Nearly every couple we meet with tells us that they don’t want all of their photos to be ‘traditional’. Obviously we agree with this. However with every wedding we shoot we always do a formal family photo session. Even if the couple isn’t super excited about them their families almost always want them (we’ve never had a wedding where we were flat out asked NOT to do them). Since this isn’t necessarily the favorite part of most bride & grooms wedding day photography experience we’ve streamlined our process to make the session go as smooth & quick as possible. In all honesty most of the time we are able to complete this set of photos in 20 minutes (and many times less). Here’s how we do it (hint – it’s all about preparation):
By being SUPER organized - we send our clients a photo request list as soon as they book with us so they can begin planning with their families which photos they want taken the day of the wedding. We review this list with them shortly before the wedding day and we get specific. We ask for the names of each individual that needs to be in each photo. This allows us to move through the photos more quickly since we’re able to address people by name instead of pointing.
We’ve got a good dynamic between the two of us and have a system that works well (for us). You’ve seen the behind the scenes pictures showing this where I, Ginger, put the camera down and direct each formal shot. While Sarah checks the lighting and other technical aspects, I use our pre-arranged list (which allows for us to direct the formal session instead of having a family member or friend add in photos that aren’t wanted/needed) to move quickly through all of the requested photos. After all the people are arranged we do a quick 1, 2, 3 count and Sarah snaps a couple of shots of each group and then we move on to the next picture. Like I said, it’s a system that works well for us.
We communicate with our clients what to expect and ask them to share their day of timeline and photo request list with their families. The one thing that will absolutely kill a formal family photo session is missing people. After we go through all of the day of info with the bride & groom we ask them to send out the list to all of the people who need to be in the photos so they know when and where to be. There is nothing worse (or more stressful) for our clients (or us) than having to try and track down missing people. (So if you’re ever asked to be in a formal portrait – STICK AROUND!)
Lastly – we try and make it fun! We’ve made jokes about one of us being more ‘assertive‘ than the other (and have even been told we’re a good cop/bad cop team – ha!) but we’re not afraid to laugh at ourselves or to make jokes. We know our couples don’t love standing in one spot with a smile stuck to their face so we try and make it as painless as possible – and most of the time it’s not that bad.
(Yep, that’s a picture from Ryan & Natalie’s wedding, click here to see more of them.)
If you are one of our upcoming weddings (or are thinking of booking us - which you totally should :) ) we’ve already alluded to some of the ways you can make this portion of your day go more smooth, but here are a few more tips and tricks:
Talk to both sides of your family and ask them what, if any, photos they would like taken on the wedding day. It is MUCH better that we know what photos we are taking before the day of the wedding. Although we are willing to accommodate last minute additions to the formal photo list, your day of schedule may not be as forgiving and your session may end up a little bumpier than normal. Part of the reason we ask for the full list in advance is so that we know how long we’ll need to complete them. Also communicating to your family that you have planned in advance with us which photos are to be taken will help the normally ‘assertive’ person in your family from feeling like they need to help direct the session.
Once we finalize your day of timeline and photo request list – you guessed it – pass it around to everyone that is to be included in the photos. Go one step further and give the list to a responsible family member or friend and ask them to help you make sure that everyone that needs to be there is present at the correct time and place.
Communicate to your guests that the formal family photo time is for the professional photographers only. Guest photography is not allowed during this time. We say that not to be mean but to ensure that the professional photos (you know, the ones you’re paying for) are of the highest quality possible. Flashes from guest cameras may interfere with the lighting as we are shooting. It is also distracting to those being photographed as they are unsure which camera to look at and who to listen to as far as direction. Overall guest photography greatly slows down and impairs the overall formal session.
Lastly – go into the formal session with a positive attitude! Sometimes on the wedding day people are stressed (shocking, right?!), tensions run a little high, and the last thing that anyone wants to do is stand for a formal session. Your family will take their cues from you - so if you’re stressed they will be stressed. Likewise if you’re a trooper and stand with a smile like a champ, so will they. We do everything we can to make the experience easy – so let us do the worrying for you!
And since this post is already super long I’m going to end here. As always if you are interested in booking a shoot just contact us!