Photographing the wedding formal groups
Photographing the family groups and the formal photos at weddings doesn’t really strike fear in my heart any more. I have the experience to work efficiently, and also work around any challenges that come up. I can take things in my stride, and I’m not often ruffled. I keep things motoring along.
With that, I just had to share this amusing photo from a recent wedding – the bride and groom with the 3 nephews. Count them! And that’s about the best shot we got with all three of the kiddos in the frame.
So even with all the experience and cameras & lighting gear, plans might not quite work the way we intended. But … we keep rolling on and take this in our stride. This is a memory of the day. This is how it was. No reason to force anything with little kids and upset them. This was a real moment, and I am sure it will bring a smile to everyone’s face forever.
The final group shot of the afternoon, before heading out to the reception venue – every family member in the frame.
The only realistic way for me to have them all visible in the group, was to have everyone standing staggered on this short incline, while I stood on a chair. Of course, having their backs to the sun was my next consideration – no squinting, and no harsh shadows. The photo below shows the test photo without flash. For this much light, and still using a softbox, I needed the 500 Ws power of the Profoto B1 flash (B&H / Amazon). It has become a workhorse at weddings now – for example as shown in this article: using the Profoto B1 flash at a wedding.
- Camera settings: 1/250 @ f/11 @ 400 ISO
- Nikon D810
- Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8E VR (B&H / Amazon)
- Full power on the Profoto B1, diffused with 3′ Octabox with the inner baffle removed.
My assistant held the flash overhead on a monopod.
Sequencing the family photographs
The big group shot wasn’t quite as random as it may look – I still took care to place people so that everyone was visible to the camera. Obviously I took the more calmer photos first with everyone looking at the camera – but here I wanted a final exuberant photo, even if some people will be obscured by waving arms. The client can choose.
For the rest of the family photos, I follow a specific pattern to make sure that I get all the family groupings in as short a time as possible. I don’t work off a shot-list. Instead, I create a family diagram for myself which I build up during the consultation with the client. In this way I am aware of all the ways the family is grouped, showing all relationships.
The way that I draw this up, is carefully explained in a video tutorial available on Craftsy. It also demonstrates how I use this diagram to sequence the family photographs.
The formal photo session is where newer photographers have difficulty in finding traction. Suddenly under pressure and with dozens of people pulling in different directions, it is easy to come apart. With this video tutorial, we’ll cover ways of sequencing and posing the family groups. With numerous useful tips, I cover this topic and explain how I keep everything on track during this part of the wedding day. We’ll cover the topic thoroughly, working from a diagram layout of the family groups, all the way to lighting and posing.
Check this out, as well as the other video tutorials and online photography workshops.
- Positioning your flash for the wedding formals
- Wedding photography moments – Anticipation & being ready
- Wedding photography: posing and lighting – a consistent style
- Tips & advice for second-shooting weddings
- Using the Profoto B1 flash at a wedding
- A simple lighting setup for photographing the wedding formals
- Adapting the use of light & flash photography
- What else is in your camera bag?