Glad you see it that way too! Archiving the people who have collected together for that one historical day is our mission, ethical obligation, and pleasure! Am not into treating a wedding as a glamour/fashion shoot either, but realise some brides will expect that from another kind of photographer, so there is room for both. xx
I think there are three criteria that can contribute to the decision of a single or double photography team: Budget (which is the wedding couples decision), the size of the wedding (which is both the couples and main photographers) and the photographers business model.
A primary factor of the budget (for the photography) is the value that the couple put on their photographs. When all is done and the wedding day is over, all that the couple have left for their memories is their photography and wedding video. Do they consider this, I don't know, but I do try and remind them. It's interesting to see the investment in aspects that will be gone after the wedding day compared to their photography. The couple that value their photography and wedding album are the ones that budget the best for a wedding photographer, and in turn a second shooter to ensure that all the main photographs and candids are captured.
With respect to the size of the wedding, the number of guests, the size of the wedding and reception venues, the number of things happening at the same time all contribute towards the decision of needing a single photographer or more. The wedding couple may seek or request their main photographer to have a second shooter to ensure complete coverage. The main photographer may provide a second shooter if they feel they will be unable to cover the event completely.
A photographers business model, when they first start out will be to build leads and referrals and get the exposure so that they have a portfolio which a bride likes. To this end, having a second shooter will increase their price and adversely affect the number of initial leads they can get. So they start out on their own, initially. Then, as their business grows and they provide higher end packages, having a second shooter may become a standard for those packages.
Well said. I would advise every bride who values photography (enough to put the money on it and doesn't just say she values it) to use a second photographer. I would recommend it to photographers as well. The years I spent working as an assistant/second shooter/album designer taught me just how important it is to have multiple perspectives. It makes all the difference between a straight-shot album (even with the most creative photographer) and a multi-pov album. It opens doors for creativity for the designer, and it can also open doors for the improvement of the photographers' skill and creativity. This can not only lead to parents of the bride and groom opting for copies of the albums after the original has been ordered and delivered, but it is what can make a business stand out...which will lead to future leads and a better bottom line.
Having only been shooting as my own entity for a year, however, I just can't provide a second photographer on the weddings I cover. I can't wait to be at a point where I can comfortably make a second a standard in my offerings.
We always shoot with two photographers, and honestly, I wouldn't dare shoot a wedding alone. There are many good reasons already mentioned by other responders for doing this, but it really boils down to the military saying "You don't actually have one of something unless you have two". The idea here is that things go wrong, and God forbid you miss some crucial moment because your memory card is full or something stupid, and the next thing you know you've 'ruined' someone's special day. Really, that's just not an option, is it?
The bonus for our clients in having us both shooting at their event is that my partner and I have really different composition styles, and so the client ends up with some really diverse shots that look fresh throughout the event. We all know weddings are exhausting to work, so I think that freshness and diversity would be much harder to accomplish with a single photographer. The bonus for us is a more relaxing day, which really shows up in the photos.
Lastly, I agree with Cesar. Yes, there are many, many guests at the wedding with cameras, some of whom may even have very nice equipment, but there's a reason we're on the receiving end of the pay check for that event and they're not. The bride and groom are having a fairy tale once-in-a-lifetime event, and they're paying for a professional to capture it. Period. If they trusted Uncle Bob to take the photos that they're going to hang on their wall and look at daily for years, they wouldn't have called us.
For the weddings I have done this year, except for one, I have brought a second photographer with me. Even when I speak to the couple before hand, the they bride assures me that she just wants photos of her getting ready, and the groom doesn't really care, it gives me a piece of mind having someone else there. In the end, the grooms are really happy that I had the 2nd photograph them getting ready and whatnot.
I don't mind if I have to shoot a wedding alone - but I think it is second best, and sometimes really impractical. For instance, I recently shot a traditional Macedonian wedding. I assigned two photographers to the bride's preparations (male+female) and a team of two to the groom (also M+F). Different locations and in both cases, the photographers were required from 8:15 am until the start of the ceremony at 1:30 pm - glad we weren't into make-up -the makeup and hair stylist started at 4 am!).
I sent one 'tog home before the wedding ceremony (could have done that easily with one, because of the informality and the ability to wander freely around the church) then another before heading off for a session in the city (60 kilometer trip) followed by reception close to the ceremony site (so 60ks back). Finishing at midnight.
Two videographers on the shoot, too -
That seems excessive, but 400 guests and community expectations about what would be covered (and NO men where the girls were getting ready) meant that full coverage was not going to happen with less than 3, and with such a long day, it was great to be able to cover one another for drink and food breaks.
"Regular" weddings are tiring, too. I rarely accept a wedding if I am not going to cover the whole day (I don't like these "photographer required for 3 hours only" requests), and I always like to assign a female photographer to the bride while she is getting dressed while I start the day with the groom - can't do that properly with one shooter; and to take a break for (say) a meal at the reception and not miss something I will later regret... that takes two cameras as well. I also agree with other comments about different perspectives and (to a degree ) other styles, although I do go to some trouble to set up all cameras the same way, and to agree a broad approach to get consistency: that is something I work out with the bride and groom well in advance.
David, you are fascinating and informative as usual, with a truly professional approach. When covering the meal though, we are always on the guest list, so don't miss anything and the guests respond well to feeling we are part of the couples big day too - gets rid of the "us and them" barriers.
The actual moment of food entering the mouths is only ever requested in some Asian weddings, so we are free to enjoy the food part at the same time as the guests, and to get to know some of them while sitting at their table. Other that that, and the necessary loo breaks, because I enjoy wedding days so much, don't really stop at all, so 12 hours plus days are standard. Great too that you only do full day and night's weddings! Wish I'd been there too on your Macedonian wedding! I have a wedding in Cyprus next week, but nothing on that scale!
Hello! Marvin here. I have to comment on this one and agreeing with everyone here that two photographers are better than one. Different angle and different shooting styles for me and my brother. It eliminates the moment that you have to pull out your back up camera if something goes wrong. We've seen it and enjoyed the fact that in the busiest moment of the bride and groom one of us will be able to capture their story and portray it for them after wards. It is the best feeling in the world when they say, "How did you get that shot?". I love it!
When I planned my wedding I didn't think two photographers were necessary, like tomKphoto said, most your guest have cameras, phones etc. My photographer insisted on two photographers and I am so glad she did! I got such a better variety of shots and angles and less "posed" looking photos from the second shooter!
We use two for the same reasons that others have offered here. The ability to cover more that one location during the preparations and to capture the action from multiple angles when it happens fast (as it most often can).