Do You Need A “Second Shooter”? by Las Vegas Elopement Photographer Black Salt Photography

January 19, 2020

Do You Need A “Second Shooter” by Las Vegas wedding photographer Black Salt Photography

The Second Shooter

What is it & do I really need it for my wedding day?

A second shooter is kind of like an assistant photographer. It’s someone who is able to drift behind the scenes and capture those other little moments you’re sure to miss during your day. They get different angles during your ceremony or reception and help fill any voids the main photographer isn’t able to get. The second shooter could also be there to provide a more artistic approach to some of the photos. By using different camera techniques and lighting to create dynamic shots you may not have known you wanted.

Before you book your wedding photographer, it’s important to discuss with your partner whether you think you’ll need a second shooter. Of course, it’s important to discuss this with your photographer as well, but figuring out what’s actually important to you and your beloved beforehand ensures everyone will be on the same page so you can avoid having to go back and forth with your photographer. Ain’t nobody got time to be inefficient when it comes to wedding planning!

I’ve broken down the four factors you should take into consideration.

After reading about each of them, you should be able to decide whether you need that extra camera power fairly quickly.

1. Timeline –

If you’re still in the early stages of wedding planning, you don’t need to have figured out a detailed wedding day timeline yet. Hopefully, you’ve got a general idea about the order of events. Maybe you want dessert before dinner – if you do, can I please be invited? Once you know what events you’ll be having (getting ready, first looks, group photos, ceremony, after party, special moments*), you’ll need to figure out which moments you definitely want documented.  For example, you probably want some getting ready photos but should keep in mind you don’t actually need a photographer on-site to capture the beginning stages of this. Your photographer can be elsewhere at this time photographing your details or ceremony location before everyone else arrives. Doing this allows two things to happen at once (efficiency always <3), and your photographer can still get fantastic getting ready shots on the tail end of doing your makeup and hair. Alternatively, you can have your main photographer take more in-depth getting ready photos while a second shooter is capturing the other details of the ceremony or reception location. Efficiency works both ways!

The majority of these decisions would be left up to your photographer. You booked them for their artistic eye, after all. I find it helps, though, if you also understand the possibilities!

*I define special moments as those things you created for your day that aren’t typical or only mean something to you but not anyone else.

My wedding was very DIY. I made all of my own jewelry as well as a necklace for each of our mothers. I knew I wanted the exchange to be photographed, especially after spending so much time on it. Ensuring my photographer knew ahead of time to help neither of us forgot on the day.  It’s best not to leave these moments up to chance or try to remember every little thing on such a hectic day. Queue lists, please! Writing them down and allowing the photographer to determine the best way to organize the day through photos will save you loads of stress. It’s their specialty- all you have to do is provide the information.

2. Location –

Speaking of getting ready, this tends to be a difficult time for the photographer to capture everything. If you intend to get ready at the same time in different locations, you’ll need a magical photographer. The photographer can’t be in two places at once, so electing to have a second shooter will come in clutch. Of course, you can always alter the getting ready times, locations, etc. to make your day easier to shoot for your photographer if you don’t want to add the second shooter. These are things you should know now rather than later).

Larger ceremony locations can create EPIC long-distance shots you’ll surely want to have. These photos can really set the mood for what it was like at your wedding. Sharing these photos with those who couldn’t make it allows them to get a feel of your day. However, if you only have one photographer they could easily miss some adorable ceremony moments if they are busy walking up and down the hill. Yes, a skilled photographer can make this work and still get the moments you need, but if you want varied shots from each angle, a second shooter is your best bet.

3. Guest Count –

A second shooter will always be able to deliver an alternate angle or perspective of any event on your wedding day. This can be especially useful if you have a large guest count. The photographer will miss some laughs or cute moments if you have 100 guests mingling in different areas of your venue. Hopefully, you already know if these smaller, more intimate moments are what are important to you to have photographed. Don’t feel pressured to capture every little thing on your day if it simply isn’t what you’ll enjoy looking at down the road! Above all, make sure you make your wedding day about the two of you. Don’t add, buy, or include anything you couldn’t care less about. You’ll regret it!

4. Cost –

Some wedding photographers include a second shooter automatically in their package while others offer it as an add-on. If the second shooter already comes in your package, you should totally opt to have it because why not? If the shooter is an add-on, you should weigh all your options and see what your budget can allow. Not spending enough on wedding photography is one of the main complaints married couples have after their wedding. Make sure you aren’t trying to cut corners (and costs) where it really matters.

As always, you should discuss all of your thoughts with your wedding photographer. They’re the pro and will be able to offer you their honest opinion and advice for what’s needed. Many talented photographers can easily capture every event on your wedding day so a second shooter may not be necessary. The “rules” can change too depending on the style of the photographer. (Read more about photographer’s style here) If the photographer doesn’t really do posed shots or operates the day more creatively then they may prefer to take the day as it comes.  Don’t forget that your photographers (and other vendors!) are humans, too. We all want your day to go beautifully for everyone.

Did these tips help? I hope so! Please, let me know if you have any other questions about having a second shooter at your wedding!

Black Salt Photography is an elopement photographer and wedding photographer based in Las Vegas, Nevada. Destiny photographs ceremonies in Las Vegas and surrounding cities and adores to travel where love takes her. Her moody photography style plays with natural light and shadow, laced with raw emotional moments, to create an authentic narrative experience. For pricing and information, send me a message.

Have questions about something else? Send me an email and maybe you’ll see it in my next blog post! Happy planning!