Cambridge Wedding Photography I Wedding Planning Tips #5

Do I Need a second photographer at my wedding

I am often asked, What are the benefits of a second photographer? Is it a good investment? Why do I need one?. Well in truth its not always necessary and it depends heavily on what your expectations are of the day. During our meeting I am able to demonstrate the features and benefits of a second photographer. This is based on the type and number of images you want, the number of guests at your wedding and whether bride and groom preparation shots are required. I talk about this in my consultation meetings but what about those couples I don’t meet? I’ll hope to outline the benefits here openly and honestly so you can decide.

wedding day, cambridge wedding photographer, first dance, tenderness, special moments

image credit Mark Nortcliffe Photography

image credit Mark Nortcliffe Photography

Before I start it’s probably best to say you may often hear the phrase second photographer or second shooter, they are one of the same. And I also wanted to make sure those reading this understood the worth of a good second photographer at your wedding. The difference between a second photographer and a photographers assistant.

I set certain criteria with my second photographers. Business dress standards, equipment and obviously ability. My seconds have to be wedding photographers in their own right be it part time or full time. They have to be passionate, motivated, talented and professional. They have to be able to present my brand. An assistant on the other hand is there to help the primary photographer with lighting and equipment. It’s very unusual for them to be shooting during this time. This could be someone who is just wanting to learn the ropes.

Getting ready

All of my collections start with bridal preparation shots in the morning. The morning spent with your girls is priceless. A roller coaster of emotions from giggles to tears, laughter to waves of nervousness and every emotion in-between. From hair and make-up to getting zipped into your dress. Your day starts here and all the excitement and anticipation is captured through images. This is the opening chapter of your story.

image credit Mark Nortcliffe Photography

However what about the groom and his groomsmen. If they are getting ready in a different location and if these images are important to you this is where a second photographer is invaluable . Its not such a long process but can make for some excellent shots of the boys. The “Reservoir Dog” shot, a toast, a beer at the local pub or simply greeting your guests at the church or venue.  All of these shots will be captured by my second photographer.

image credit Vicki Head Photography

Number of guests

There are parts of the day where my focus is driven towards the bride and groom and the immediate wedding party. For example during the formal group shots, the bride and groom couple portraits etc. With a large number of guests it is harder to truly capture the emotions of the day that will happen organically amongst your guests. Not to say that a photographer working solo can’t or won’t do this but inevitably some of the laughter, playfulness and emotions will be missed.

If you are having a large number of guests 80+ and like the candid photojournalistic style of images than a second photographer is hugely beneficial.

image credit Jonathan Bickle Photography

Angles and perspectives

Large and small venues can often prove challenging. Missed opportunities can easily be avoided with a second photographer. I’ve shot weddings at several cathedrals and large churches. Having a second photographer with me at those weddings allowed to me deliver to my couples a range of images from different angles and perspectives. Examples are the bride walking down the aisle on the arm of her father while capturing shots from the alter of the groom looking nervously towards his bride. One photographer shooting at eye level with the second shooting from a balcony with a birds eye view of the proceedings. Neither of the images below would have been achieved with only one photographer.

image credit Mark Bunney Photography

image credit DayDreamer Photography

In smaller churches often the ability to move around once the service has began is very limited. Of course every effort is made to ensure we are in the right place to get the best angle. Having the ability to capture key shots from two very different view points is critical for those all important moments.

assistance required

No one wants rain on their wedding day although it is said to be lucky if it does. In those situations or for early or late season weddings when the natural light is limited sometimes it is necessary to provide some artificial light. Of course there is usually always a guest willing to be on hand. I for one have needed to call on these before now to assist. But its far from ideal. Here the second photographer doubles up at those times to become an assistant. Another situation I often find myself in is when I am setting up a night time shot. All my settings and test shots can be done in advance with my second photographer. I then only need to call the bride and groom away from their guests for the shortest amount of time possible. It’s the time to party after all.

image credit Mark Nortcliffe Photography & Jonathan Bickle Photography


So to summarise. Do you need a second photographer? That is only something you can answer. In my opinion I would always recommend one and all of my collections with the exception of the digital collection have a second photographer include. Where one is it not included you can choose, as an optional extra, to add one on. Its not about having twice as many images to select from but being delivered images with much more variation. Images that tell the story of your day from end to end. A selection of images that include all of your guests not just the immediate bridal party. Images that show the emotions of your day from a hybrid of styles be it candid / photojouranlistic, formal, creative, innocent, fun and full of emotion.

image credit Vicki Head Photography

image credit Jonathan Bickle Photography

All of these images have been shot by me as a second for other local photographers or photographers that have worked with me as a second at one of my weddings.


If you are planning your wedding or special occasion please get in touch here at Mark Nortcliffe Photography via my contact page, by email or by calling 07982 077883


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