When I blog weddings, I often don’t include many family photos. I feel that those groupings often have the most meaning to the people in them and they are not my most distinctive work – I don’t want to reinvent the wheel on what makes a good group photo composition, What I do wan it sharp, in-focus images of happy people.
My family is BIG – I’m the youngest of 5 kids, my immediate family is like 30 people, and once you get my cousins in the mix, we can hit 100 pretty quickly. Which is to say that I truly value the photos of all of us together – at weddings or reunions – those are precious to me. But it is also to say that I have many MANY vivid memories of sitting around having those photos taken.
I take immense effort at each wedding I photograph to make sure that the family groupings are beautiful, happy, and efficient.
So I have some tips:
TIP ONE: What is Important
You need to have a vision – so start by thinking of sending out holiday cards, or looking at your wall of photos in 30 years – what photos are there? Not a collage of every family permutation- probably just a few groupings that really matter to you.
TIP TWO: Let it be emotional
Its kind of a big deal to get married, so let yourself feel it. Taking family photos should be a PART of your wedding, so enjoy being with the people that mean so much to you, and let your photographer worry about getting you all into place. Little moments might catch you off guard and lead to great photos and memories – I’ll take the time required to make sure you can also get a standard photo afterwards.
TIP THREE: Keep it Short
The fewer groupings you have, the more time you will have to actually spend with your family and friends, and that means I am more likely to get casual photos of those people as well. Aim for 10-15 family groupings total
TIP FOUR: Keep married couples together (and that means you!)
If your sister is married, make sure to include her spouse in the family photos. Likewise, make sure to include your spouse in your family photos (most of the photos on your side will include you both). Obviously, you might want a photo of just you and your mother, or your spouse might want a photo with their mother, but include both of you for most groupings. Likewise, if you have step parents or half siblings, lets make sure to include them in the larger group photos as appropriate as well!
TIP FIVE: Think about Grandma (or the flowergirls)
If you are lucky enough to have grandparents to include, consider their mobility and comfort for photos. Walking through a field might not be as good of a choice as staying close to the air conditioned rooms. Same goes for little kids – limit the amount of time they have to be on good behavior so that you increase the chances of getting a great photo with them!
TIP SIX: Make good use of your location
Photos don’t need to be taken on the church altar in order to feel a part of your wedding! I’ve taken photos in dark gothic churches and bright sunny pastures, and most places in between and finding a nice location that includes the feel of your wedding is always possible. Incorporating your wedding location into your family photos just makes sense – it brings in character and connects the formal groupings with the rest of your wedding images.
TIP SEVEN: Make it your own
Every family is different – some are made of friends, or tons of half siblings, or only 1 person. Whatever family means to you is what you should capture – you are not bound by any rules, except to be true to what you and your spouse would like!
So, what photos would you care the most about in years to come?