What’s A Second Shooter?

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What Is A Second Shooter?

You might have heard Wedding Photographers mention Second Shooters, but never really been sure what they are, what they do, or if you need one. This blog should help with all those questions.

A Second Shooter is an Assistant to your Main Wedding Photographer. No, this is not a Devil Wears Prada situation, OK, it is nice when they bring you a coffee, but that’s not what they are there for. They work for your Main Photographer getting extra shots of the wedding from different angles, and sometimes locations.

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Why Would I Want One?

There’s a few reasons you might want to consider having a Second Shooter:

  • Locations. If one of you is getting ready in one location, and your partner is getting ready in another location miles away, if you only have one photographer, who will they capture all those moments? If you have two, then everything can be captured.
  • Angles. It’s not always possible for your photographer to move around during the ceremony. In fact, some Registrars and Churches have very strict policies and don’t let the photographers move around at all (I’ve once been told to stand on a sticker on the floor and not move from the exact spot!). If you have two photographers, one can be upfront capturing your emotions, whilst the other is at the back capturing the entire ceremony from your guests’ perspective.
  • Everything going on a once. If you are having a LOT happening at your wedding, it can be hard for one photographer to get everything. Instead, your Main Photographer can get those group shots, your couple’s photos, all of those important moments, whilst your Second Shooter is capturing all those mischievous candid moments you might not know about.
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Does That Mean I Get Two Wedding Albums?

No. The Second Shooter will hand over all the images they shot to your Main Photographer, who will edit all the images together to create one fabulous combined album.

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Do I Have To Organise Hiring A Second Shooter?

No.

Your Main Photographer, will organise getting the Second Shooter. The reason for this is so they can check things like:

  • What equipment do they have
  • Are they fully insured
  • Are they any good
  • Do they know how to shoot in various light conditions
  • Are they the right vibe for your wedding
  • Will their photos work with your Main Photographer’s style of shooting

My Friend Is Learning Photography, Can They Be Your Second Shooter?

I’ll be honest, this doesn’t always work, sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t.

As I’ve already mentioned, there’s quite a big checklist your Main Photographer has to go through to find the perfect Second Shooter. Your friend might be incredibly skilled, but do they have insurance? Does their style match your Main Photographer’s? Would you prefer they were enjoying the day and celebrating the wedding with you rather than working?

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So How Do I Get A Second Shooter At My Wedding?

Just ask your Main Photographer, they’ll do the rest.

If your Main Photographer is anything like me, chances are they already have a network of professional wedding photographers that they have vetted and use regularly when they need an extra pair of hands. If you’ve followed me for a while, you may have noticed the names, Becky, Sacha & Katy pop up a few times, as these are usually my go-to Second Shooters.

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Are Second Shooters Less Experienced?

Second Shooter doesn’t automatically mean less experienced.

Your Second Shooter will already be (in a majority of cases) a professional wedding photographer. They most likely will have their own wedding photography business. It just happens that on that one day, rather than shooting their own wedding for their own couple, they are assisting your Main Photographer at your wedding.

One reason I prefer hiring Second Shooters with experience is because I have full trust in them. There was a wedding in 2023 (I won’t say which), where although the couple had told the venue and the caterer multiple times that I was a coeliac, they still served me something with gluten in it. Luckily, I didn’t have a big reaction as I quickly twigged what I was eating, but I still wasn’t well. Because of my amazing Second Shooter (I won’t name them as you’d all try to work out which wedding it was, but they know who they are and how much I appreciate them), I was able to step out and get some fresh air and they were able to cover candids and the moments I missed whilst being ill.

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Can I Just Hire Two Main Photographers Myself?

I wouldn’t.

If you have two Main Photographers, who have never worked together, who are both “in charge”, life can get very confusing. Just imagine two Main Photographers trying to organise group photos at the exact same time. Chaos.

This is why lots of photographers (including myself) have a clause in our contracts stating that they will be the only professional photographer. Videographers are absolutely fine, they do their thing, and they’re fantastic at it, and Second Shooters are there to assist the Main Photographers, but you don’t want too many “Chefs in the Kitchen”.

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Do I Have To Have One For The Whole Day?

This will depend a lot on the packages your Main Photographer offers.

Some of my Wedding Photography Packages come with a Second Shooter for the entire day. However, I do offer a custom option where you can hire one by the hour, so if you just need one to cover the preparations, that can easily be arranged.

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I Don't Know If I Need One, Can I Add One Later?

Yes, you can.

You might book your Main Photographer 2 or 3 years in advance, so it’s really hard to work out what you want or what you might need. Most photographers will happily let you add a Second Shooter to your package nearer the big day once you’ve had a chance to confirm your timeline.

Just be aware that sometimes there are special offers or discounts if you book your Second Shooter at the initial booking stage.

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Are Second Shooters Worth It?

I’m totally biased, and I think that in a lot of cases they are worth it.

There are a lot of logistical reasons why Second Shooters are an asset, being able to cover multiple locations, different angles, things like that.

However, at more intimate weddings, I’ll be honest and say only if location is an issue.

But what do you think? Did that answer all your questions about Second Shooters?

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