Should I hire a second photographer?
My answer? Straight yes, here’s why:
I go into detail in this post of course, but ultimately, you can’t be in two places at once.
When I’m taking pictures like this:
It’s awesome knowing you have a quality second photographer backing you up, getting shots like this:
The Groom/Bride Prep
First and foremost, you can’t physically be in two places at once. The wedding is about both partners and therefore both should have equal attention and equal weight in the story of the day. It’s amazing to look back at the photographs of the other partner in the morning as it’s the one part of the day that you will have no exposure to whatsoever.
Everyone experiences the build up to the ceremony differently and is often full of amazingly intimate moments between close friends and family removed from the gaze of all of the wedding guests. Groom prep, like bridal prep, often happens in a familiar space, such as the family home. Being a familiar environment makes people relax and are arguably more susceptible to physically being in tune with the emotion of the day.
Again, the physical location. If you’re getting married in a church, it’s not uncommon for the authority running the service to ask us photographers not to move. This means you’re severely limited in terms of shooting different angles. With a second photographer, this is no longer an issue.
When the bride enters the church, one photographer can shoot up the aisle looking at the bride, the other can shoot down the aisle, capturing the back of the bride as she enters and also the grooms reaction to seeing her. The next big win is during the vows and ring exchange.
If I am in the choir stalls and can’t move, then I can only see one persons face and then the back of the other. The second photographer will have a clear view looking down the aisle of these events and can either come in close, or zoom in from afar to capture both expressions, because it’s a partnership, and no one is more important than the other.
Having a wedding with 120+ plus guests? I would always recommend having a second photographer. Why? Shooting documentary style images takes skill and patience, running around a wedding trying to capture everyone won’t yield good photographs.
With this in mind, it also means that you can’t one hundred percent guarantee that you will take a photograph of every single guest. Some people hide, i’m not kidding, some guests have actively kept an eye on me to avoid being in any images. This is the nature of documentary wedding photography, you can’t be everywhere at once, and you can’t guarantee that all kids will be involved in a ‘moment’.
Having a second wedding photographer doubles your chances. Typically the second photographer is also tasked with photographing the guests and details as a hire priority. Acknowledging that they are there in a support role, to capture things that the primary photographer can’t. It’s a team game, working together to produce the best product and service it the idea.
Guest reactions. This is what second photographers were born to capture! It makes sense that the couple and their nearest and dearest are most likely to have the greatest reaction to the speeches. Having one photographer trained in on those key interactions, looking for the killer shot whilst the other photographs the guests is a perfect combo. It again gives us access to different angles and compositions and tells a more compelling story.
Is your second photographer a pro, or a new starter?
I saw this post on a wedding forum which compelled me to write this post.
It’s really easy to forget that certain details are not obvious to clients, and details like this are potentially significant.
Here’s what the user wrote:
“A second shooter is NOT a second professional. If they were, they would have their own business and not be working a 10 hr day for measly pay. We do not hire “seasoned” professional photographers to shoot with us. They are newbies, people who want to get their feet wet, and people who want to learn how to shoot weddings without mistakes looming over their head. You should not count on the second shooter providing more than 10% of your images, and while there are of course instances where this is not the case, the overwhelming majority of the time the pro will only pull maybe one shot per sequence of events to complete the “story”.”
“I think it’s rather sad how so many people are so focused on there being two shooters they don’t realise it’s not two pro’s they are hiring. When you book your photographer make sure to ask things like how many images they usually turn over. If you are booking a second shooter, ask how long they’ve been working, a sample of their work, and ask how many of the seconds’ shots you usually receive.”
When the writer states ‘we do not hire seasoned professionals’, it’s unclear if they are referring to their own business practices, or a collective ‘we’ in the wedding photography industry.
Either way, the point they make is worth addressing.
In my own business, Liam Smith Photography, I only hire seasoned professionals to work with me.
If I’ve shot your wedding and you’ve seen moustachio’d JD, my wonderfully colourful Romanian chum big M, or the magnificently bearded Lee, then these lads are all veterans of the wedding photography game, which is why I hire them.
