I often get asked about Wedding Photography Group Photos – so I thought I’d write a little post discussing group photos & how they fit into my wedding photography.
The majority of my style & the way I work on a wedding day, is relaxed, informal and involves me blending into the background, allowing events to unfold naturally & without direction. However I often get asked about the more formal parts of the day, such as group photos! I thought I’d write a little post about how I tackle group photographs and how I work in a relaxed, light and efficient manner, so as to minimize their impact on the flow of your day.
Group shots are important, there’s no two way’s about it – they are. It’s not often you have all of your family in one place at the same time, all looking wonderful & happy. In recent years the focus of wedding photography has moved away from group shots and into photojournalism, the documentary style of photography, & rightly so – it’s a lot more honest to the emotions of the day & considerably more fun than standing in a line for countless hours doing a plethora of variations of the same stiff, formal groups!
But in the past 12 years (& hundreds of weddings!) I have only encountered a handful of couples who absolutely didn’t want any group shots – (and that’s totally fine!), but the vast majority of my clients want, at least some – & it’s part of my job to ensure they fit into the day as efficiently and easily as possible.
I suggest my clients provide me with a list of around 8-10 groups.
I find 8-10 groups can easily be done during the drinks reception & should take no more than 20-30 minutes. Some couples also like to suggest a handful of additional groups that we can pull together throughout the day if time permits – I’m not averse to doing a quick 30 second, 3-4 person group shot in the middle of the dance floor if needs be ;) But by spreading them throughout the day we can minimize the impact on both your schedule & your patience!
Another thing to have a think about, is which group shots are truly important to you, it’s very easy to say ‘we need one with Aunt Mary, then another with Aunt Mary & Great Aunt sally, then another with Mary, Sally & all the ladies from the church, then another.. ‘ but factoring in that each of these shots will take around 5-10 minutes to pull together, (longer if Sally’s at the bar!) so you have to consider if you are so keen on these photos that you’d like them to take up half an hour of your one and a half hour drinks reception? I’m happy either way, but its something to think about given the limited time.
Another great thing to help speed up the group shots is to provide me with a guide or two – people who know both sides of the families, it could be someone from the wedding party for example, whose job it is to help gather the required people and fetch any stragglers hiding at the bar.
With regards locations, I’ll always scout out some possible areas that would work – often early on the day of the wedding, so that we know what the weather is like & can pick somewhere appropriate. Whilst it may be beautiful, It’s not ideal to pick a location atop a hillside a few weeks in advance, only to find that on the day it’s pouring with rain & going to make for some very unhappy guests!
Often I’ll find somewhere near to the drinks reception location, so that we’re not taking guests too far away from the party! – This in turn can make quite a feature of the group photos, as other guests can take their own photos etc.
For smaller group shots, for example those with your bridesmaids, groomsmen etc. we might choose to do these a little farther afield, as taking a handful of your closest friends away for 5 minutes to a beautiful location, is far easier, logistically, than transporting 100 of your nearest and dearest – And makes for some gorgeous photos too! At a recent wedding we in Suffolk we took the Bride, Groom and Bridesmaids into a goreous forest and created some truly stunning photos.
Some people choose to have a big group shot of everyone, & for this I often suggest one of two options – either somewhere I can get elevation, for example a window or balcony – allowing me to shoot down at the crowd below. Alternatively somewhere I can place guests with a variety of elevations, stairs for example, allowing me to be sure of capturing everyone’s faces!
Sometimes the group shots can also lead onto more fun ones, like this confetti shot, which followed straight on from Anne & Matt‘s big group photo.
I hope this article has proven helpful, but if you have any questions about wedding photography group photos, please don’t hesitate to contact me!