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The importance of group shots in wedding photography

Most of the couples I speak to about their wedding photography are clear about one thing: they don’t want to spend hours being lined up for formal group shots.  They’ve all been to those weddings where the couple, along with their close friends and family, disappear for the whole of the drinks reception for photographs.

We’ve all been to weddings where we’ve been shuffled through seemingly endless group combinations at the whim of the photographer. And you always, always see someone wander past with a tray of the best canapés while you’re standing in line with your camera smile on.

wedding photography group shots same sex wedding two brides

A candid, documentary approach with a selection of informal groups thrown in for good measure

The stereotypical wedding photographer that takes lots and lots of formal shots is not what most of my couples want.  They want candid photography for the majority of their day but they also get why group shots are important.

I do get the odd couple who don’t want any group shots but the majority of my couples want them and really value them, even though they know they won’t be the most fun part o their wedding day.

A group shot is more than a snapshot of your family members stood in a line; it is a visual legacy that will become a part of your family history.

wedding photography family group shot line up

Group shots at my parent’s wedding

When I look at my parent’s wedding pictures I find the group shots fascinating. My parents are there, looking baby faced.  Mum is wearing a floppy bridal hat and looks radiant. Dad looks like a cool dude in his flared suit and platformed shoes (really!). My aunties are all young and beautiful bridesmaids.  Both sets of grandparents are all there looking much, much younger than I ever remember them being. Those pictures show me a world that’s familiar but completely alien at the same time.  A world where I don’t exist yet.

Large family group wedding photography group shots

Don Draper – The Wheel

It reminds me of a scene from Mad Men where Don Draper talks about nostalgia. Google ‘Don Draper The Wheel’ if you’re interested. Don Draper is pitching for a job and he talks about nostalgia.

“Nostalgia – it’s delicate, but potent. In Greek, “nostalgia” literally means “the pain from an old wound.” It’s a twinge in your heart far more powerful than memory alone”

When I look at that group shot from my parent’s wedding  I feel nostalgic for a world I was never a part of.  When I look at that photograph and others from my history, even those that pre-date my existence, I feel that twinge that Don Draper talks about.

Your group shots are a dose of nostalgia, not only for you but for every person that comes after you and wonders what you and your family used to be like 1o, 20 or 50 years ago.

Big group shot wedding photography group shots

You could be drinking Champagne instead, of course

I am romanticising things a bit.  There are probably things you would rather be doing than standing in a line having your picture taken. There’s that champagne I mentioned earlier for a start.

There are ways of making it quick, enjoyable and even creative though! I do take shots of people standing in lines but I always make sure it’s laid back and relaxed. I’ll generally make sure you have a glass of bubbly in your hand if you want one and we can send someone for snacks any time you like.

Colourful group shot at Barbican

Working quickly and shooting around 6 group combinations

I work really, really quickly and suggest that my couples limit their group shots to around 6 groups shot combinations. This takes around 20 – 30 minutes and means that my couples can quickly get back to enjoying their party. If you do want more wedding photography group shots that’s totally fine. We just need to make sure it’s built into your timeline.

Working to maximise your time and incorporate photography into your timeline

An important part of the service I offer to my couples is working with you to make sure your timeline allows enough space for everything that’s happening on the day.  You can check out this post which has suggested timings for each element of your day, including wedding photography group shots.

If you’d like to work with me as your wedding photographer, I’d love to have a chat about your plans. You can get in touch here.

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