I have to pay them more of course, but my intention is to provide the client with the best service and the best photographs. There is exactly zero point in sending a newbie to photograph the groom prep whilst I am with the bride. I want images that sit seamlessly alongside mine so when you see the final product and view it as a complete narrative, there shouldn’t be a difference in quality. Maybe slight variations in style, but that’s it.
Because of this, I often end up entirely jealous of some of the images the people I work with take. I edit their pictures too to keep the final product consistent, whilst scrolling through I always find myself admiring their work and saying to myself ‘I wish I’d taken that’.
The whole point of having two photographers is so the second can capture moments whilst the primary is physically in a different place documenting another moment. It’s a team game. I work with these people because I trust them to deliver, and they always do. This often results in me delivering around 1500 images and the percentage split being around 70/30.
As the paying client, it is worth considering what the above poster has said.
How would you feel if you knew that the second photographer you had paid for was a new starter?
If you’ve hired a husband and wife team, or a company who actively advertises themselves as a pair, then you’re golden, consistency across their website and social media platforms should illustrate the level of quality to expect from both wedding photographers.
For me, in all endeavours, everything hinges on trust. If you trust who you’ve hired, then you trust their judgement in who they will hire to shoot with them on the day.
As the client, you should know these key facts about second photographers.
Top level photographers will very often be booked to shoot their own weddings on key dates and therefore won’t be available to second shoot.
In this case, there is no choice but to hire those who are maybe slightly earlier on in their careers. This is true across the industry, in my business however, I wouldn’t work with anyone I couldn’t trust to deliver quality wedding photographs.
When you book your wedding photography package and are hiring a second wedding photographer, it’s worth asking if the second photographer is a regular.
Because we (by ‘we’ collectively in the industry) want to work with the best photographers available, it’s not uncommon to wait until the wedding date is drawing near before confirming who the second photographer will be. As mentioned, top photographers will hold out for their own clients before committing to a second role.
When you meet your wedding photographer, don’t be surprised if they can’t confirm at that exact time who the other photographer on the day will be. It is worth enquiring however, if you can see a wedding which two photographers have shot, this will give you an indication of what to expect from whoever is hired in to help, as of course, it won’t be the primary photographer shooting everything.
Getting married in a church? Read this.
Wedding photography. The clue is in the name – wedding.
You would assume then that every wedding that I photograph includes pictures of the actual wedding part, the bit where you get married.
Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case…
Vicars, priests, celebrants, registrars. The wedding ceremony is their show and they can dictate the rules.
The vast majority are lovely, there are however some who like to make sure the photographer knows their place.
I have been told to stand at the back of the church and hide, I’ve also been told that if anyone hears my camera go off during the ceremony or if I move, then the wedding will be stopped and I’ll be asked to leave.
These rules are fine and I have no problem obeying them
The problem is, no one ever tells the couple what the rules are and how they could ultimately effect the photographs.
It’s not uncommon for me to tell clients this when we meet (not forgetting at this stage they have booked the venue/church) and they then have to go back to the officiant and find out whether or not pictures are allowed to be taken during the ceremony.
When booking a wedding venue, you can’t assume that the answer will be yes. If the ceremony pictures is a deal breaker for you, then you have to know that sometimes wedding photographers are banned from taking pictures during the wedding ceremony.
There is a secondary issue here and that is where the rules conflict with my style of working.
Many officials will specify “you can take pictures during the giving of the rings and the kiss, that’s it” – the best moments never happen during these orchestrated moments. I’ve had to let amazing photographs go for fear of being ejected form the premises.
Ultimately, you as the couple are the ones who lose out. It breaks my heart to see a moment go by that I can’t capture, but they’re your memories that I’m not allowed to capture.
Check before booking what the rules are of the establishment, get written confirmation if you have to.
Now then, officials also have my sympathy.
Before digital photography there were film cameras. Typically, these things sounded like a barn door closing every time you would take a picture. Film technology got nowhere near digital in terms of the ability to shoot in low light, therefore you needed flash.
