We’ve all been there, those painful Group Shots at Weddings. You turn up to a wedding where the only people you know are the bride and groom and they spend the entire day standing gormlessly in lines of people smiling falsely at a bossy photographer with a tripod. There are many photographers who see a wedding day as a 12 hour long photoshoot in which inconvenient moments occur, such as the ceremony and people wanting to actually want to speak to their guests.
This certainly won’t be the part of the day you will look forward to most. You probably won’t jump straight to the group shots when you get your photos returned. “Hey! Let’s look at the photos with us all standing in a row” said no one ever. But in 2 years, 5 years and definitely 10 years these photos will increase in value as people move on, move away and pass away and the 60th of a second you spent together on your wedding day will become so precious.
Below is a family group photo from our wedding. I was hating every moment of the hour our group photos took but hid it behind a false smile. I regret not enjoying that moment as the photo has 6 of our grand parents in it. Two years later we have lost 4 of them and are now down to two. What I would give for another photo with those missing grandparents . . .
There are so many ways you can take advantage of having all of your friends and family in one place at the same time without making it painful.
Planning is probably the most important element. Plan to spend some time for group photos alone and plan each photo in as much detail as you can in advance.
If you book me you’ll receive a questionnaire about your wedding day in advance and a part of this is planing the group shots. I leave room for 12 photos and will ask you to list everyone by name. Most people think this is a lot, although if you start with these seven photos;
B&G and B parents, siblings and grandparents
B&G and B parents and siblings
B&G and B parents
B&G and G parents, siblings and grandparents
B&G and G parents and siblings
B&G and G parents
B&G and G B&G parents
which at 3-4 minutes each can take 20-30 minutes. These don’t even include divorced parents, aunties, uncles, partners, friends and we haven’t taken into account the time it takes to get all these people together and stand properly. Often, if you allow guests to take photos, we’ll have to allow aunties and uncles with cameras to get their photos in too, like this;
Here are a few tips to help you make the group photos as painless as possible;
- Make a detailed list, naming everyone by name. ‘Cousins’ or ‘Aunties’ isn’t as clear as ‘Mike, Sue, Dave, Liz and Emily’ when your photographer is calling out names.
- Let your photographer take control of this segment of the day, just relax and go with the flow. Make it clear from the start what you hope these photos to be like and agree in advance if you want guests holding drinks, handbags and if you want to allow ‘paparazzi guests’.
- Delegate out some help and support for your photographer at this time. Any primary school teacher friends? They’ll be perfect! Give them a second copy of the list of names and get them getting the next photo gathered whilst your photographer is arranging and photographing the current group.
- Plan this time into the day and be liberal with the timings. Allow 5 minutes per photo to take some stress off the photographer. If it’s done quicker then everyone’s a winner.
- Split the group shots up into different times of the day. Maybe photograph the boys together outside the ceremony venue at the start of the day and the bride and bridesmaids as they arrive. Family are the most formal photos, so do them early whilst people are still sober and are still fully dressed. Maybe leave friends for more informal photos later in the day or early evening.
Owen Mathias is a south Wales based wedding photographer who loves alternative, fun, creative and modern weddings for couples who value photography and are looking for something of quality and a little different in Cardiff, Bristol, Cheltenham, London, Surrey, Wiltshire and across the UK.