Updated: Jun 11, 2020
Something that comes up ALL the time when chatting to new couples, is whether or not they want to go for those 'formal' group shots.
I am all for a good group shot, and I love to get them done super quickly! (Just ask the gorgeous bridal party in the picture above ^^^ I think it took about 2 minutes..) The secret sauce for me is to find a great location and know my posing before getting the guests involved. Oh, and to use my teacher voice to let everyone know what they need to do and where they need to be! In my opinion, as a wedding guest, there's nothing worse to slow down the flow of the day than having to stand around making small talk with strangers, waiting for the photographer to do their thing...
It makes me feel a bit like the kids in this shot >
...especially if I know there is a glass of sparkling stuff waiting for me...
That said, I just love how real this shot is... and yes, we did get a 'picture perfect' shot a little later when the girls decided they wanted to play ball, but I prefer this one :)
Do group shots need to be so formal though? Yawn...
Absolutely not! Think of your group shots as a chance to capture the personalities and characters of your guests. That's why you asked them to be part of your wedding day, right?! I love it when a couple say that I can get creative with the group shots.
Often I tend to find that guests have their own ideas for their pictures, and I love it!
< These chaps spent the entire ceremony, and a couple of hours afterwards, in the most scorching heat, wearing these superhero shirts, purely for this shot! Legends...
On the other hand, I always make sure I have a few tricks up my sleeve just in case...
These lads were up for ANYTHING I suggested! >
They were so much fun and had a few great ideas of their own. Their photos definitely captured their personalities and their relationship with each other - this is so important for creating something a bit different and fun.
Should we stick to the shots we decided on before the day?
Nope! I love to just see where the day leads. I love it when someone comes up with a fun idea to try and I'm all for a bit of experimentation! I'm always on the lookout too for anything that would make a good image. The photo below is one of my absolute favourites, not only as I'm a big music fan, but the groomsmen look so undeniably and effortlessly cool...
** Fun fact: To get this shot I obviously had to stand in the middle of the road. I think the groom may have forgotten what cars need to do at a zebra crossing - he took a little convincing that we would be ok take the shot as they would be in the middle of the road. We did this in one take of course - just get to the other side, I'll worry about the rest! Needless to say, the cars were absolutely fine to wait for 10 seconds in order for them to cross. Job done.
Do you have any tips on how to get awesome group pictures?
Funny you ask! Why yes, I do!
Have an idea of who you want in the shot before the day and make sure your photographer has a copy (I always enlist someone who knows the guests to be my 'gopher' on the day to round up the people we need. It also helps me to have an idea of how many people will be in the shot to determine the best location!)
Decide what sort of *feeling* you want for your pictures. Do you want fun? Cool? Quirky? Formal? Or a bit of a mix? Let's be honest, I'm sure granny would prefer a lovely formal picture rather than something a bit too 'out there' - so let's take more than one shot!
Make sure you know how long there will be to take the group shots - set a bit of time aside during the day if there are specific shots you want captured. This means there won't be a last minute panic trying to rush through shots.
Relax :) Don't feel like you have to 'smile' every time the camera is aimed towards you. Natural smiles and laughter over cheese face, any day of the week! Trust me, everyone ends up smiling and looking amazing anyway - it's just what happens at a wedding!
Trust your photographer! We know what we are doing and we know what will look awesome in a shot. This doesn't mean we don't want to listen to your ideas, it just means that we are pretty great at suggesting a little tweak here and there to make you all look your absolute best.
So should we have some kind of organised group shots then?
Only you can really answer that question...
Do you want to set a little time aside on your wedding day to capture some group shots of your wedding guests?
Bear in mind, these can be done super quickly, especially if you explain to your photographer what your priorities are!
Or would you prefer to have your day captured in a purely candid, documentary style? If you choose this option, of course you won't be able to guarantee getting any particular shot, but the majority of the day will be yours - no waiting for group shots to happen or being taken away from the rest of your wedding guests.
My two cents...
I love a good group shot, and personally, I don't let group shots take too long or take away from the overall awesome experience of a wedding day. However, this is something specific to each photographer as we all work at different paces of course! I always encourage couples to request a maximum of ten formal group shots just to keep the day flowing. I also love trying new and imaginative ideas, so for me, they are great! But in the end, the reason I do what I do is for my couples. So whatever your vision is, together we will make it a reality!