What the heck is a second shooter?
Okay, raise your hand if you had that exact thought after reading the headline. Full disclosure: that was definitely me, before I became a part of the wedding industry. When I got married, I wasn't shooting weddings and I had no idea what a second shooter even was. I've also come to notice in meetings with clients and through talking with many brides that the concept of a second shooter isn't something that is commonly known outside of the industry. So the aim of this week's blog is to explain the who/what/why and how of a second shooter and also to give you some points to consider when deciding whether or not this might be a good option for your wedding.
So, what IS a second shooter? Simply put, it's a second photographer hired to work under your lead photographer as part of your photography team. Instead of hiring one photographer to capture your day, you are hiring two. Second shooters are experienced wedding photographers themselves, who often form industry relationships with other photographers and shoot for one another on their unfilled dates throughout wedding season. Rest assured, you don't have to go out and find this mystical creature known as a second shooter yourself. Clients typically don't have any direct contact with the second shooter until the day of the wedding. Your lead photographer will hire and coordinate with the second shooter on your behalf, based on the needs for your wedding day. Chances are, your lead photographer already has a pool of other photographers to choose from whom they know and trust to produce quality work along side them.
Photographers each have their own preference for how to best use a second shooter; sometimes photographers always work together as a team, such as in a husband and wife duo. Some photographers include two photographers in all of their packages, and build their costs to include the second photographer into the package. This can sometimes result in higher overall package costs, as they account for the pay of two photographers instead of one. Personally, I like to offer a second shooter as an optional addition to my package prices. It's a great way to save extra costs for those who don't need it but still be able to offer it to clients with larger weddings or who desire two photographers.
This brings us to the all-important question- "Do I need a second shooter for my wedding?" And the answer is: it depends on the individual circumstances of your day. First, consider the size of your wedding. I typically recommend a second shooter for large weddings (typically more than 100 guests). If your wedding is on the larger side it can become more of a challenge for one photographer to capture every single moment, especially when the reception is in full swing and people are in many different places at once. Simply put, a photographer can only be capturing one moment at a time. If it's important to you that no moment goes undocumented, it's best to consider hiring a second shooter. Additionally, a second shooter can help capture the same moment from different perspectives. For example, when you're walking down the aisle, your lead photographer may be capturing your walk, while the second shooter is capturing the reaction from your groom and the audience. It's a great way to showcase highlights of your day from the point of view of two different lenses at the same time. Finally, a major point to consider is whether or not the bride and groom are getting ready in different places. If getting ready is taking place in two different locations, a second shooter can be capturing all the action in the groom suite while your lead photographer is getting all the best shots of you and your bridesmaids.
Keep in mind, all of these moments can still be captured by one photographer with some simple tweaks to your wedding day timeline. Wedding photographers know the big moments couples care about and you can rest assured that those moments will be captured whether you choose to add a second photographer or not. The best way to way to decide if you need a second photographer is to talk it over with your lead photographer, decide on what is most important to you as a couple, and plan your day based around your individual needs.