This is a question I get asked a lot “how many of you are there?” It seems a daft question to me but I understand nowadays that there are a lot of wedding photographers where two photographers attend a wedding. I have heard many reasons as to why this is the case and have even had a second photographer come along to a wedding with me on one occasion, but I personally have very strong opinions about why ‘Two’ is not necessarily better than ‘One’.
From a client’s personal point-of-view it sounds like you are getting a lot for your money having two photographers to attend your wedding. More of the day can be captured, and more moments are unlikely to be missed. If there is a problem with one photographers equipment, or if one photographer makes a mistake, then the other photographer is there to capture that moment thus minimising any potential risk of missing that essential moment. I in my approach am very much aware of being ultra careful to ensure that there is little possibility of missing or losing anything. I use several cards throughout the day to capture the day, rather than using just one card to capture the whole day. If a card were to fail then the potential for loss of everything is minimal. I backup the images to disk immediately after the wedding, and then to external hard drive, and finally to DVD before wiping the images from the cards. Any images I work on are then a copy of the ones on my internal hard drive. I use only the highest quality cards, Nikon camera equipment and have backup lenses, and cameras just in case, although I only shoot using one camera during the wedding day with the backup available.
Two photographers may sound like you are getting a good deal, but in fact when I had a second shooter I actually felt the day did not quite go as well. For one I had to be much more aware of where the second photographer was so as not to capture them in any part of the photograph. Likewise I had to ensure that I was not in any part of their photograph. I also spent more time with them to ensure they were ok and capturing what I wanted correctly, and that they knew what they were doing at any given time. I also had to ensure that the essential shots were captured and I had to spend time checking with the other photographer as to what they had captured. I have also found that in more cases than not a second photographer is not actually a ‘professional’ in the true sense of the word, either being a trainee, or more often someone’s spouse or partner. The main photographer may be a professional with qualifications, but the second does not always tend to be so. Don’t get me wrong this is not always the case as I am very aware of some competitors who do use two very good professional photographers as part of a team.
From my point-of-view I have never felt the need for a second photographer. I have always managed perfectly well on my own and regularly capture 600+ photographs at a wedding with the majority of weddings being nearer 800. I know therefore what I have captured throughout the day without worrying or believing that a second photographer has captured those shots, and I can fully concentrate on the job in hand without worrying or concerning myself with what the second photographer is doing.
My approach to wedding photography is a very discreet unobtrusive approach and to have two photographers goes against that principle. If you look at the top photographers, and I mean the really well known photographers, the household names, like David Bailey, Lord Snowdon, Annie Leibovitz to name but three of the more modern photographers, there are very few if any that work as a team. Each has made a name for themselves without having a second shooter.
A photographer has their own style and I believe I have my own distinctive style and approach to wedding photography. I can teach others to work in a similar way but everybody will see something different to what I see. I therefore am unlikely to be completely happy with what someone else is likely to produce and knowing what I know about weddings, and the experience I have gained from shooting the amount of weddings I have, I am confident that I can capture exactly what is expected and required each and every time.
What I would look for if I were choosing a photographer for my own wedding, and what I would expect my potential clients to look for when choosing me is a photographer who has natural ability, has a good work ethic, has a personality I can get on with as this is the most important day of people’s lives, who is experienced with good recommendations in the form of testimonials readily available to show, and has an excellent body of work in various different wedding situations. A photographer may be fantastic at creating and photographing formal line-ups in ‘normal’ lighting conditions, but what about when it is ultra bright, when there is snow on the ground, what about shooting the first dance when there is very little light, or when a videographer is using a video light on the couple. A photographer has to deal with many different lighting situations, and it is unacceptable for part of your day to be lost simply because the photographer was unable to capture it due to the level or type of light available.
Unfortunately this criteria cuts down the number of potential professional photographers to choose from drastically, and there would only really be a handful of photographers I would personally choose and would be happy to recommend. You have to trust that the photographer has what it takes to capture the most important day of your life to a standard that exceeds your expectations. You choose a professional photographer to guarantee the results will be there, so my advice would be to choose wisely and not simply because two photographers are allegedly better than one.