Paying for the additional pro is almost always worth it.

By Alyssa Brown
September 10, 2019

One of the notable differences when you're collecting photography quotes for your wedding is the variance in pricing structures. Some wedding photographers include ten hours of photography coverage with an assistant and an associate while others include six hours of coverage and work solo. So, what's the best fit for your wedding? Does your photographer really need a second shooter? In short, it depends on how your photographer prefers to work and what they think is going to be the best way to document your wedding. Before you dive into this conversation with your pro, here's what you need to know about big-day photography and why it's almost always worth it to splurge on the second shooter.

Related: Should You Buy the Rights to Your Wedding Photos?

Understanding the Terminology

Solo shooters, assistants, and second shooters (also known as associates) are the terms you'll see used frequently in wedding photographers' packages. It's important to know the difference so you can make an educated decision about the photography team you hire. A solo shooter will work completely on their own, which is something many photographers are experienced and comfortable with. Still, many other photographers prefer to work with an assistant or tech, who might do anything from transporting gear and managing film to occasionally shooting additional imagery when the main photographer cannot. A second shooter or associate is brought in to shoot throughout the entire wedding, and is typically seen as a partner or peer rather than an assistant to the main photographer.

Photographers Can't Be in Two Places at Once

One of the main reasons a second shooter or associate is called in is that a photographer deems it necessary to have two cameras capturing multiple angles, events, and spaces. This is typically the case when the wedding is large, spread out over multiple venues or on a large property, or logistically challenging in another way. For example, if your cocktail hour is set to take place in a beautiful location and you'd like a photographer capturing candid shots of guests, but you also want to shoot family portraits and couple shots at this time, dividing up the workload between two photographers may be deemed necessary.

Teamwork Matters

This is not always the case, but many wedding photographers sell their services as a partnership or team because this is the way they work best and feel most confident their clients are getting the best coverage. Weddings are big, logistically complex events, and for most photographers, it's more comfortable to go into the day with two dedicated photographers working in tandem so there's no risk of a solo shooter missing an important moment.

Your Guest List Impacts the Size of Your Photography Team

For a wedding with more than 300 guests, a photographer may decide it's best to have a second shooter and an assistant. For a wedding with 500 guests, they may deem it necessary to have a third shooter and two assistants. With large weddings, a photographer has to find a way to capture all of the traditional moments on a wedding shot list while capturing a larger audience and moving through a larger venue and bigger crowds. As your list scales up, so will your photographer's workload.

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