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Advice on How To Prepare for Formal Group Photos

Most of our clients prefer real moments over forced poses, but we know formal group photos are special too. Here are some tips to prepare for your formals for both new photographers and wedding clients.

CANDID VS. FORMAL: Shots of everyone smiling at the camera or candids that showcase personality? If you prefer candids, keep the formal group shots to a minimum and make a list of any VIP people for candids throughout the day. It also helps to have someone to assist in pointing people out. To help with candid posing, we’ll often prompt things like family hugs, teaching everyone how to pretend be a model in 5 seconds, having everyone yell out “Pizza!” (where appropriate), and other little games and banter to keep the mood light and playful and keep people from getting bored. For posed, smiling at the camera shots, a second shooter or designated family member often assists in getting people in line and helping to call out names.

LIGHT AND SETTING: Where to do formals? We look for beautiful light and beautiful setting, but it’s important to consider anybody who may be mobility-impaired. Typically we’ll help select a spot, or select one ourselves. We love outdoor spots and architecture.

SCHEDULING: We like to do group formals before the ceremony when everyone is fresh. (which means more time to party later!) Tell family and friends to meet 15 mins earlier than the scheduled start time to ensure an on-time arrival and prepare to spend at least 30 minutes taking group shots when following the typical list below.

WHO: We suggest keeping family formals between 10-15 different groups. If more are requested, bear in mind that each additional shot takes 3-5 minutes. TIP: Make sure both sets of parents 

BRIDAL PARTY: We aim for fast & fun so your friends can get back to the party. Let us know if you want fun, formal, or artsy bridal party shots.

Typical family formal list:

B&G + B’s parents & siblings
B&G + B’s parents
B&G + both parents
B&G + G’s parents
B&G + B’s parents & siblings
B&G + siblings
B&G + grandparents (1-2 shots if you split the groups)
B&G + officiant
B&G + group shot of any extended family (1-2 shots)

About the Photographer

Welcome! I’m Leah, and I capture stray photons and tell stories with my camera. I believe in kindness. I love quirky movies like Amelie, Delicatessen, & most everything Wes Anderson has ever put on the screen. I love exploring. Find out more about me….

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