nd shooters that have a bit of a different eye than I because I want to hear what they are thinking/seeing and hear what they think we should do for photos as I always think that two heads are better than one!

In Conclusion:

Overall, I hope this has helped to shed some light on what second shooters do to help capture the day, and while I do believe they are really helpful to every wedding day, I know that not every wedding needs a second shooter. For smaller weddings it becomes a lot easier to capture the day without any help and sometimes budgets are a bit smaller and won’t allow for the addition of a second shooter, which is ok as well as I have shot many weddings on my own and am still able to deliver photos that really capture the day and that my couples have loved.