When I started photographing weddings here in the Riviera Maya Mexico, I started doing something a little radical: I started photographing them alone. Most of them had only 20-30 guests. I didn’t know any other good photographers I could trust to be my second photographer and I was confident that I could do it alone. And, I was right.
In Canada I would never have considered shooting solo: the guys generally get ready a car drive from where the girls are; the number of guests is far higher; I needed someone to hold reflectors as the light there is totally different than here; the weddings were 8-12 hours long and to be honest, no one can be 100% on top of their game for 8-12 hours and at times I would need to let my assistant take the lead for some downtime. Here is it is completely different: everyone gets ready on the same property; the weddings generally have fewer guests; the weddings are far shorter (the average day being 4-5 hours); and the light here is amazing so I do not need reflectors or off-camera lights to get the work you see on my website, so for most couples, hiring a second photographer is simply an unnecessary extra expense.
1) When getting-ready images are really important to you.
When I shoot alone, I go to the guys first photograph them getting ready. This generally leaves them ready about 20-30- minutes early so they end up heading down to a bar for a drink and then to the ceremony location to make sure everything is set up correctly and welcome guests to the location. However, if getting-ready images are very important to you and you want to have large image collections of both sets of the bridal party getting ready, then having two photographers is preferable to one.
2) When you want images of the ceremony and reception setups.
Generally, I am photographing the girls right before the ceremony and do not have time to run down and take detail images of the ceremony location before any guests arrive. If it is important that you have this photographed before anyone arrives I suggest two photographers.
Similarly, this happens at the reception location. Generally, I am photographing the couple on the beach just before the reception and then we all head to the reception location together. If your dream is to have your reception location photographed with no people in it, then once again, two photographers are better than one.
Now, if I may step on my soapbox for a moment, this brings up one of my pet peeves with wedding photographers these days. I see so many of them photographing the wedding rather than the couple and their guests. Wedding blogs and magazines generally want images of details and décor and not much of the couple and their guests enjoying themselves. This drives me crazy as I feel as you hire a photographer to capture you and your guests first and then capture your wedding second. And that’s the way I will photograph your wedding. You first and the details second. And if you have details that are important to you, tell me and I will ensure we get some great images of those details so you can remember them. And if details are very important to you and it is your dream to be on a blog or in a magazine, then tell us. We will shoot with two photographers and we will get amazing images that will end up somewhere as we have direct connections to Style me Pretty, iDo Magazine, WedLux, Grace Ormand, Real Weddings and many others.
3) When you have a lot of guests.
If you have a lot of guests (over 50) and/or you want a lot of candid images of the guests, then having two photographers can be better than one. It simply makes sense, there is no way one photographer can get as many candid images as two.
4) When you want more than one style.
Honestly, I have no idea why you would want this. I think a wedding should be photographed with consistency and hence why when I hire a second photographer I ask them to please do their best to mimic my style of photography. I tell them “Don’t shoot like you, shoot like me so that we have a consistent product.” The reason I believe this is important is that when you go to put your wedding album together having consistent images is going to look much more professional than having two different styles.
5) When you can only afford one great photographer for a small amount of time.
I saw and experienced this much more in the long weddings north of the border than here. People want a certain photographer but can only afford them to do the portraits. Therefore they hire that photographer for portraits and another one to do candid photojournalism through the day.
Down here, sometimes the couple use me from getting ready up to the first dance at the start of the reception (often 3-4 hours) and then hire someone else to do the end of the reception (aka. the resort photography company or a Photo Booth company). This makes sense to me if the reception photos are not that important to you and you simply want a few fun images of people dancing and having a good time. I would like to think I would do a much better job than them, but again, this comes down to finances and I would much rather have a couple hire a great photographer for the important parts than an average photographer for everything.
In conclusion, I believe hiring one or two photographers is a simple question of balancing finances with your desires. If the points I mention above are not that important to you, then I am confident you will be happy with one photographer. If the above points are really important to you then two might be the right decision. Either way, my team and I are here to support you and help you with that decision. You can hire just me, or we can add in a second photographer at an additional charge. What I do want to impress upon you is that most clients down here do not NEED two photographers. In my opinion, what you need is one very good photographer that you truly love and want to work with. The second photographer (for most couples) is truly a luxury and not a necessity. And being a photography studio that prides itself on providing great value, we allow you to make the decision to hire the second photographer.
Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to email myself at email@example.com and I or Anna will be happy to make sure you are making the right decision for your needs.
Riviera Maya Wedding Photographer