FAQ : Shooting Family Formal Photos at Weddings

I often get asked about shooting family formal photos at weddings. To be honest, I don't know how to answer most these questions because it's something that varies from wedding to wedding. What I can say is that I try keeping them as simple as possible to move things as quickly as possible. When I first started, I lacked direction so the family portraits on the wedding day would take way too long.

As time passed, I made the decision to chat with my clients in advance about their expectations and the best way to approach family formals. I encourage my brides to have a conversation with their family in advance about photos to avoid confusion on the wedding day and then explain an optimal scenario: Starting with a large group and peeling back people in layers. By this I mean we start the photo with a very large family group of the bride's family, then peel away aunts/uncles/cousins, then peel away grandparents, then peel away siblings, so we're left with just the parents. Then I shoot just parents with the bride and groom, then just the siblings, then just grandparents. Then I shoot both sets of parents with bride and groom. Then I repeat the process with the groom's side of the family. If everything goes well, I can shoot all formals in about 30 minutes.

If family formal photos take longer than 40-45 minutes, I feel like it's frustrating for all parties involved. Family members want to be at cocktail hour, the bride and groom get tired of standing and posing for so long, and the overall experience becomes laborious. And, really, who wants that on a wedding day? I, of course, will shoot anything and everything I'm asked to shoot, but I think the best way to find the best fit for everyone involved is educating clients based on their needs, explaining the photographer's perspective, and encourage pre-wedding communication with family members.

Here are a few samples of family formal photos from recent weddings…I keep them straight-forward and classic in order to optimize the experience for the bride and groom…

Finding a location with soft, natural light is always preferred for best results…

I usually snap a quick photo with the groom and his parent as the groups are swapping out for another photo. Shooting while JD is organizing other group formals is a great way to maximize our time together. I'll shoot the same photo with the bride and each photo with each parent takes just a few seconds to snap.

As I'm shooting formals with kids in the shot, I usually ask JD to stand over my right shoulder and call in the direction of the camera to make sure they know where to look…

I don't always get back light like this, but when I do, I'll always shoot in it! 🙂

Like always, these FAQ Posts are merely meant to help one person…if it didn't help, so sorry! I'll see if I can make it up to you in the near future! 😉

Happy Monday!