Why family group shots are important

Manchester wedding photographer

This photo is from my Aunty Sarah and Uncle Mike’s wedding over thirty years ago. It’s not ‘perfect’ - the quality is a bit blurry (this is a photo of a photo though), the little boy at the front is being a scamp and distracting the adults from looking at the camera, but photos like this are so important.

The little boy being a scamp is actually my big brother, and that great big, fat baby is me (I was a serious little porker). I love looking at photos like this - my beautiful Aunty Sarah wore a gorgeous flower crown and I’m fairly confident that Uncle Mike is rocking a mullet. I love seeing my parents at the age I am now (mum with an…interesting hat on…) The elderly couple are my great granny and grandad who are no longer with us and my granny on the far left looks so proud and super glamorous. How smitten is my Uncle Keith with my Aunty Bec?! This photo is a little glimpse at history.

Family group shots are probably never going to be the most exciting part of a wedding though (if it is, I think you’re doing something wrong!), but they’re definitely worth doing. These are the photos that grace mantelpieces, that generations to come WILL look at.

What I aim to do is get family group shots completed as quickly as possible. This involves being prepared and working efficiently on the day. So here’s how I suggest we do group shots to make sure we capture those important photos, but in a way that doesn’t keep you or your guests away from the celebrations too long:

1. Restricting group shots to a maximum of eight combinations. As few as possible. It’s totally up to my couples how many combinations they want, of course, but when you factor in that each combination can take up to five minutes to set up, you’ll see why it’s best to keep them to a minimum. Five minutes might seem like a long time, but trust me, someone always wanders off! Each family setup is different of course, but as a rough guide, the following is perfect:

  • Both families together, your wider family, your immediate family, your parents, your partner’s wider family, your partner’s immediate family, your partner’s parents.

2. Communication. So in the lead up to a wedding I send my couples a details form to give me their timeline and to get extra details I need for the day such as group shot combinations and when we’ll take them. I also ask for them to nominate a couple of individuals who know the family well (normally from the wedding party) to help me gather up guests on the day

3. On the day I scout out the best location depending on light and weather. Unless raining or you’ve specifically requested indoors, I always pick somewhere outside with a lovely backdrop. I take into consideration how sunny it is - if really bright, I’ll always shoot family shots in the shade so that guests aren’t squinting with harsh shadows on their faces

4. I work methodically, starting with the biggest group first and working down to the smaller groups to keep guests waiting around as little as possible. I’ll take a few shots of each combination as well as capturing the in-between moments, which is often when guests relax and beautiful things happen!