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Why Hire a Second Photographer For Your Wedding

Bride and Groom First Dance in Allied Arts Guild in Menlo Park, CA

Bride and Groom First Dance in Allied Arts Guild in Menlo Park, CA

Hiring a wedding photographer to take photos during the ceremony, reception and party afterwards is a no brainer. It’s a must if the bride and groom would like to have the wedding moments captured. And the wedding photographer can guide and pose the couple on How To Look at Their Best on Their Wedding Photos.

The wedding photographer is the person would will use its talent and vision to create stunning and amazing wedding images.

Brides also have an option to hire a second wedding photographer who will team up with the primary photographer for additional coverage. There are numerous reasons for why a bride might want to add a second photographer (also called second shooter) as well there are lots of benefits of doing so.

But first, let’s mention the disclaimer: There will be no extra efforts or meetings required to hire a second shooter.

The responsibility for screening, hiring and processing the images from the second photographer, lays entirely on the primary photographer’s shoulders.

Many primary wedding photographers already have second shooters in mind and have been working with them in the past. This collaboration guarantees styles and equipment matching. So now that we know, there are no extra meetings and efforts required for the bride, let’s see what the benefits are.

1. Getting Different Compositions and Angles:

The primary and secondary photographers would be looking for, capturing the wedding moments from different angles which mean you would get many more differently looking photos. Both photographers would be also used a different perspective and lenses, so you would receive both wide-angle and zoomed into shots.

You will be able to see both the entire scene as well the individual images of key people in your wedding.The different compositions and angles would allow you to have much more interesting images in your wedding album later.

You would also have another benefit of having both primary and secondary photographers complement each other rather than capturing the same scene and moments from the same angle.

2. No Additional Interviews and Paperwork:

The secondary shooters are contracted by the primary photographer under his own contract so there is no need to interview and contract them on your own. This will save you precious time to meet additional vendors and planners. It is one less contract to read and sign and vendor to coordinate it.

DIY Decoration at Romantic Backyard Wedding in Livermore, CA

DIY Decoration at Romantic Backyard Wedding in Livermore, CA

3. Consistent Look and Feel:

Because you will contract the primary photographer, he or she would be primarily responsible for editing all the images (both from the primary and secondary photographers). You can expect a consistent look across all images (brightness, sharpness, colors, etc) which mean all images would be processed with the same effects and workflow.

Style (feel) would be the same as well. The primary photographers usually would pick a secondary photographer who matches their style (candid, photojournalistic, modern, fashion, traditional, etc) so you can be guaranteed your images would have the same style as well.

Related: Wedding Photography Styles Explained

4. Documenting Everything:

While the primary photographer is focusing on the bride and groom, bridesmaids and groomsmen during the wedding, there is a lot more happening: Grandma crying from joy, Mom and Dad gasping in excitement, guests reacting to bride’s and her father walking down the aisle, etc.

There is more than the bride and groom on each wedding, so having a second photographer allows you to have these moments documented as well.

5. You Get Undivided Attention:

A single photographer has to focus on all the moments during the wedding, plus capture the decorations, flowers, details as rings, dress, shoes. This means that he or she has to switch its attention between you (bride and groom) and these other shots that needs to be staged and photographed.

A second photographer usually takes these off the mind and shoulders of the primary thus freeing him to focus its undivided attention to you. You can be assured that no single moment would be missed while you would have wonderful images of your flowers, decorations and bridal artifacts.

6. Capture More Moments:

There is a limited time allocated for a wedding. A single photographer can only capture so many moments of the wedding, but add an additional (second) photographer and you would double the images captured. Which means there will be more to choose for your wedding album and prints later.

Wedding Reception at Corinthian Event Center in San Jose, CA

Wedding Reception at Corinthian Event Center in San Jose, CA

Also there are few extra benefits from having your primary photographer bring a second shooter to your wedding:

  • The primary photographer would find and hire a second shooter who matches the style and look consistent of the primary, so the look of the final images set would be consistent
  • Primary and Secondary would most likely be using the same or similar equipment (camera body, lenses, lighting techniques) so there will be no image quality differences between the images taken by both
  • Both photographers would have worked together in the past and know to supplement each other and not stepping on each others toes

Related: How To Prepare For Your Wedding Day


Hiring a second photographer is a great idea. It allows you, as a bride and groom, to have more moments from your wedding caught. Your wedding photography coverage is limited in duration, but there are so many moments and events happening.

