A family member of a bride recently told me that he attended weddings for about ten nieces and nephews in the past year, and he had not seen family photos go as smoothly as what I deliver! Not to toot my own horn, but I think I am pretty dang good at family photos. 😉
First of all, family photos at weddings are incredibly important. Everyone is dressed up. Everyone is in one place. This is an amazing opportunity to capture you with your dearest loved ones. The only caveat? We have a timeline to stick to and not everyone loves posing for photos!
My goal is to run the photos as efficiently as possible. Enter my most effective weapon—don, don, don—the teacher voice! While a huge portion of the day involves me confidently but quietly capturing moments as they unfold, this is my moment to really get involved and guide y’all through the photos! I love interacting with your friends and family, so this is a wonderful opportunity to connect with them and take their photos!
My second secret weapon: I study your family groups like an exam. After you fill in the Wedding Details Document three months prior to your wedding, I sketch out your family groups. I make note if there are any special circumstances. I highly recommend sticking with only grandparents and immediate family for the photos. If you would like any photos with extended family, I recommend saving those for the reception. I think it is much better to preserve precious natural light time for the other more intimate groups we need to photograph.
Thirdly, I have a strong two-part strategy as I shoot your portraits.
Rule number one: I shoot anything I can at that moment! If a brother has run off to the bar, we start with parent photos. If bride’s parents are far chatting with friends, I start with groom’s parents! I do anything and everything I can minimize any wasted time.
Rule number two: Start with the biggest groups and peel back from there. If all family members are present on bride’s side, I start with your grandparents and immediate family. Then I do grandparents and the couple, and then allow grandparents to leave. (They sometimes have trouble standing for a long period of time.) If your or your fiancé have nieces and nephews, I will typically start with the photos of the side that has small children as well. If there is any tension on one side of the family (like a divorce), I normally will do that side first to let them finish and go relax!
Lastly, from experience, I know in my head what photos I need to capture. If I go out of my usual order because we are waiting on a family member, I keep a running list of what photos we have done and what we need to do. While I am organizing everything in my head, my second shooter helps turn everyone sideways and pose hands.