A super guest post from our in-house wedding photography expert, Kevin Wood of Scott-Wood Photography…
My style as a photographer is documentary, so from my point of view a wedding without formal group shots is perfect! That said I do get requests to capture formal group shots and I do believe they have their importance for each couple whatever the reason.
Capturing Brilliant Group Shots – Naturally
There is an art and a skill to making formal shots look completely natural, so here is my insider guide to ensuring your formal group shots look amazing and that you don’t get ‘smile fatigue’ from spending hours posing!
Why have Group Shots?
Some couples naturally prefer to have more formal group shots. It’s important to me to be honest with my couples so if they want a LOT of group and formal shots I may advise them that they will need two photographers, so that I can concentrate on capturing their story whilst the other photographer captures the formals.
Parents and Grandparents understandably want photos that they can display and treasure. Quite often their preference is for something very formal that captures important family members with the bride and groom.
For some couples they may be seeing old friends and family that they haven’t seen in a while and it could be some time before they see them again. So, for them it’s about capturing everyone together on an amazing day.
How many is too many?
There are a few factors that influence this such as the size of the wedding and personal preference, but I try to keep group shots to around 6-8 with a maximum of 12. More than that and it starts to affect the flow of the day. So many couples say to me how they got bored or frustrated at other weddings thanks to being stood around waiting for the next group shot to be done. I was once given a list of 35 groups and just felt my heart sink…………
With the 6-8 group shots done formally the rest can be captured spontaneously through the day.
How long do group shots take?
On average each group shot will take about two minutes with good planning and assistance from the best man and an experienced photographer taking the shots. However, for large complex groups it may take as long as 10 minutes to set up and take.
What do you mean by natural and spontaneous shots?
Group shots don’t have to be stiffly formal. They can be arranged so that everyone looks natural in and is interacting. You can also just capture people as they come together spontaneously in groups such as when they’re enjoying conversation at a table or chatting over a glass of champagne.
How should my photographer frame a group shot and decide on location?
I look for three things when taking a group shot, light, composition, and background.
For location I look at what’s available at the ceremony and reception venue, particularly architectural and landscape features. For large groups height is the key so I will look for a balcony or the top of a roof if it’s accessible safely. I also love to introduce movement to a shot i.e. walking or waving to add interest and depth. I love the shots I can get keeping the group animated and active. as I take several shots in ‘sections’ to capture one part of the group in depth.
What do you consider the key group shots?
There are six to eight shots that I’d recommend capturing formally whilst anything else can usually be captured more spontaneously.
- The Bridal Party
- Big Group (all guests)
- Bride and Groom with Parents (both sets)
- Groom with Ushers
- Bride with Bridesmaids
- Bride and Groom with Grandparents (both sets)
Are there any other words of advice that you can give?
The one word I always say to couples is RELAX!
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Category: Real Weddings