On high-season weekends (mid-May to mid-October) I only offer two-photographer packages. And, I’m often asked by couples–who love my work, but have set low budgets for wedding photography–if they can dispense with that second photographer to save money. My answer is always an unequivocal “no.”
I insist on a second photographer because I know that one photographer working alone cannot provide the coverage couples deserve. It boils down to the simple fact that one person can’t be in two places at the same time. One person can’t be capturing the emotion between the bride and her dad as they prepare to walk down the aisle and also catch the flower girl dumping her entire basket of flowers five feet from the altar. Or also be focused on the groom’s anticipation.
There is so much going on at the same time, if there is just one photographer, something wonderful has to be ignored.
I’ll say it another way for emphasis: At some points during the wedding day there are too many things going on simultaneously for one photographer to get all of them. Tough choices have to be made.
For example, last night the couple did not want to meet for photos before the ceremony, so we set photos for after the ceremony. The couple wanted to take some of the photos on the nearby beach which added travel to the equation. Even though I zipped through their list quickly, it still meant we were gone over an hour, and we missed the entire cocktail hour.
Now, to get good photos of the placecards, table decorations, table flowers, cake, paper lanterns, etc., a photographer needs to get to the reception room before it is mobbed with people. In the best possible situation the photographer sneaks into this room while it is still empty, cranks the lights up to full power to get as much light as possible for the shot, and is done before guests are invited into the room.
Thankfully, I had a second photographer. If not, the couple would have been screwed. The placecards were all picked over up by the time I returned with the couple, and folks were seated at all the tables with the lighting cranked down low; the bride, groom and I got back just in time for introductions.
I want my couples to have formal photos AND decor photos. That’s why I added a second photographer and why I say that during the high season that I will work only with couples who are willing to budget for two photographers. Because I strongly believe that’s what it takes to meet a couple’s expectations.
It’s also so much less stressful when there are two photographers. When I first started out, I worked alone. I would briefly leave the bride’s getting-ready quarters to go get some photos of the guys, and I’d tell the bride “don’t get into your dress until I get back.” Often I’d arrive at the guy’s room to find them running late. They were supposed to be ready for photos, but often they were just donning ties. Of course, that would make me late getting back to the bride, and she would be stressed.
This is why I have two photographers. If you are running late or the guys are running late, it doesn’t affect the other side.
Finally, having one photographer who can “cover” things, leaves the second photographer free to chase the unexpected. Often there is a balcony where one photographer can take psuedo-aerial shots of the ceremony. Or, when night falls, one photographer might step outside the tent–over even across the road–to get a nice shot of the tent. When someone is covering for me, I am free to go for the very special shots.
Which brings us back to the budget issue. If you like the photos you see on the websites of photographers who work with a second, you’re going to need to budget enough to get two photographers. If you budget only enough for one photographer working alone, then you should expect that certain things might not get photographed.