As you parcel your wedding budget among your vendors, you may be wondering how many photographers you really need. Many studios offer wedding packages that come with two, three, or even four photographers to cover the events of the day. While no one can tell you exactly what number of photographers is right for you, there are some helpful factors to consider.
The Case for Multiple Photographers
You're leaning in for the first kiss and the photographer's camera jams. There isn't enough time for him to put it down, rummage in his case for the next camera, and get it up to his eye. At moments like these, you'll be thankful there's a second photographer fluidly stepping in to catch the once-in-a-lifetime shot.
Some wedding receptions are planned like three-ring circuses, with guests milling around the dessert table in one room, a DJ filling a dance floor in another room, and a smoking area out in the garden. Unless you're hiring a superhero who can exist in multiple places at once, hiring multiple wedding photographers is the only way you're going to catch all the action.
Multiple photographers are worth their weight in gold before the wedding ceremony, when the bride and groom are getting ready in their separate locations. This is especially true if the bride is getting her makeup ready at a spa and the groom is putting on his tuxedo in a house across town. Assigning a photographer to follow each of them will ensure that you catch the excitement of the wedding preparation on both sides. If the photographers travel to the wedding with each member of the couple separately, they will not only catch some great shots along the way, but they will each be able to capture the "first look" photo from a different point of view.
Does your venue have two (or more) perfect photo-op locations? If there's a balcony, for example, you may want to station a photographer there while another captures your wedding ceremony from eye level. While one photographer can certainly run back and forth between locations, it will be less disruptive to your guests if you can keep one person in each place. Plus, when you're looking over the photos later, you will have your choice of perspectives for every significant moment.
The Case for a Single Photographer
If you're trying to capture your wedding as the day unfolds, catching each emotion and moment in true-to-life detail, it can ruin the mood to have photographers swarming among the guests and interrupting every conversation with a raised camera. A photojournalistic, or "fly on the wall" style is best captured with a single, unobtrusive photographer. Guests can become self-conscious when they're aware they're being watched. A whole herd of photographers can seem like an invasion of privacy. You may get a larger quantity of photographs from a photography team, but the quality of the photographs will be diminished. For photographing intimate moments and true emotions, only one photographer will do.
If your wedding is small- to medium-sized (with under 150 guests), or if your venue consists of one main area, you probably don’t need the added expense of an additional wedding photographer. A photographer acting alone can slip among groups of guests, catching a few shots here and there without overstaying his welcome in any one place.
Two photographers can potentially get in each other's way. Do you really want two camera angles of your wedding vows, only to end up with a worried-looking photographer in each one? Using a single photographer ensures that every shot will capture your wedding, and only your wedding. Two photographers can also accidentally cover the same ground. You'll end up with duplicate shots of every flower arrangement, and you'll pay twice as much for the privilege.
You may be leaning away from hiring a single photographer because you feel like you can get a better deal in bulk. However, stay wary of multi-photographer packages with "too good to be true" prices. The catch here is usually that two photographers are necessary because neither one is experienced enough to capture the wedding alone. It's usually worth it to spring for one talented professional–choose quality, not quantity.
One talented photographer is worth a dozen amateur ones. Don't fall for "multiple photographers" packages that actually only give you one professional. The rest of the people who come to your wedding may be assistants or interns who can get in the way. Just hire one professional photographer. If you want to use your wedding as a training ground, you may end up with some unexpectedly great shots–but you shouldn’t have to pay for extra amateurs. The advantage you're giving to their portfolio is payment enough.
Make Your Decision Wisely
You only get one chance to capture your day, so choose wisely. Ultimately, the number of photographers doesn't matter as much as the quality of photographers you're choosing. Always work with people whom you trust in a professional as well as in a "gut feeling" way. After all, you're inviting these people to share your most intimate moments, so it's important to have a good rapport. Take time to meet with potential photographers beforehand, and be sure to ask their opinions on the perfect number of people for the job. When you balance the concerns of your budget with the number and type of photographs you want to see, the right decision should become clear to you.