Imagine an entire generation of photographers clinking, clunking and flashing during the wedding ceremony and you can see why they might start to get pissed off at us as a collective for creating distractions.
Digital technology hasn’t done much to improve relations.
Whilst we can now shoot silently in near darkness, the problem now is the technology has created potential. Where once shots were impossible in the darkest churches, now they’re no problem. You can move and shoot, get high, get low etc.
This creates a problem, because once you can do something, it then encourages people to try it. This is where I would imagine the conflict occurs. If you’ve been to a wedding this year as a guest, you may have seen this part in action.
I’ve been a guest at three weddings this season and have seen photographers try and get in the pulpit to take pictures, put the camera underneath the hands as rings are exchanged (consider for a second how close you would have to be to do that) and walk across the presbytery/chancel area with no regard for the area in which they are stood.
Wedding photographers travel all over the UK and Europe, the chances of you working at the same church in the same year is much slimmer than it would have been previously. This makes it easier to rationalise bad behaviour, and by that i mean taking pictures when you’re not allowed to.
Rationalising it with ‘I’ll never see this vicar again, so what’s the problem?’ – the problem arises when the next photographer arrives the following Saturday. By that time the officiant is so pissed that they clamp down and completely ban pictures during the ceremony.
Ultimately everyone loses. The ceremony is one of the most emotionally charged parts of the day, emotions reach never before experienced heights, the pictures can be amazing.
Couples – check that pictures can be taken and also ask where the photographer is allowed to stand.
Photographers – don’t be an arse, think of the next person.
Having photographed well over 100 weddings I’ve pretty much seen it all. Biblical storms, bad-ass dance moves, the vicar getting the sermon oh so horribly wrong. With this experience comes a great deal of opportunity for learning to make your wedding day as efficient as possible.
I’m a big believer that your day is exactly that, your day – not for me or anyone to interfere with. It is however incredibly useful when you’ve never planned a wedding or big event before to gather as much info as you can from suppliers in the know.
There is exactly zero chance that you will be able to think of all possible scenarios, which is why it’s a great idea to tap into the collective knowledge of all of your suppliers. Each will have extensive knowledge of weddings and can each offer tips on how to make your day as smooth as possible.
Here’s what I’ve seen over the years that can really help make the whole day a breeze, so hopefully it will help you out.
At Liam Smith Photography, I document moments, I photograph what is happening in front of me, it’s bottling the magic of pure chance. That being said, if I can apply my prior experience and my knowledge of photography in order to create a potentially better moment due to planning rather than interfering, that would be advantageous.
I could argue against myself and say that any instruction I give would be a technical interference and go against the purist mantra, but we can take it too far can’t we.
This article is intended to give you practical tips to ultimately give you a superior product and a bloody awesome wedding day.
If you came to the end of your wedding and found out that an element of it could have been improved but no-one told you, you’d have some choice words for those individuals. It is my job, therefore, to aid you on your journey to fantastic photographs.
Here’s my top tips for getting the most out of your wedding photographs, streamlining your wedding and saving time on the day.
Top Tip One – speech photographs
Consider the height of your flowers and clear the tables
This is a zinger and there’s a good reason it’s my opener. This can aid the atmosphere in the room and will definitely improve the pictures and experience of the speeches.
Consider the height of your flowers.
If you sit down in front of them, what can you see, or more importantly what can’t you see? If your tables are round and you have a huge centre piece, you won’t be able to see and therefore interact with at least two of the people on the opposite side of the table. When the speeches start, will they be able to see past the flowers or are they blocking their view?
This is incredibly important across the top table, if your flowers are at an awkward height they will block your face. One, the guests can’t see you and two, the photographer (me :) ) can’t see you either.
Clear the tables of wine bottles.
This again is about height, wine bottles are at the perfect height to intersect the line of a persons face. Speeches are a great opportunity to capture fantastic pictures of multiple people at once. Everyone is sat in a line, shooting down that line allows me to use the speaker as a foreground reference and then focus on the reactions from the guests.
Here’s a real world example so you can see that I’m not being ridiculous.
