What it Means to Have Relaxed Looking Group Photographs at Your Wedding
What I have found from wedding photography is that one of the most underestimated, but I think vitally important part of the day is sometimes over looked. The group pictures. I always make time for group photographs as I think that these images are some of the most significant ones that a wedding photographer can capture for you on your day. Don’t get me wrong I am all about reportage photography, I love capturing the natural in-between moments where your mum tears up at your speech or how the flower girls pull faces at each other over dinner; but sometimes you need a formal photograph, lets face it. These are the ones that you’ll show your grandkids one day or put in a frame up on your proud mum’s mantle piece.
We’ve all been there at a wedding with a photographer shouting orders at you whilst all you just want to do is stuff your face with canapés. I get it. I've been there sister. Getting into group shots can be rushed, laborious and a down right pain to do in a certain turn around time of a reception.
However, 1.] I don’t shout and 2.] I’ll let you in to a secret. If you want relaxed looking group photographs, you’ve got to plan for them. There is no way that hiring one wedding photographer to take group shots, room details, candid guest pictures and couples portraits in an hour of reception time is going to be anything other than stressful.
The most frequently asked things I get from my wedding couples are “Can we have lots of natural looking candid photographs of our guests” and “Can our group photographs looks relaxed and un-posed”? I love these questions because my bread and butter are natural looking candid shots. I'm passionate about them because I get to be in the action and surround myself with your wedding party. It's fun and you get lovely honest moments captured in camera; but you cannot achieve these scenes in 10 minutes.
So, planning for relaxed and natural looking photographs.
The golden rule is that you have got to leave enough time, especially if you only have one photographer. An hour and a half of reception time is great and if you had two hours, boy that seriously is the jack pot. This gives you enough time to talk to your guests, mingle, have a glass of bubbly, a canapé and breathe. It also gives your photographer time to get the necessary shots they need. It also allows your group photographs to be arranged in a calm and collected manner, with ushers and bridesmaids rounding up the people needed from your list.
The second thing you need to do is cap how many group shots you allow; the more group shots you have the more time it takes up of your reception. It is really as simple as that. This allows the groups to be easier to co-ordinate and means you can have more fun composing your set ups, if that is what you are up for. From working with other photographers and shooting my own weddings I find that up to 10 combinations work best when arranging people. Be specific with who is in them with your photographer before hand so that they are easy to find and so that you don’t leave anyone important out. The more groups you have, the more time you will spend setting them up and the less time you will have to eat canapés, so bear that in mind when planning your arrangements.
The third thing that you need to be able to do is trust your photographer. I won’t put you in any positions or places that you do not want to be photographed in. I will always search for a place where the light is right, so that you and your bridal party are not squinting in to the sunshine and creating horrible shadows. As a photographer I am not going to put you in an unflattering surroundings where you can see fire exit signs and unappealing décor. Likewise, I will not ask you to jump around or make fun if that is not the type of person you are. As a wedding photographer you can read a situation very easily and group photographs are organic and will emerge from the atmosphere at the wedding itself. I after all have your best interests at heart and want the photographs to be as beautiful as you do.
I will be there to capture the natural moments and the planned ones in-between, and hopefully these are just a couple of helpful tips that will allow you to plan your wedding reception to achieve calm and relaxed looking group photographs. But my biggest golden rule and one that you have to take notice of is, HAVE FUN! Smile and embrace it, as the day will be gone in a flash, with the safe knowledge that you have planned enough time for relaxed group photographs.