When you’re narrowing in on the search for your perfect wedding photographer, there are many factors you need to consider; their personality, their photographic style and the equipment they’ll be using. You may also come across professionals who shoot on their own, and those that have assistants (also known as second shooters). But does it really matter?
Having a second photographer at your wedding isn’t a necessity, there are many photographers who cover the entire wedding day on their own and they do a fantastic job. That said, there are also wedding photographers who rely heavily on their assistant, not because they’re incapable of working on their own, but because they enjoy the many benefits that come from having a ‘second shooter’.
Benefits of choosing a wedding photography service with a second shooter:
The main photographer is of course responsible for taking the majority of the photographs, however, it’s always an added bonus to have some beautiful, natural, candid photographs from the assistant, perhaps shooting over the shoulder of the main photographer, to the side or from afar. As an example, it can at times be a difficult task for one photographer to capture both the formal portrait images and candid photographs, but having an assistant helps relieve the stress and provides organisation, whilst the couple can be assured there is a good mixture of photographs taken throughout the day. This is why so many documentary wedding photographers choose to shoot with assistants.
Capture the story from two places
As a professional wedding photographer from Bedford, I know just how important it is to be flexible on the day. No matter how perfect the wedding plan is, a slight delay can cause a knock-on effect, meaning you want your photographer to be in two places at once. With a second shooter in the mix, you get just that. The main photographer can be shooting the bridal preparations whilst the assistant slips out to capture candid shots of the groomsmen, as they’re getting ready. Another example could be during the ceremony; perhaps the main photographer is capturing the father walking the bride down the aisle, whilst the assistant is waiting to snap the groom from a more candid angle as he turns to face the bride.
Shoot the details
The small details are so important to your wedding story. Capturing the Rolls Royce bonnet ornament glistening in the sun may not be the first shot that comes to mind for the bride, but it certainly plays its part in the overall story. Each little detail from the table flowers to the favours, cake, chair covers, cutlery and glasses, reflect an important decision made in the wedding planning process. With a second shooter, there’s more time to capture all of these details, and funnily enough, these are some of the photos brides look forward to seeing the most!
From a wedding photographer’s point of view, working with a trusted colleague is handy when it comes to putting creative frames together whilst you’re also able to bounce ideas off one another. While the main wedding photographer will of course run the show, the second shooter should always be on hand to help organise group photos and offer a helping hand where possible, this could be politely telling guests to move to one side, or lifting up the bride’s veil to help the main photographer capture a more dramatic shot.
In most cases, the photographers will have slightly different ideas and techniques and this always helps as two creative minds are better than one. Idea sharing is always a bonus as it helps the main photographer produce images that they may not of thought of alone, and vice versa.
Being a male photographer, I know that having a female assistant (quite often my partner) comes in handy when it’s time for the ‘getting ready’ shots. Some members of the bridal party feel more comfortable having a female shooter rather than a male when they are getting ready, so having the flexibility to head out the door and shoot the guys, knowing the second shooter is covering the bridal party preparations is extremely beneficial.
All photographers are human, so in the very rare occasion where the main photographer misses a photo opportunity, it’s great to know you have a backup when there is an assistant on board. This also means more memorable moments throughout the day are captured, telling a full story of your special day whenever you decide to look through your album.