Adding a second shooter to your package will not only allow your primary photographer to focus on you (the bride & groom) coverage but would also allow you to see how your family, relatives and friends have experienced your wedding. These reactions and emotions will happen and you can have them documented as well.

About the Author:

Trifon Anguelov Photography is a Premiere Bay Area Wedding Photographer in Mountain View, CA. Many clients in the entire San Francisco Bay Area have entrusted us with capturing their wedding days. To learn more about the wedding photography services we offer and book a wedding or portrait appointment, visit our Wedding and Portrait Photography Site



How To Contract a Secondary Wedding Photographer

Wedding Ceremony by Trifon Anguelov Photography

No doubt, every wedding or event photographer has been using or is thinking to use the help of a secondary photographer. Having one on a 10 hours long wedding or a wedding when more than 200 guests are invited, it is simply invaluable. The second shooter is not simply another camera body and lens on the wedding. He or she is going to help you save your energy by not having to run everywhere and endure the entire stress of photographing the wedding day by yourself.

By having someone else being at the cocktail hour and photographing the reception venue and guests socializing at the reception, while you as a primary photographer working with the bride and groom on their portraits, is simply utilizing your time and talent appropriately.

Besides the fact that a second photographer would allow you to capture images from two places at the same time, he or she are also indispensable for capturing the wedding events from a different angles. Many churches restrict the movement during the ceremony and having a second shooter would allow you to get both the groom expression when he sees the bride entering the church and the bride and her dad walking down the aisle to the altar.

Lastly, having someone with spare camera body, set of lenses to borrow in case yours fail for whatever reason is never a bad idea. The second photographer can also give you a hand while setting the lights for the wedding reception or help you tear them down after the end of the wedding. With all these benefits of course, there lies the potential of misunderstandings and conflict of interest if the terms of the working relationship are not well-defined.

Here are few for example to get your head spinning:
•    The copyright law in USA gives the image taker (the person who pressed the shutter button) the copyright of the images, so technically the second shooter can prevent the primary shooter (completely legally) from using his images in any shape or form
•    The second shooter can leak the wedding images on his Facebook site and tag the bride and groom even before the primary photographer has a chance to show them the images. He took the images and what harm a bit of self-promotion can do?
•    Nothing stops the second shooter from passing his business card to all of the wedding guests and offering competitive prices to yours. What is the whole fuss about it? The primary photographer already has tons of clients and need the second photographer’s help. Why not relieve his pain and serve some of his clients?

Well these are just few potential issues you might run into when hiring a secondary wedding photographer if you don’t have a contract with well-defined terms and signed by the second shooter. Below are the areas you should consider addressing into the contract:

•    Wedding Details:

Most likely you have asked your wedding clients to provide you with details about their wedding as location, start and end times, names of wedding coordinator and point of contact on the wedding day. Just because you have this information and know it, it doesn’t mean your second shooter would magically read your mind and have it as well. Small section in your contract for these details would go a long way to make sure your second wedding photographer knows enough about the day and venues to do his / her job as you might expect.

•    Compensation:

Listing the compensation amount and payment terms into the contract is a good idea. Are you going to cover any travel expenses, food allowance or is the second shooter going to get a meal at the wedding? Including these into the contract would help the second shooter understand how is he or she going to get paid and how much.

•    Minimum Number Of Images:

If you expect from the second shooter to deliver a specific number of images for the time he or she is contracted, then list it into your contract. This way the second photographer would be aware and understand before the wedding how many images are expected. If you expect at least 50-70 images per hour of shooting time, then specify that clearly.

•    List of Expected Images:

Many primary wedding photographers have a specific list of images they expect from their second shooters but fail to mention them or discuss them with the second shooter. Vague descriptions as ‘Go at the reception hall and take decoration images” or “Get me some ring and shoes images” might mean enough for you but imagine how a second shooter might interpret this. If you have a specific list of images you expect, list them into your contract so there are no misunderstandings later.

•    Image Quality:

If you have any (most likely you have) image quality requirements, make sure they are specifically listed. Are you OK with images having -2EV or +2EV exposure variance from the proper exposure level? Are you looking for artistic or formal images? Candid or Camera Aware images? Overexposed with flares and light leaks images? Use few words to describe this to the second shooter and I can assure you both of you would be having a much better long-lasting working relationship.

•    Post-Processing: 

If you expect the second shooter “to call the keepers” and deliver only the workable images but no out-of-focus, misfires or badly composed images, add his to your contract. If you are OK with full dump of all images taken during the event and you prefer to do the selection, then you can ask for all the images.

