Reportage-style weddings are still very much ‘in’, or at least brides think they are. It is common for a wedding photographer to hear a bride say: “I don’t really want posed shots, just more natural, as-it-happens shots,” but careful questioning will probably reveal that she does not actually mean this. Most brides will want a shot with their parents, siblings, grandmother and so on, and once it transpires that the bride actually does want group shots, the trick is to get through them as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Write down the priority shots before the event and plan time for them. Explain that getting these group shots is unlikely to happen ‘by accident’ during the reception; therefore, the best way to get everyone together, looking good, is to pose. You can always try to get a candid shot later but go for a staged shot to guarantee the image.
– Clarify whether there are any people who should not − or would not − be photographed together, such as divorced parents and new partners.
– Allocate time for each shot, and explain to the client how long this will take.
– Suggest a whole-group shot to cover several combinations.
– Issue a shot list to the best man and your assistant, and keep one yourself.
– Decide where you will shoot − church or reception or both? Gathering everyone together again at the reception venue can be harder than photographing them as they come out of the church.
– Plan a wet-weather contingency.
Building the shots
The easiest way to get the group shots, and at some pace, is to position the bride and groom and add more people to the shot, swapping them in and out but keeping the happy couple constant.
Digital Camera World has some great tips for getting through the first wedding and tricks every photographer should know.
Everyone will tell you that the first wedding is always the hardest, and it does get easier. Even those with years of experience in the business, such as Hampshire wedding photographer Lemon Tree Photography, still get the flutter of butterflies; however, this helps to keep complacency at bay.
The final tip would be to tick off shots with young children first, as their patience is likely to be most limited!