Balancing traditional group shots with candid moments as a photographer is a challenge that has taken me years to perfect. While some might be surprised, I do take traditional group photos. This practice has been a cornerstone of wedding photography since its inception and is anticipated by everyone, especially guests who want to commemorate the special day. What I've mastered is using these formal setups to my advantage. After capturing the traditional shot, I instruct the group to engage in various activities or poses—whether it's looking in a particular direction, tossing their jackets over their shoulders, or huddling closer. I have numerous techniques up my sleeve, and each one invariably leads to genuine smiles and laughter. This approach allows couples to have the best of both worlds: the classic group photo cherished by older generations and a more relaxed, authentic shot that captures the true personalities of the couple and their guests.
I typically allocate 30 minutes for group photos, capturing around 6 to 10 shots. The number often depends on how quickly participants can be gathered, especially during the cocktail hour when many are at the bar. For each group, I usually take one formal photo followed by an informal one. However, it's with the bridal party, including the bridesmaids and groomsmen, that these photos truly stand out. We often save this session for last, after which all guests head inside to the reception whilst I keep the Bride and Groom outside for their portraits.
Capturing traditional group photographs at weddings is often driven by the expectations of the bride and groom's parents and grandparents. These timeless shots typically feature a carefully chosen, uncluttered backdrop where family members and friends are neatly lined up, radiating warmth with their smiles and laughter. It's a familiar scene, one that has graced countless wedding albums.
To ensure that these photographs resonate with the couple's vision, I always encourage the bride and groom to share their preferences regarding the backdrop. By doing so, I can either replicate their desired setting or adapt their ideas to suit the unique attributes of the wedding venue.
To make the photo-taking process as smooth as possible, I find it beneficial for clients to provide a list of desired group shots ahead of the wedding. This proactive approach helps us efficiently manage our time, aiming to wrap up the group sessions within approximately 30 minutes. After the list is finalised, it's a good practice for the couple to print and hand it to a couple of wedding attendees who are well-acquainted with members from both families. Their familiarity aids tremendously in assembling the right group for each photograph, ensuring no moment is missed.
In the world of wedding photography, after the poised elegance of traditional group photos comes the delightful spontaneity of informal ones. While participants usually remain in the same location where the formal portraits were taken, the atmosphere noticeably shifts as we transition to a more relaxed and candid style of capturing moments.
Instead of just having everyone stand in a static pose, I encourage a more dynamic interaction among the group. This might involve playful prompts such as tossing jackets over shoulders, exchanging compliments, or even having the bridesmaids pass their bouquets to the groomsmen. These light-hearted directives not only infuse the session with fun but also genuine smiles and laughter, revealing the authentic bonds and emotions shared among the attendees.
Blending the sophistication of traditional portraits with the vivacity of these candid moments, I aim to craft a photographic narrative that beautifully encapsulates both the elegance and the joy of your special day.