•    Contracting Terms:

This one is for the lawyers but important to have in your secondary wedding photography contract.  Mentioning that you are hiring the second shooter as an independent contractor and not offering any long-term employment contract whatsoever, is a good idea. If you operate in USA, you might have to issue IRS 1099 Form and report the payments you have made.

•    Delivery Schedule:

Defining the deadline for the second shooter to deliver the images to you sets clear date for you to receive the images. If you have a deadline you have to deliver the wedding images to your client, you will need to receive the images and to be able to see the final set before starting the post-process.

•    Client Privacy:

You are responsible for protecting and ensuring the privacy of your clients is protected. Many wedding photography contracts has this clause and you as primary photographer who signed a contract with your clients, are liable if their privacy is breached. Define what you expect from the second shooter. Can he blog or post on Facebook the names of your clients, their religion, address or any personal details? This is something to take seriously.

•    Solicitation:

Most likely you don’t want the second shooter to distribute his or her contact information to all the wedding gusts or to solicit clients on the wedding you have booked and hired him to help you with. It’s common courtesy you might think, but are you going to be protected without a specific clause in your contract? If in doubt, add a clause.

•    Business Confidentiality:

Hiring someone not directly involved into your business would reveal some of your business practices, pricing and techniques. Do you feel comfortable of these secrets being freely shared with anyone the second photographer knows or you would require to keep them private and not shared with anyone? Detailing what could be shared by the second shooter and what not in your contract is a good idea.

•    Images Copyright:

The copyright in USA gives image creator (in the case of film and digital photography, the person who presses the shutter button) the copyright of the images he or she takes. The second shooter would take many images on the wedding. Unless, you ask him to revoke his copyright on the images and transfer it to you, you might be liable if using his or her images without explicit permission. Also you will produce prints and albums with his or her images. Are you going to pay for the copyright to have each image published? Leaving this undefined will make you vulnerable to future disputes.

•    Blackout Period:

Are you thinking to offer the second photographer an opportunity to use the images for their own portfolio, on their Facebook page or promotion instead of payment? If so, you as primary photographer who booked the wedding and suppose to provide the images to your client, don’t want these images to be published or be distributed before you had a chance to present them to the client, right? If so, then clearly mention in your contract how long the secondary photographer is not allowed to publish or use the images. 60 to 90 days blackout period is not uncommon.

•    Prints and Reproduction:

This one is related to the previous one somehow. This clause would prevent the second photographer from offering prints from his images to your clients, producing album or any other type of profiting from the images. If you don’t want your client to receive prints offers from your second shooter on cheaper prices than yours or no offers at all, having this term specified in your contract is a must.

•    Equipment Loan Details:

If you plan to load any equipment to the secondary photographer (camera body, lenses, flashes, company car), make sure you list these and their condition into the contract. Do you expect them returned into the condition you have loaned them? How would you handle any potential damages, or lost? It’s good for both of you to know that in advance.


I am sure I have missed some of the terms or points a perfect second photographer contract should have but the above should give you a good list of areas to add to your contract. I am neither a lawyer nor have a law degree, so consult your legal adviser or lawyer to draft the final contract.

I also understand that some primary photographers pick a second photographer based on mutual friendship and well established trust and are not going to consider to hire someone they cannot trust. So if some of the terms sound too demanding and you believe might cast a shadow of mistrust on the second shooter, ask your self:

  • Is the business I have worked so hard to establish and grow can be impacted by any damage the secondary shooter can do to my client or my business?
  • Do I feel OK with being unprotected and not having the legal grounds to correct improper behavior or defend my business?

While you will hire a secondary photographer for the mutually beneficial and professional relationship, having well-defined grounds for this relationship would be a great peace of mind for both you and the second photographer.

I hope you found this article useful and easy to read. If you think this information might be useful to anyone who is planning to hire a secondary photographer, please share it by using the multiple sharing options on the bottom. Agree, disagree, have comments or feedback? Think I am missing a point or two or three? Drop me a line in the comments section and I will consider adding it (with full credit to you, of course).

About the author:

Trifon Anguelov Photography is a premiere wedding and events photography business  based in Mountain View, CA 94040 and serving clients in San Francisco Bay Area, CA. To learn more about the services I offer, visit my Wedding Packages page. You can read more about the author on his Wedding Photography Site.