I felt compelled to write this blog post based upon the experience at this wedding. I asked the head of the catering team to move the wine bottles to one side for the speeches and they said no. That’s up to them, I still think it’s poor form when we’re all on ‘team wedding’, but whaddayagonnado?
We can clearly see that the flowers and wine bottle are blocking parts of the face.
“Hey Liam, why don’t you just move?”
I do shoot multiple angles, but for this shot in particular to work, I need to be close. I also need to be low down so I’m not blocking the guests view.
Tricks of the trade
Shooting with a longer lens at larger aperture will compress perspective and lessen the intrusion of the flowers etc.
Does it make my point redundant because a skilled practitioner can find a way to solve the problem? No, it doesn’t, because why wouldn’t you make recommendations that can make everyone’s life easier? My job is to get the best possible pictures for my clients, if I can put my knowledge to use to facilitate that then everybody wins.
As a comparison, here’s an image of speeches with low table flowers.
Top Tip Two – Ceremony
Are pictures allowed in the ceremony? – where to stand – why you should care.
I’ve met all kinds of wedding officiants. All faiths, creeds and methods. It’s been fascinating.
It is however entirely up to the person conducting the ceremony how it’s going to go down. I think the first look down the aisle pictures are some of the best. Take this young man for example.
Emotions are charged, it’s electric.
To be told on the wedding day that you can’t take pictures during the ceremony is a real bust, missing the emotions and facial expressions of the ceremony is such a shame, but we as bystanders have no comeback and have to do as we are told.
I make this point because I have had officiants change their mind on the day. They simply decide – Non!
I think that’s cruel because they are denying the couple memories. I appreciate that twenty years ago wedding photographers cameras sounded like a barn door and you needed the floodlights from a football ground to light the room, but things are very, very different.
Modern cameras are near enough silent, the brand new series of mirrorless cameras have no moving parts so are in fact absolutely silent. No distractions, no annoying clicking, just happiness all round.
Dear wedding officiants, our cameras are silent and can shoot in the dark, please let us take pictures during the ceremony…
I don’t see why this can’t be resolved so everyone wins. What is important to remember is that (in the UK at least) getting married is not free. If you wish to marry, you have to pay for the paperwork, admin and legal proceedings. This might only be a few hundred quid, but it is still a fee for a service and this makes you clients.
Technically being a paying client means that it’s not one way traffic. If silence is needed to preserve the sanctity of the moment, that’s a different choice and one that everyone should absolutely respect.
I raise this point because officiants rarely cite this as being the reason, they do not say ‘please respect the sanctity of the moment’ they say ‘I don’t want you to be a distraction’. If you want pictures of the ceremony, I don’t see why you couldn’t then enter into a conversation as civilised adults as to how to create in a scenario which pleases both parties.
I don’t want to push an agenda, I simply hate the idea of missing out on quality photographs and treasured memories because of an outdated idea of how photographers work.
Top Tip Three – Confetti – exit the building – then hide!
The most efficient plan for confetti ever.
When you exit the church/venue the wedding party will typically be right behind you. You turn around upon exiting the building and then everyone will hug, kiss and congratulate. Beautiful.
Next there is a decision to be made.
If you stay in the same position, every guest will then congratulate you as they exit and it can turn into a sort of receiving line. Not a problem, just something to be aware of.
The single most efficient way to allow everyone to exit the building and to get everyone in two lines ready for confetti is if you hide. When you are out of sight, everyone pays attention. If they can see you, they will gravitate towards you.
Efficiency is key in wedding planning. If you are happy for everyone to come out and say hi straight away, that’s totally cool. It’s worth bearing in mind that a wedding of 150 guests can take twenty minutes for everyone to come out and congratulate you. Whilst one doesn’t wish to impact upon the natural expressions of happiness that guests want to display, there is a timeline to stick to.
Once you’re hidden, guests can be given confetti and manoeuvred into position free from distraction. You can then re-appear at the top of the line, ready to walk down it with a blast of colour. Bosh!
Confetti tip two – leave all the confetti by the door.
