Dear group shots,
I’m sorry I’ve neglected you. In a way you’re like the ugly step sister of wedding photography. You’re part of the family, but you’re not cinderella. I don’t really show group photos on my website unless I feel I must. It’s not your fault you’re like this, it’s just, I prefer someone else.
Let me explain a bit first.
As a relative newbie to the world of wedding photography, group shots are the part of the wedding I least look forward to shooting. I should try to love them more, because couples really do value these shots. Guests can be tricky to persuade though, and often take opportunities to lurk behind others if they thing they can get away with it.
Wedding photography is a funny old beast. Most people are happy for the couple and they enjoy the day, but feel put out at being included in group photos. Whenever I’ve been asked to be part of a group photo I’ve always felt a bit special, realising that the couple wants me to participate in something that they’ll get to keep forever, that I mean something to them. I think that’s something I need to communicate better to anyone who feels put out at being included in a group wedding photo – It’s not for you or me, it’s for them.
Getting Good Group Photos At Your Wedding
There are a few sure fire ways to get those group shots in the bag, leaving you to go off and enjoy your wedding knowing that they’re done and dusted. I’ve been in business as a wedding photographer for about a year now, and I’ve photographed weddings of all different sizes in lots of different locations. I’ve also shadowed 3 fabulous photographers this summer, and learnt an absolute ton about making group shots as easy and fun as possible.
1. Keep the number of shots to a minimum
A group shot can take a few minutes to compose. The bigger the shot, the longer it takes to get everyone standing in the right place and looking the right way. If you have more than 6-8 group photos to take, you’re going to need to set aside a chunk of time to make sure they’re done.
2. Do the big one first, immediately after your ceremony if possible.
Getting everyone together is hard, but if everyone’s already there as they’re leaving your ceremony then that’s the hardest bit over! Do the big ass group shots before the bar opens.
3. Keep your list of group photos short
As a wedding photographer I’ve quickly learnt what does and doesn’t work for group shots. If you’ve hired me to take relaxed photos with a creative twist, then I’m not going to be able do 22 group photos and fulfil the rest of my brief. We can usually get everything essential in 6-8 group shots, and then you can have more time enjoying yourselves and catching up with old mates instead of standing around in front of a camera.
4. Give the list to someone with a loud voice.
A groomsman, usher or bridesmaid is perfect for this. They usually have a good idea who is who at your wedding, and they’re invaluable in terms of rounding people up. It seriously saves a lot of time!
5. Don’t be afraid to show your personalities.
I’m not one for really staged photos, but I do love a group shot that’s not just about standing stock still, staring at the camera. Lisa Devlin is amazing for getting creative in her group shots, and I’d love to try something out like this (click to see awesome group shot inspo).