What's the Point of Second Shooters?
Are Two Photographers Really Better Than One?
There are numerous conspiracy theories surrounding the the death of professional wedding photography or the exponential race to the bottom as it’s known in the office. I’ve mentioned a few reasons for the decline here on the Secret Wedding Photographer blog, such as free engagement shoots. Some will claim that the big camera manufacturers don’t care about us pros and much in the same way that Apple virtually ditched development of professional work stations and support for professional applications (farewell Aperture) the big camera companies are now focused on making photography easier and cheaper for consumers. Let's leave for another post!
There is another far sinister factor - the Second Shooter, lurking in the background. I’m old enough to remember life before the second shooter. The days of a now mythical creature - the photographers assistant. A useful beast who knew his place. I even employed one once who didn't want to be a photographer. He liked assisting. Having an assistant is great. They carry your bags. Make sure everything is working. Move lights around and hold reflectors. They were an amazing thing. Unfortunately they are rarely seen now. Commercially no one will pay for them. They have been made extinct by the birth of the second shooter. Another disastrous idea for the wedding photography business.
Like free engagement shoots if you ask clients to pay for an additional photographer they won’t. Of course they don’t have to because now virtually all wedding photographers include them in their packages. Many new photographers would probably freak out if they had to shoot a wedding on their own. The argument for having a second shooter is laughable - better coverage. More angles. Better pictures. Amazingly you can now see the exchange of rings from the back of the Church as well as the front! Not if the vicar won’t let you shoot from the front you won’t.
This approach reminds me of some of those films made in the 60s. You’d get the see the action from several angles all at the same time. It’s actually just annoying to look at.
You’ll also get to photograph the groom getting ready as well as the bride. This is actually the bride’s idea and the groom isn’t really bothered and he’ll probably tell you not to go away.
The biggest flaw in the second shooter argument is the better pictures. Really? I mean who is this second shooter? A spouse given a camera by the main photographer is popular - mainly because you don’t need to actually pay them. A student - handy because they’ll do it for the experience. A wannabe wedding photographer building up their portfolio - perfect because they’ll do it for free. Bit of a theme developing here.
Fact is that if you really wanted an additional photographer to actually contribute anything worthwhile you’d need to pay a wedding photographer to do it. Problem is if they are any good they’ll have their own bookings to shoot. Where’s the wedding photography coffin - I need to put another nail in.
So if you’re getting married this year don’t get carried away with the need for two photographers for your wedding - just book one really good professional and I promise you everything will be fine. The second one is just there for show and getting in the way!