I’ve been meaning to write this post for a long time, but believe it or not, it’s a somewhat controversial topic among photographers. So I haven’t broached the subject. It’s about having a second photographer for my weddings. I’ve always included a 2nd photographer as part of all of my packages. I think out of close to 100 weddings I have shot, only 1 wedding was shot without a second photographer. So why is this topic controversial? I’m so glad you asked!
There are photographers out there that will charge an additional fee for a second photographer. “Pay an additional $xxx for another master photographer! Your big day will not be complete unless you have two different angles covered!” I get it. More is better. I do understand there is a cost of doing business and hiring a second person to be at the wedding. But, what some photographers won’t tell you is that they will hire a 2nd photographer who is NOT qualified to be shooting weddings. This could be somebody who just picked up a camera, still a portfolio-builder, or just a glorified assistant with a camera. So they will charge a premium for this master photographer, but in reality, they might be just paying them with wedding cakes.
For my studio, I only hire qualified second photographers. I review their portfolio thoroughly, check out references, and most importantly, I only hire established photographers to shoot for my studio. I do not hire portfolio builders. I also offer my clients the opportunity to review all of my second photographer’s portfolio upon request. In order to shoot with my studio, I require the following;
1. My second photographers have the same professional grade cameras & lenses as me. This is an added insurance for my couple. Even though my team shoots with only professional grade full frame cameras such as Canon 5DMark 3 and 5DMark 2, they do malfunction, unfortunately. So between myself and my associate photographer, we usually have 4 camera bodies, and an assortment of lenses both as primary and backup. This is an added layer of insurance for my couple. Should my cameras malfunction, I can always just grab my 2nd photographer’s camera and keep shooting.
2. They have shot a minimum of 15-20 weddings on their own. Let’s face it, things happen. What if I get into a car accident on the way from ceremony to reception? Without a competent second photographer who can take over at a moment’s notice, it will really put my clients in a bind. Only an experienced photographer can take over when necessary. Not somebody who’s working for wedding cakes (I have nothing against wedding cakes, I promise.)
3. My associate photographers must shoot in the same style as me. I count on my associate photographers to capture moments when I’m not there. For example, when I’m shooting bride & groom portraits, I might have my 2nd photographer shoot all the details, cocktail hour, and the reception room. Stylistically, it must be a match. I wouldn’t want my client to be able to tell which images are from me and which are from the 2nd photographer.
Now because they are all well established photographers, they come with a premium cost. This is a cost I absorbed into my basic fee. But I feel my clients deserve nothing but the best from my studio. So in reality, my clients really do have two master photographers at their weddings. Win win for everybody!
The two images in this blog post took place at the exact same moment. We were shooting the bride & groom’s portrait and the bride’s mom came up and just embraced the bride. It was a total unplanned moment, but the emotion was raw & real. My associate photographer automatically moved to a different angle and snapped the image at the same exact time as me. I won’t tell you which one is my image. But I think the result is clear. Two images, same exact moment, equally as powerful.