06 Mar Tips to take great group photographs at a wedding
The importance of ‘The Family’ group picture.
I have talked about how I don’t really like to take staged pictures that often in a wedding day. Well, as with everything there is one exception to this rule – the family pictures.
Yes I know that often this part fills some people with dread and these shots have got a bad reputation for being long and boring, but they really don’t need to be and I just wanted to write about how I approach them and how we can all make them pain-free, and dare I say it, even fun.
We have all been there…spending hours trying to rally your family around (dragging kids away from the TV or grandma out of the loo) and making them stand still, smile and pretend they are part of the Brady bunch. BUT I can’t stress enough how precious these moments are. They are such an important part of the day, which you can’t repeat and I can’t guarantee you a picture of every family member together if we don’t set it up.
I am not trying to create anything epic by dragging everyone, including Granny Doris, up a mountain for the sunset. What I am trying to achieve is simply a nice picture with everyone in a group smiling. Sounds simple but actually has its difficulties so here are some tips to take great group photographs at a wedding I have learnt along the way:
1 Pre-planning: I will give you a list of suggested group shots before hand and you can tick which ones you would like. It is impossible to expect you to make these requests on the day as you have enough to think about.
2. Amount: Now here’s a biggie – how many pictures? I normally recommend no more than 5 pictures. They take 3-5 minutes each so you can do the maths and work out how long you want to spend standing still and smiling. You don’t want to be there for hours after all. Your smile will definitely fade and I don’t know about you but I will most certainly get a little bored. This does not mean I won’t do more, obviously just ask, but I have found that 5-7 tends to include all the important people no matter what your family set up looks like.
3. Allocated wing person: Before the day I always request that my clients allocate a person (or even two people) to help me round everyone up at the wedding. This person needs to be loud, a tiny bit bossy and know nearly everyone there. It means that I won’t be photographing the wrong person in the wrong group and I don’t lose my voice shouting.
4. Preparation is key: On this same note I find it so much easier if whilst I am photographing one group, the next is already being gathered in the wings, so to speak. This makes the whole process quick as I am not spending anytime running around or waiting for people.
5. Timings: It is often really well suited for these particular pictures to be taken straight after the ceremony or at the beginning of the drinks reception. Obviously this is weather dependent but it is nice to know that the family pictures are done and you don’t have to worry about hunting down people in the loo or at the bar, and of course it is nice to capture everyone before the shirt buttons get loosened and kids start knee sliding on the floor.
6. Location: I will have already spent time searching out a good location for these pictures. I am normally just looking for either an uncluttered background or something interesting. I do find that again it is slightly weather dependent. If the sun is blazing down then I will be taking you to some shade. It may seem strange and I normally get a few comments about how the sun is perfect for photography but trust me, full sun is not flattering for anyone.
7. Big group shot: If you have decided to have the big group shot (which is absolutely fine) just remember that I will need a high vantage point and they take about 10 minutes to set up.
I have recently been updating my website and realised that I have not included any family group pictures on there so I thought I would post a few examples from some recent weddings here for you to see.
Honestly the family group pictures can be fun and relaxed and I love thinking that it is these pictures especially that our great great grand kids will love looking back on laughing at our outfits and hair styles. Things do and will happen on the day and as I have said many times before sometimes the only way is to just go with the flow but hopefully with these few tips this part will run like a dream.