Having all of the confetti right by the exit means that as soon as the bridal party walk back up the aisle, they can grab is and be ready to hand it out as everyone else exits the church. Simple and effective.
Confetti tip three – hand out drinks after the confetti is done.
I’ve seen people throw champagne by mistake. Not like hurling the glass at the couple, but like a dramatic movie scene where someone throws water in the other persons face. It’s incredibly rare, but why risk it?
Top Tip Four Bridesmaids flowers – considerations
Do they make up part of the decorations?
Are they needed for photographs?
It’s not uncommon for the bridesmaids flowers to be used as either centre pieces, decorations along the top table or to be placed around the cake for added decoration.
What does sometimes happen is the bridesmaids will put them down and then forget about them. If you would like them in the group photographs then remind them to keep hold of them.
This is really useful for when the group photographs start. You would be amazed how often group pictures are held up because flowers have been left in a locked room, in the toilet or simply at the wedding breakfast table.
Top Tip Five – Group photographs – make a list, go big to small and assign an usher
Group photographs will run away from you time wise if you don’t have a plan. There’s no reason why you can’t shoot the entire list in twenty minutes. Granted this is also dictated by the number you have to get through (which is why I suggest no more than ten).
The easiest way to manage group photographs is to start with the biggest groups and reduce the numbers. By shooting the largest group first you have everyone’s ear and they will be paying attention. Thus, we can take the picture then immediate address the crowd and tell them who is needed next but also for the rest of the guests not to wonder too far in case they are needed.
Assign an usher – this can save buckets of time. If you have an usher or similar who knows both sides of the family and friends then they can round up the next photograph whilst the photographer is taking the current one. Ushers are told they are ushers, and are of course honoured to be a part of the bridal party, but beyond that they rarely seem to know what they jobs are. Tell the before they are in charge of rounding up.
A top tip for the gents – don’t have anything in your pockets – they can warp the shape of your suit so it doesn’t sit properly and can also look weird in your trousers.
Group pictures are easiest when no one else is around. With smaller groups of people comes less chatting, fewer distractions and increased efficiency! If group photographs are to be taken at the church it’s easiest to send all the guests on to the reception and keep those needed behind.
A question you will absolutely be asked is do you want drinks in the photos? Decide before the day, tell me and I’ll make sure everyone knows.
Top Tip Six – cutting of cake – middle of dance floor (if possible) ((if you want to do it of course…))
The DJ has a microphone – brilliant. He/She (2018) can address the entire room and tell everyone that the cutting of the cake is imminent. If the cake is in the middle of the dance floor, then everyone will be in the exact right place for the first dance. They can also gather around the couple to make it feel more intimate, and ultimately get better wedding photographs
This comment has to be tempered by the reality that the cake will have to be moved. It often sits in the corner of the room and when it’s cut, only a small number of people can get a good view. In the middle of the dance floor means everyone can see the event. Make sure the caterers are happy to move it, you don’t want groomsmen after a few beers having a crack at it. Get the pros in.
Weddings are a collaboration…
Weddings rely on a lot of people, each with their own unique experience of events.
Tap into the knowledge of every supplier you hire – use their experience and go through different scenarios of what they’ve seen play out to make sure you haven’t missed anything. Investing the time before the day can pay dividends and allow you to sail through, enjoying every moment.
Asian wedding photographer london
I bloody love Asian weddings, the dancing, the colour, the festivities. The whole day is full of emotion. The beauty of the work that I do and living in London is that you become exposed to all different cultures and ways of life. It’s amazing to see how so many different people celebrate the union of two people. What also makes it fascinating, is when two different cultures come together and celebrate traditions from two very different parts of the world. I was lucky enough to photograph a wedding in the highlands that celebrated all things traditionally Scottish, whilst honouring the brides Asian heritage and having a Chinese tea ceremony as well.
You might find my work differs from the usual and i’m not the typical Asian wedding photographer. Emotion drives my work. People are a constant source of inspiration. Working spontaneously in the moment is such a thrill, you never know what people are going to do next. Laughter, tears, dancing, singing, it can all happen in a matter of moments, that’s what I love to capture. There is a tremendous sense of community that one can experience at Asian weddings, everyone comes from far and wide to celebrate two peoples union. Everyone, and I mean everyone, is invited. Nothing is too much trouble and anything goes as long as it involves having a good time. It’s incredibly inclusive and open, Asian weddings recognise that it’s the chance for the community to celebrate, and I love that.
