Explained: Second Photographers


What is a second photographer?

A second photographer is exactly what it sounds like; having not just one, but two photographers at your wedding! Now, let’s decide how many photographers YOU need!

Here’s a summary of what each photographer does on your wedding day and beyond…

  1. The lead photographer communicates with the bride & groom, takes their engagement and bridal portraits, photographs a majority of the photos on the wedding day, and edits your photos afterward.
  2. The second photographer helps the main photographer be “in two places at once” and gives a second perspective throughout the day, taking photos in different locations and from different angles.

Who hires the second photographer?

While the bride & groom hire the lead photographer, and they don’t have to worry about hiring another photographer too! The second photographer is hired by the lead to be there for the wedding day only (not engagement photos or bridal portraits).

I always hire professional wedding photographers who own their own businesses and regularly shoot weddings as a lead photographer. That way, in situations where I need my second photographer to take control for a minute, I can rely on them to not only take great photos, but also to lead and direct people well!

Who I hire for each wedding depends on who’s available and not photographing their own wedding or portrait session on that day.

Parts of the day that benefit most from having two photographers:

Getting Ready – While you’re relaxing and preparing for the day, your lead photographer will mostly be focussed on the bride. That’s where most of the action will be happening, and brides love having beautiful and fun photos taken during this time of the day! But, brides also love to look through their gallery and see what their groom was doing the morning too! Having two photographers will allow for photos to be taken of the bride & groom at the same time in different roomsThis especially comes in handy for couples getting ready at completely different locations.

Ceremony – Your ceremony is the time that benefits the MOST. Because ceremony setups are split down the middle, it makes sense for one photographer to be on the right side of the aisle and one to be on the left side. This way, you’ll have photos of BOTH of your reactions to each part of the ceremony. When I’m the only photographer, I have to spend more time walking from side to side, which means less time taking photos.

Reception – Much like during your ceremony, having extra photos during important moments of your reception (like first dances, parents dances, and toasts) is awesome!

Portraits – Second photographers will take lots of extra photos during portraits! While you’re focussed on each other or smiling at your photographer, the second photographer will be shooting from other angles.

During family portraits, when we don’t need a lot of creative angles, a second photographer can act as an assistant and help gather the people needed for each group combination. This makes the process flow smoothly and quickly.

Cocktail Hour This usually happens during bride & groom photos, so your lead photographer will be busy. If you have a second photographer, they can step away and take photos of cocktail hour.

I grabbed a photo of my second photographer Marci helping guests find a seat in a crowded ceremony room. No one told her to do this, but she saw a problem and a found a solution.

Examples of photos taken by a second photographer

The left side was taken by me / the right side was taken by the second photographer 👇

Ways the second assists the lead photographer

Aside from taking more photos and taking photos from different angles, there are so many ways a second photographer helps the lead photographer!

  • Gathering people – Having a helper makes wedding party & family photos go so smoothly!
  • Moving equipment – I bring a lot of equipment to weddings! If I need something that’s in another room or across the venue, I can save time by asking my second photographer to grab it for me.
  • Dress fluffing – During portraits, I’m able to move faster and take way more photos if my second photographer is there to help perfect the details – straightening ties, fluffing dress trains, etc.


Quiz: Do I need a second photographer?

Do you want plenty of photos of your groom getting ready?

Yes – [Do it!]

No, we don’t need many photos of him getting ready – [Maybe not]

Will you have more than 100 guests?

Yes, we will – [Do it!]

Nope, we’ll have fewer than 100 guests – [Maybe not]

Will you travel to multiple locations or venues?

Yes, we will – [Do it!]

Nope, just one location – [Maybe not]

Is your venue on a large property that requires a long walk or golf cart ride between spaces?

Yes, it’s large – [Do it!]

Nope, it’s all relatively close – [Maybe not]

✨ Overall, I recommend a second photographer to most couples having a large wedding. But in ALL cases, I’m 100% comfortable with photographing weddings by myself. I do this really often. Your gallery will still be packed with photos of guests and photos from creative angles. 👍

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austin, Texas + ready to travel anywhere