What Is A Second Shooter in Weddings & Why Are They Important

January 21, 2022

If you’ve recently started planning your wedding you may have heard some terms thrown around and wondered what they meant. One of the common terms in wedding photography is “second shooter” also referred to as a backup photographer. But what is a second shooter and how do you know if you need one at your wedding? Well, keep reading because this blog post has got you covered!

What is a Second Shooter?

A second shooter is another professional photographer that works alongside me or the main photographer on your wedding day to help capture photos. As hard as we try, we photographers cannot be in every place at once so a second shooter helps cover the gaps and take photos of the moments that might otherwise be missed. They also capture different angles throughout the day, allowing you to have a fuller picture of your wedding day.

Typically, the second shooters I work with have similar gear as me to help your photos remain consistent. After the wedding, I also edit all the photos that the second photographer takes to help ensure the photo editing is seamless and consistent.

When to Hire a Second Shooter?

Now that you know what a second shooter is, how do you know when you should hire one for your wedding? This answer will have a lot to do with how tight your timeline is as well as how large your guest list is. The tighter the timeline or the larger your guest list, the more likely you are to want to hire a backup photographer so as not to miss any important moments from the day!

What Does a Backup Photographer Do?

Below I’ve listed a few things that an assistant photographer can help with on your wedding day.

They can capture getting ready moments with one spouse while I’m capturing getting ready moments with the other spouse

This is one of the ways a second shooter can come in handy especially when you are on a tight timeline. Rather than run back and forth trying to capture the main getting ready moments of partner and risk missing something altogether, having a second set of hands on-site to help take photos helps ensure that all your major getting ready moments and first looks from both parties are captured.

They can help direct family portraits and bridal portraits

Bridal party portraits captured by a second shooter
Wedding party portraits captured by a backup photographer

Again, this comes in super handy especially when you are on a tight timeline or have a large family/guest list. A second shooter can help break up the groups and capture photos at the same time as me, helping cut down your time for wedding portraits.

A second shooter can head to the venue/reception early to capture detail shots before the party arrives

While detail shots may not be the glamour shots, it’s always fun to have those to look back on to remember all the special details you selected for your day. A second shooter can help capture those shots while we are still working on portraits and they can even get a head start on taking photos during cocktail hour to help keep the party moving while I finish up any family and bridal portraits.

They can capture candid photos of family and friends’ reactions during the ceremony, first dance, speeches, etc. while I’m focusing on the big moments that are happening

Second shooter captures a photo of guests' emotional reactions to the bride's first dance.

During your ceremony and other important moments throughout the day, my attention will be focused on the two of you. While a second shooter can help capture alternative angles during this time, they can also focus on your guests and work on capturing their emotions as well.

They can help capture different angles of the first look, first kiss, first dance, etc.

Different angles of a wedding reception captured by a second shooter
Different angles of a wedding reception captured by a second shooter

Your first kiss, first look, and first dance are all major moments on your wedding day and are some of the best moments to look back on after the day has passed. By having a backup photographer onsite to help take photos, you are able to see different angles of all these important moments rather just see one perspective of that special moment.

A second shooter can focus on wider angles while I focus on close-up, intimate details…or vise versa

This is one of the areas where having a second shooter really allows you to see your wedding day from a whole new perspective. While one of us is focusing on the details and close up shots, the other can take a step back and capture images of the whole scene. By capturing photos from multiple angles and perspectives, you are able to really experience all the emotions and special moments from the day.

A second set of creative eyes

A second shooter won’t necessarily view things from the same lens as I will (pun intended.) They have different life experiences and creative ideas to bring to the table. They may have an idea for a photo or a moment that I may not think of and vice versa so having that second set of eyes really adds an extra layer of depth and creativity to your wedding photos.

If hiring a second shooter is an option for your wedding, I highly recommend it! A second shooter helps capture all the in-between moments that often get missed while I focus on capturing the main event. These intimate and in-between moments are the moments that help me tell your story better, and your story deserves to be told the best that it can be!

To see more from this beautiful Portland, Oregon wedding, check out my blog post here.


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