The dancing! Oh the dancing! I love this picture of a chap on his knees dancing to the rhythm whilst his mate slaps a twenty pound note on his head. Weddings, music and drink do the most wonderful things to people, the joy takes you to a new blissful place, where nothing really matters except for the beat of the drum.
I’ve been an Asian wedding photographer in London for approximately seven years and have been fortunate enough to have travelled all over this great city documenting peoples celebrations. I love how there is always an element of home life in an Asian wedding. No matter how grand the reception room is or how ornately decorated the ceremony room, we always start at home, paying respects to family. It’s a beautiful way to honour family and tradition but also to recognise where one comes from and what it took to get them where they are today, it must be quite a humbling experience. To see all of your closest family and friends, but also distant members of the community who have seen you grow come out and wish you well is a beautiful thing and something we could all learn from. To look out for and love each other, that’s the ideal.
Another element that I love about Asian wedding photography, is the contrast between eastern and western elements that make up the day. I love seeing bright colours against the Victorian landscape of London. The contrast between east, west, new and old creates a stunning spectacle. I’m yet to see an elephant ride to a church yet, but here’s to hoping! Whatever your background, creed or culture, a wedding is a time to celebrate, if you’re planning an Asian wedding in London and are in need of an Asian wedding photographer in London then send me a message via the contact form and we’ll get the ball rolling! I can’t wait to hear what you’ve got planned.
Stowe school is one of Buckinghamshire’s absolute gems.
Here’s a load of reasons why you should absolutely consider getting married at Stowe if you live in and around Milton Keynes, of if you simply want an entirely unique venue to get married.
Exclusivity and privacy
The wedding below was held at the temple of concord and victory in the grounds of Stowe. It’s a national trust park which means anyone wanting to visit has to pay to get in. You may have a few amblers, but during the whole day, I think we saw four. That’s because concord and victory is so far up one end of the park, no one ever walks that far, the grounds at Stowe are that expansive.
Only a hundred yards walk from the temple is a private car park only for your guests. There is a security barrier to pass through on the way to the event area which is manned all the time so there’s no worries about leaving vehicles in public car parks. Not on the list, not getting in!
The grounds are so huge that you need a golf buggy to navigate them for pictures. This also means that even if there is another wedding happening on the estate, you will one never hear them and two never see them. This really can’t be underestimated as I’ve seen estates where they have put two wedding parties in too close proximity. Of course everyone is convivial, but I think it detracts from the uniqueness of your wedding experience.
Stunning and unique photo locations
Stowe is full of unique locations for pictures. Dotted with interesting temples, statues, archways and bridges, the grounds have so much potential for awesome pictures that you could photograph thirty weddings in a year there and never come away with the same set of photographs. Not only are the architectural features really cool, but so are a lot of the trees – i’m being serious. I love trees, so much so that I donate part of your wedding fee to a tree planting charity. They weave and knot and bend and hug, all different varieties offering plenty of different backdrops and spaces to interact with.
Any outdoor catering you want
Because there is no kitchen in the temple, you can have whatever you want around it. These cool cats opted for a really cool tipi to have the wedding breakfast in and barbecued everything for the food. After dinner, an ice cream van rocks up to dish out all the sweet goodies, it gets your guests up off of their feet and ready to mingle. Then in the evening, a wood fired pizza van shows up to help soak up the free espresso martinis they’d been drinking all day.
I don’t think there is anywhere else in the area that offers you a unique place to get married that is set in amazing scenery, with entirely unique surroundings AND let’s you decorate, dress and cater the event however you want. If I was going to plan a second wedding (to my Jen again of course) Stowe would be top of my list.
Ah yes, flowers by the immensely talented and all kinds of lovely girls from Herbert & Isles, check them out for all your wedding floristry needs.