I regularly get asked about Wedding Photography Group Photographs – so here is a post discussing how group photos fit into the day and my approach.
The way I work for the large majority of the wedding day is informal and relaxed, which allows me to blend into the background, and in turn, allowing moments to naturally happen and without direction to minimise any distraction from your day. However I often get asked about the more formal side of the day, such as group shots or group photos.
Group photos are important without a doubt. It’s not often so many family members are gathered in one place at the same time and all looking wonderful and happy. Over the course of recent years wedding photography has shifted away from group shots and heavily directed/posed imagery. It is now much more about a documentary style or photojournalism and thankfully so – it’s a lot more true to the events and emotions of the day and a heck of a lot more fun that standing around or in a line for countless hours doing a range of the same stiff formal groups.
With that said, in the past fifteen years, and hundreds of weddings later, I have only had a handful of couples who were adamant that they did not want any group shots. It is part of my job as a wedding photographer to ensure that they blend into the day as easily and efficiently as possible. I suggest to my couples that they provide me with a list , ideally before the day, of around ten different groups. I find that ten groups can be easily achieved during the drinks reception and should take around 30 minutes. Some couples like to suggest a handful of additional groups that we can pull together during the course of the day, if time permits, for a quick 30-second 3-4 person group. That way we can minimise the disruption to your schedule.
Something else to consider is which group photos are the most important to you. Each group shot on average takes around five minutes to pull together and shoot, longer if a guest is at the bar, checking into their room or changing the baby. So it is up to you if you are happy for you more than thirty mins of your reception time to be taken up with photographs. I am happy either way but it is something to consider given the limited time of the day.
A great way to help speed up the pace of the group shots is to provide me with a one or two people that know both sides of the families and is familiar with people on your group shot list. They can then help gather the required guests and family and fetch any stragglers at the bar.
When it come to the location of shots I will always recce some possible areas that would work. I usually do this early on in the day, so we know what the weather is like, and pick somewhere that is suitable. It is not ideal to pick somewhere a few weeks prior to the day and then to find that it is pouring with rain or blowing a gale which will make for some very unhappy guests. Normally I find somewhere near to where the drinks reception is taking place we do not have to lead people very far away from the party.
For smaller groups, for example those with your bridesmaids, groomsmen etc. we could consider doing these further away as it only a handful of your closest friends. This is far easier than trying to organise large groups to a separate location and certainly less time consuming.
If you would like a large group shot of everyone then I would recommend a couple of options. The first is somewhere I can get elevation, such as a window or balcony, allowing me to shoot downwards into the crowd. Alternatively, somewhere I can place the guests with an elevation, for example stairs that allow me to stagger the guests ensuring I can capture everyone’s faces.
Sometimes a large group can lead in to a fun shot such as this confetti shot.
I hope you found this informative and it gives you some food for thought on the group shots. If you should have any further thoughts or questions then please do not hesitate to contact me.