Wedding Tips & Advice

Do You Need a Second Wedding Photographer?

Do you need a second wedding photographer?

Nearly every photographer or wedding planner will have different advice about this, and that’s okay – because we all operate differently, and we all have different levels (and types) of experience.  If you are wondering, “do you need a second wedding photographer” for your wedding day, I am here to lend my 100% honest and candid opinions (and advice).

Do you need a second wedding photographer? I say no.

There are a few variables, but I truly believe that you do NOT need a second wedding photographer IF:

  • You hire a talented lead photographer with lots of experience with a style you love.
  • You can trust your lead photographer 100%. (If you can’t, don’t hire them).
  • If you have fewer than 200 guests AND you don’t mind if they don’t all get a photo. (You are okay with those group photos during the cocktail hour and reception).

For my very own wedding day, you are damn sure that I care about my photographs. It was our #1 priority (after having an amazing time with our friends and family). We were going to do everything the right way when it came to photography — and I didn’t hire a second photographer.  It never even crossed my mind. And I am 100% okay with that.

Let’s now say that I have a budget of $4,500 (out the door) for my wedding photography budget after tax.  That would mean that I would need to find a local photographer for around $4,000.   (Adjust your numbers here based on your wedding photography budget, if it’s different.) Remember, it’s the rate plus tax.

With that budget of $4,000 pre-tax, I have two options:

1. Find ONE lead photographer who is bad ass at what they do and trust them 100% (as I should) who is worth $4,000 (or more). Do you need a second wedding photographer to build trust? No.
2. Find a lead photographer who isn’t as good as the more expensive one, but find comfort in a second photographer being there simply to add a higher number of photos (neither of which match the consistency, quality, and delivery of that more expensive lead photographer). Do you need a second wedding photographer for higher quality? no.

So (for me), it was a no-brainer.  Hire the more expensive lead photographer who I could trust and have the style I love.

Because – after all – these are the photographs that would last me the rest of my life, it’s the photographs I’m going to show my future children and grandchildren, and it’s the photographs that will be amongst my most cherished of memories.

If you’re still not sold on only having one photographer…

  • Your lead photographer is most often more experienced than the second photographer, and the second photographer is photographing the same exact moments just from a different angle. During many moments of your wedding day, the second shooter is simply photographing a different angle of the same moment… and there is ALWAYS one angle that is better than another. So, why would you want that other angle that isn’t as great, and from a photographer with less experience?
  • You save money by only hiring the solo lead photographer.

Do you need a second wedding photographer if you have a lot of guests?

If you have fewer than 200 guests, what it really boils down to is this: Do you want quality or quantity?

Time for some brutal honesty: If you are worried about the lead photographer missing moments, you’re not hiring the right lead photographer. He/she will know where to be & when, and how to capture that moment in a variety of lighting scenarios (from a high-noon portrait session to the midnight reception send-off). Trust is SO key when hiring a wedding photographer. If you don’t have that trust, it will reflect in your photos.

Look at the reviews of the photographer you are curious about hiring as a SOLO shooter. Are they all 5-stars across the board? If so, and if they have a style that you love — you shouldn’t have anything to worry about. Just do your due diligence.

If you want both quality, quantity, AND a professional service while having fun… hire the lead photographer you love, pay for a second photographer to join him/her, and be okay with the rate. Wedding photography is only a fraction of the cost of your venue and your catering, and it’s the ONE THING that you will look back on to remember all of those cherished moments.

If the budget is being pushed, keep in mind that most wedding pros are able to offer a customized payment plan to help make it happen.

So, do you need a second wedding photographer? 99% of the time, I say no. 1% of the time, I recommend you do. It primarily just depends on how large your wedding is and if you want all of the guests covered a bit more. Most people don’t. (I didn’t).

(NOTE: Not all second photographers have less experience, and not all second photographers get in the way. The above is merely my professional suggestions, opinions, and advice based on 10-years full-time experience as a professional photographer. Let me know if you have any other questions about the famous question of “do you need a second wedding photographer.”)

For a look through a handful of weddings I photographed 100% solo, check out these weddings.

And maybe you are wondering how much you should spend on a wedding photographer. Check out this blog post and it will answer your questions, and give you some examples straight from my own wedding day.

And if you are looking for an awesome Seattle, Woodinville, and Snohomish wedding coordinator, visit my wife’s work at Luma & Lavender.

Do you need a second wedding photographer?