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        There are a few different terms to describe the job and position your photographers will take during your wedding day. Each one comes with its own rules and etiquettes! There is a Primary, a Second, and an Associate Photographer, have you ever had these mentioned to you before? Well, here’s a breakdown of what they mean!

        The Primary Photographer

        You hired the primary to photograph your wedding! Simple enough. You will have 100% of your communication with the primary photographer. She, or he (but I’ll say she for the rest of this article), will edit your images and send them your way after they’re complete. You paid her directly. Your primary will still be your primary even with a second and/or associate in the mix.

        The Primary Recap:

        • Hired by you to photograph the wedding day
        • Paid directly by you
        • Edits and delivers your images
        • 100% of your communication is with them

        What is a Second Photographer?

        The primary hires the second shooter, or second photographer. So, you either directly requested that you wanted this person, or they were included in the package you chose. This person is usually added when the wedding is larger. The second is an assistant to the primary photographer during the wedding day.

        For instance, they help get more photo coverage throughout the day via different angles and spaces. For example, the second might go and photograph the groom and groomsmen getting ready while the primary photographs the bride and bridesmaids. Or, the second will stand in the back of the aisle when the bride walks down while the first stands up in front to capture the groom’s reaction as well as the bride’s. They help the day go a lot smoother by providing a second set of eyes via coverage.

        The second works under the primary photographer’s brand. They do not advertise their own business nor hand out business cards. They are there to represent the primary photographer.

        After the wedding day, the second photographer gives the primary all the RAW images. This is where the second’s duties end! The primary then chooses, edits, and sends you the photographs from this set as part of your full wedding gallery!

        The second photographer, depending on the primary’s contract with her, can edit the images herself, share them via social media and add them to her portfolio. Though she should not tag you in those photos. And you, as the bride and groom, will not receive those images from the second photographer and should not reach out to her to do so. The images were sent to the primary, and she chose which she deemed best to include in your gallery, you will receive your images directly from the primary.

        The Second Recap:

        • Hired by Primary to join her and help get more coverage of the day
        • Is not paid to edit the images, but is usually able to edit and post to portfolio/social media without tagging bride/groom
        • Will not directly send you the images she took (edited or otherwise)
        • You should not ask for those images after the wedding day (her work is complete when she sends those photos to the Primary)

        What is an Associate Photographer?

        If an emergency happens with your primary photographer and they, for whatever reason, are unable to make it to your wedding day, will hire an associate photographer. The associate will photograph the wedding day as if it were her own. Your main source of communication regarding images, pricing, timeline, etc, will remain with your primary.

        The associate is a well qualified photographer and individual that will cover your day in place of your primary. They are working under your primary photographer’s brand, not advertising their own. They are there to represent your primary in a professional manner.

        After the wedding day, the associate will deliver the RAW images to the primary photographer. The primary will still be the person to edit your images and send them to you. After the wedding, your main source of communication will remain with your primary.

        Again, depending on their contract (the primary and associate), the associate is usually allowed to edit, share, and add the images she took during the day to her portfolio without tagging you. And, you should not reach out to this person to get said images. When all the images the associate photographer took are sent to primary, the primary will choose what she thinks is best to edit and add to your gallery! This is where the associate’s duties end!

        The Associate Recap:

        • Hired by the Primary to take her role during the wedding day
        • Is not paid to edit the images, but is usually able to edit and post to portfolio/social media without tagging bride/groom
        • Will not directly send you the images she took (edited or otherwise)
        • You should not ask for those images after the wedding day (her work is complete when she sends those photos to the Primary)

        Questions You May Have and Answers I Can Offer

        Q. Why can’t I reach out to the second or associate photographers for the wedding photos they took?

        A. So, the simple answer is that they did not get paid to edit the images and send them to you. They weren’t hired directly by you to do that. Even if they edit the photos and post them to social media, they did not get paid for the hours they put to work on them. Their duties for the day include photographing the day and giving those images to the primary. Their job is complete when they send over the photos. You only hired one photographer, and she will take care of the images you receive in the best possible way to fit your needs. Remember, you hired her because you love her work, trust her!

        Q. What type of circumstances could lead my primary to need an associate, and miss my wedding day?

        A. Some circumstances that life bring are unforeseeable. A few reasons your primary may need an associate could include but are not limited to; a death in the family, a massive injury (broken leg?), or a family emergency. Even with these circumstances, the primary should ensure you receive someone just as good, if not better, to photograph your wedding day! And, she will ensure you still receive her style of images by editing them herself.

        Q. Is it possible to get an associate and a second to photograph my day?

        A. Yes! Your primary can hire both an associate and a second to cover the day while she is unable to be there. This is something you can discuss with her directly!

        Q. What is a RAW image?

        A. RAW is a type of large file format that photographers use to photograph in. Just like jPEG is a format, it’s just more compressed than RAW. The RAW images are also unedited images, they are straight out of the camera. Most photographers, like me, do not offer RAW images in their packages and state that in their contracts. The couple only receive the best of the best of the day, edited and fixed for crop, color, lighting, etc.

        To find more bride and wedding information that I’ve written out for you, check out my Blog For Brides and sign-up for my monthly bride newsletter!!