What is a second shooter, and do you need one?

Sunday, February 9th, 2020



I’ll take a step back really quick and let you know – I understand how stressful it can be to plan a wedding, and to have crazy amounts of vendors around. Having this chaos feels so overwhelming (even if your guests can’t tell) and you may be thinking “Why in the world would I add another body to this strange condition of weddings?”

It’s time for some real talk about second shooters.

Your wedding photographer is a bad-ass. They’re powering through this amazing day carrying heavy gear that they know front to back, constantly on the look out for the smallest moments for you to remember. Yet they are making absolutely breathtaking images that show just how perfect your time there was. They’re appeasing your family who used to see weddings shot on film. They’re making a whole variance of personalities in your bridal party laugh and actually enjoy themselves during the portrait part of your day. And they’re doing it all while remembering “This is their one wedding day, I have to serve them at 110% perfectly.“.

Here’s the benefits to adding a second photographer to your collection:

Reasons to add a second shooter to your service:

1. Your photographer can be in two places at once saving you time … and money.

If I’m shooting alone, I can’t photograph you coming down the aisle from the front and the back. If you’re getting ready in two locations 20 minutes apart, you’ll have to add on at least 2-3 hours of coverage to get both of your “getting ready” images taken. These are just a few examples of things that can be solved by adding a second photographer. I know that they’ll have the opposite angle than me, and I’ll be able to fulfill my creative need to have all the variations of an image that I want to create. The cost of a second photographer is less than two additional hours of coverage on your wedding – since we can also be in two places at once, it’s ultimately saving you time and money.

2. They can photograph everything happening behind us and in another room.

While we mentioned in the last paragraph that we can be separated, this comes in handy more often than just the getting ready section of your day. Second photographers are amazing to have during family photos (where they can photograph people hugging, meeting, loving each other behind the camera) and during things like cocktail hour (when you might slip out for some portraits, but you still want your cocktail hour photographed). Second photographers are invaluable when it comes to images of your guests enjoying themselves at your party, when you might not yet be in attendance.

3. They substantially add to the number of images you receive.

While there’s no doubt that you’ll likely receive a TON of candid and real images, having a second photographer substantially adds to that as well. They’re basically a clone of your initial photographer that get to run around photographing people being themselves – and this usually adds some incredibly meaningful images to your final image count. Invaluable images. Exactly what you’re here for.

4. There are a thousand stories being told simultaneously at your event – and we can conquer more of them.

The real lives and real stories of you and all your guests are happening all at once at your event. Having a second photographer there means that we can cover twice as much ground physically to capture more stories of your guests and all the things happening around you. It means getting to see more images of family and friends reacting to you, more images of things getting weird during receptions, more images of sneaky corner hugs and things happening in just split second intervals. All of these stories matter – and you’ll get to see more of them with a second photographer.

Your photographer is a bad-ass, and they are more than capable of handling your event alone – but a second photographer is an opportunity for your photographer to get multiple viewpoints, multiples angles on the same story, different perspectives and reactions and love. A second photographer gets to photograph more love.

BONUS: They serve as an automatic backup photographer.

We live in an era of unpredictability more than ever before, and having a second shooter hired is the most secure backup plan you could have in place.

While my contracts secure sending a photographer in my place if I’m deathly ill, having a second photographer already scheduled to be there takes the work out of having that replacement. They can take over in the event of a car breaking down, deadly illness, gear theft the day before, any sort of anxiety-inducing scenario you could come up with in your head. And while I already have backup plans in place for all of these example scenarios, having an assistant lined up just makes it that much easier. Or even something as simple as say, a train making me late or the lift bridge stranding me, the second photographer will be there to make sure not a thing is missed.

Did you have two photographers at your wedding? Share your experience below!


Hey! I'm Makayla, a wedding photojournalist based in Duluth, MN and Saint Paul, MN. 

I believe that stories are best told untouched, undirected, and with intentionality and meaning.

This blog is a space to share advice for couples about weddings, advice for photographers about witnessing events with intention, and steps to create decisions based on your values and what matters most to you.

Grab your favorite beverage, pull up a chair, and let's get to know each other.


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  1. […] Having a second photographer makes so much of this more possible than before: we can be separate for the getting ready portion, one of us can cover cocktail hour, you can so many extra photographs from throughout the day, and more. I usually recommend second photographers to couples whose logistics keep them separated or for couples who have more than 150 guests. […]

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