One or Two Photographers?

As with anything in life, It’s always good to know what you’re getting when booking your wedding photographer. Not only do you need to consider the quality of their work, their style, and fun little details like printing rights – but you really need to consider what you do and don’t need.

To the point of this article – I’m often asked by brides and grooms how many photographers a couple needs for their day, and it’s a topic worth some thought. The long and short of this writing?

I really think you only need only one.

A Little Disclaimer

Let me say this up front – This isn’t just a sales pitch for Making the Moment Photography – there are quite a few skilled solo photographers out in the area – and I’m a big fan of their work. Also, please don’t misunderstand, often times a solo photographer like myself might have an assistant with us (it’s always great having someone to help with equipment and the little things!), but we choose to not work in pairs.

I write the article because there is a faulty belief that “more photographers = better photography”. Is it true that “more photographers = more photos?” Sure – but not necessarily better.

All that being said, here’s some food for thought.

Safety in numbers?

Many times I’ve seen many local photographers offer dual coverage for a day, in a way of “hedging” their bets on coverage. In this case, their reason for having two photographers is offered because neither of the photographers are solid enough in their craft to be able to ensure quality photography by themselves. If they were, they’d most likely be hired out separately for their own wedding day bookings. Therefore, the thinking is that having two semi-talented photographers might be able to cover the gap in service. At Making the Moment, we believe that one highly qualified photographer is much more effective at providing high end coverage of a day.

Not Really Two Photographers

Here’s a scary problem I see often. Sometimes what a bride and groom are really paying for with the “multiple photographer” package, is really one photographer, accompanied by one or two glorified assistants, or often-times an intern. This isn’t dual coverage at all – this is very much a deceptive way of packaging a single photographer.

Like I said previously – I usually do bring along an intern or an assistant while shooting a wedding. But a bride and groom are never paying for this. I’m a huge fan of photography education, and so I offer free assistance-ships from universities. This year I have several young photographers coming with me to weddings all in the name of learning the craft. But in the interest of integrity – I refuse to package this as a “second shooter”, or anything of the type.

With Respect

Of course – that’s not true of every photography company that offers two (or more) photographer coverage. To be completely fair – some photogs just love shooting together, and have built their own style around working together. I truly respect this particular type of “group photography coverage”, but I very rarely see it. More often, I see what I mentioned above.

Duplicate Photos

But I also often see this other scenario of multiple photographer coverage occurring; I call it “carbon-copy coverage.” Sometimes good photographers do work together – but the downside is that they often don’t know how to work well together. Most professional photographers tend to know the right place to be at the right time… having two of them together, usually produces near identical images from each. I’ve seen it – two photographers using the same lens, standing next to each other, and it repeats itself all day long. In the end, the cost is inflated for the bride and groom to get near xerox images on many of their images.

Of course, you’re likely to get a few extra unique shots – it’s bound to happen, and I don’t disagree there. I simply disagree with the waste of talent, and needless added expense when this particular set up happens.

A Bit of a Distraction

One of the most important things I believe about a wedding day is this; it’s not about me. It’s not about the pictures. It’s about the bride and groom – it’s about family, and for many about faith. But it’s never a glorified photo shoot.

And this is a problem that will almost always occur with more than one photographer. Quite often friends and family will be more noticing of the number of photographers roaming around snapping pictures at a frenzied pace, rather than taking in the beauty of the bride on her big day.

One of the most important things about wedding photography is the ability of the photographer to remain candid and unobtrusive. When there is a team of photographers trying to move through a church, it almost always results in a distraction to the main event.

Back to Reason One

As I said – I only think you need one photographer. Let me highlight that – one skilled photographer – a quality photographer who knows how to handle the rhythm and pace of a wedding day. Someone flexible, fun, appropriate, and experienced. Do I think you’ll find that here? Absolutely.

Are there some great photographers out there who work in pairs? Without a doubt, there are a select few of my peers who embrace this approach – and they can pull it off and avoid the hassles above.

So how can you tell if your prospective photographer is talented enough to break away from these obvious missteps? Here are some good questions to ask them.

  • Why do you choose to work in pairs?
  • Have either of the photographers in my pair ever worked a wedding by themselves?
  • If so – can I see the photos from that wedding?
  • If not – why not?
  • May I see the individual photographers portfolio (versus being grouped together)?
  • Are both photographers at the same level of skill?

And there you have it friends – my thoughts on why Making the Moment embraces the single photographer approach, and why I think in many cases it works best. Hopefully you found this helpful and educational!

Brett

Author Brett

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Join the discussion 3 Comments

  • Andrea says:

    I am a wedding photographer from the Dayton area & stumbled across your work from a friend of a friend’s wedding on Facebook tonight. I was browsing your (awesome) site & came across this post about whether to have two photographers.

    I have honestly struggled with this concept because I feel like it’s the common in the industry to either tag team as husband & wife or always have another with you. Yet I do work really well as a solo photographer with an unobtrusive style. I feel very confident in capturing weddings on my own, I move quickly & coordinate events in detail so moments are not missed. I’ve wondered how to combat the perspective that “two is always better” in my own head & in the minds of my clients. I feel like this helped me realize that it’s ok to do what I feel is right for my business, and that if I continue to produce exceptional work & communicate that it’s “me” doing all of it… they will get it.

    Your post was just a breath of fresh air & your honesty is wonderful. I know I’m not a potential bride, but just wanted to take a moment & say thanks!

    Wish you all the best as you finish out this wedding season!

  • Twlya says:

    Thank you for your excellent rundown of a lot of my thoughts on this phenomenon. It really boils down to being unnecessary, and sometimes just a sham. I am alarmed that so many clients who contact me feel that this is the norm. I know very few excellent photographer-pairs at all, and none I would recommend who are living and working in my city.

    Thanks for writing this!

  • Melissa Perella says:

    YES!!!! I agree entirely with your sentiments – thank you for a well crafted essay! I have been a solo photographer for nearly 12 years – my work is published and frequently picked up by venues for advertising. I have never had anything other than thrilled clientele. However, there is a trend of wedding websites, blogs, and magazines really drilling it into brides-to-be that they MUST have two photographers – its a real disservice for those of us who prefer to shoot solo and do so brilliantly and effectively. I am physically fit, high energy, and extremely alert to my surroundings – I have no need to “fall back” on a secondary photographer who is not up to snuff ability-wise to capture the shots that I am perfectly able to capture. I just had a bride contact me today to say that she was bypassing my services, simply for the fact that she was able to get a “two for the price of one” tag team. Frustrating.

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