The ISPWP website has a great article about myths that many couples and families encounter regarding wedding photography, and breaks them down to help those planning a wedding to sort through the fiction and get to the fact.
The one I liked the best, since I have to explain it a LOT to my couples, is this:
MYTH: “It’s better to have two mediocre/inexpensive photographers than one excellent/expensive photographer”
If you’re thinking of hiring multiple photographers for the sole reason of getting lots of images and viewpoints, don’t forget that you shouldn’t skimp on quality. It’s more important for you to focus on the talent and portfolio of the photographer(s) you are considering rather than the number of photographers who will be at your wedding. Some photographers prefer to work alone and create wonderful images, while some studios prefer to work in pairs. Both approaches can be successful. The number of photographers at the wedding doesn’t matter as much as whether the photographer(s) you hire can deliver the types of images you want.
Dennis Drenner of Dennis Drenner Photographs in Baltimore Maryland says: “A lot of brides these days are looking for a second shooter, believing that two photographers are better than one and less likely to miss crucial moments. My response to that is talent and experience (quality) are more important than focusing solely on quantity. When you go in for a double bypass, would you rather have two medical students working on you, or one experienced surgeon?” For the most part, you get what you pay for in wedding photographers. That said, there are cases where two photographers come in handy. In Orthodox Jewish weddings, for example, important events happen in separate male and female sections at exactly the same time. The bottom line is to focus on your photographer’s talent. If he has a nice portfolio, it is in part because he knows where to be and when. That is, after all, half the battle.”
Since I used to be a photojournalist and am used to photographing in high-pressure situations where I do not get a do-over, I typically work alone as the only photographer at a wedding, but do offer collections that include a second photographer if it is needed. As a result, I get asked the question about second shooters an awful lot. People think they will be slighted with only one photographer. My response is to consider the quality of those photographers. Is the second photographer a pro, or simply an assistant with a camera as an afterthought? How long have each of the photographers been photographing weddings? Will you get to see examples of each photographer's specific work? Do they both know how to shoot with their cameras in manual mode (this is HUGE - if a photographer doesn't know his or her tools well enough to do this, they are not professionals)? Do they know how to stay out of each others' way throughout the day so you don't see them in the crossfire?
At bridal shows and for individual consultations, every single image in my booth was photographed by me alone. I have albums of whole weddings from start to finish where I am the only photographer. Prospective clients will not find any gaps in coverage, because I am very thorough. On the rare occasions that I need a second photographer, I make sure my seconds are highly qualified professionals who are quite capable without my constant supervision. After all, I need to be concentrating on my couples and making the best possible images for them, not on the other photographer!
Thank you to ISPWP for tackling these questions, which will undoubtedly make it easier for couples to sort through the myths when they are searching for their perfect wedding photographer.