Family Portraits (also known as the formal family photos) are an important part of your wedding day. Its an event where family comes together and time should be allocated to having family photos captured.
As a wedding photographer, I frequently hear people grizzling over having to be in the family photos and trying to avoid them. But these days I come across so many families that don’t live in the same state, sometimes don’t live in the same country, so coming together is a rare occasion, making these family photos even more important.
Organising the family photos is one of the most difficult parts of our jobs as wedding photographers. Rounding up people that we don’t know. It’s not easy and Ive heard people compare it to rounding up a herd of cattle. The guests are busy catching up with family and friends they haven’t seen for a while and aren’t listening to the photographer above all the noise. Family portraits are kind of like the necessary evil of the wedding day, but with patience, they always get done. Family portraits are important, if not today, they will be in the future.
It could be said that the family portraits are the boring part of a wedding day, so to help get through them as quickly and painless as possible, here are a few tips to get through the formal photos as quickly and efficiently as possible.
WHEN DO THE FAMILY PORTRAITS HAPPEN?
Generally after the ceremony after the guests have congratulated the newlyweds. All your family and friends are gathered in the one place.
I always try to do the family portraits as close to the ceremony location as possible, in a shaded area. The less moving we have to do, the better.
If there are elderly people, such as grandparents, in the portraits who aren’t as mobile or require walking assistance, I always try to accommodate them without making them feel as if they are a burden, even if it means we move the group to where they are.
HOW LONG SHOULD WE ALLOW FOR FAMILY PORTRAITS?
Generally, most couples have family photos with just their immediate family. Some also include extended family, as well as friend groups.
I recommend allowing around 20 minutes for immediate family and 30 minutes or more for extended family and friend groups. If you allow around 2 minutes per group that should give you an estimated amount of time to allow.
WE HAVE ATTENDED WEDDINGS WHERE THE PHOTOGRAPHER DIDN’T CAPTURE FAMILY PORTRAITS. HOW CAN WE ENSURE ALL THE FAMILY PHOTOS WE WANT ARE CAPTURED?
Around 4-8 weeks before the wedding day, I meet up with my couples to plan the wedding day timeline, along with creating a list of names for the group photos. This ensures we don’t miss anyone on the day.
WHAT CAN WE DO TO ENSURE THE SMOOTH RUNNING OF THE FAMILY PHOTOS
I recommend you allocate at least one helper who is familiar with both sides of the family, or two helpers with one from each of the bride and groom’s side, to assist with gathering people for the family portraits. Preferably the helper/s is not involved in the photos themselves, for example a bridal party member who is not related or a close family friend.
Prior to the wedding day, we will create a family portrait list with the names of the people in the groups. Please provide your helpers with a copy of the list. Even as going as far as letting the people required for the family photos know ahead of the wedding day so they can be ready for their group photo. Usually someone with a loud, confident voice is best, as I said before, it can be a bit like rounding up cattle.
STYLE OF FAMILY PHOTOS
While family photos are more formal, in that we find a nice uncluttered background for the portraits, they are still kept very relaxed and not overly posed. I do instruct people involved in the group photo to remove sunglasses, putting anything they are holding to the side ie. handbags, cameras, phones, drinks.
I suggest around 12-20 people per group is an ideal number where you can see everyone’s faces. The more people in the group, the harder it is too see everyone’s faces and more time is required to pose/position people. If there are no steps or seating, creating layering for different heights is more challenging. Also more photos need to be taken to ensure there is at least one photo where each person is not blinking.
AN EXAMPLE OF A FAMILY PORTRAIT GROUP LIST
Whilst you will want the immediate family and close extended family in groups, you wont want to go overboard. Besides the time it takes, your guests might get impatient waiting if they are down a long list, especially when food and drinks are waiting for them.
Here is a list of the more common combinations:
Bride + Groom with Bride’s mum and dad Bride + Groom with Bride’s mum and dad, and siblings Bride + Groom with Bride’s mum and dad, siblings and their partner/children Bride + Groom with Bride’s mum and dad, siblings and their partner/children, and grandparents Bride + Groom with Bride’s Grandparents (mum’s side) Bride + Groom with Bride’s Grandparents (dad’s side) Bride + Groom with Bride’s mum’s family Bride + Groom with Bride’s dad’s family
Bride + Groom with Groom’s mum and dad Bride + Groom with Groom’s mum and dad, and siblings Bride + Groom with Groom’s mum and dad, siblings and their partner/children Bride + Groom with Groom’s mum and dad, siblings and their partner/children, and grandparents Bride + Groom with Groom’s Grandparents (mum’s side) Bride + Groom with Groom’s Grandparents (dad’s side) Bride + Groom with Groom’s mum’s family Bride + Groom with Groom’s dad’s family
Another common group photo is a photo of all the guests. These photos are best if the photographer can position themselves at a higher point to angle down on the guests. However, many venues this is not possible so in those instances the group photo is about making it fun, like the cheesy photo of the couple kissing and the guests with arms in the air cheering them on, cheesy but effective.
AT THE END OF THE DAY
At the end of the day, while the couple may love the photos from their bridal portraits the most, but your parents and grandparents will treasure the family portraits the most and are generally the photos printed and put on display and the ones that you’ll treasure for years to come.
ARE YOU STRESSING OUT PLANNING THE WEDDING?
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