Colourful wedding group photo at Camp Bestival

Do I really need group photos at my wedding?

The formal group photos at a wedding are a real marmite subject amount both couples and clients. There are those who love the step-by-step organisation of a wedding, the way it has always been done and those who want to throw it all out of the window and have a totally unique ceremony. Photographers also range from the fashionistas with all the lighting gear of a god on the first day of creation to the totally hands-off photographic ninja who hates to be spotted.

Let’s look at the reasons you may want group photos.

  • Family and peer pressure.
    – You’ve planned your perfect day and your mum has reminded you that Aunt Maud has contributed a lot to your life and would like her and her 16 kids to be photographed with you.
    – During the cocktail hour one of your friends reminds you that your college friends are all together, so let’s have a group photo.
    – There’s an amazing cloud formation and Uncle Bob said it would be the best background ever for a shot of your cousins with the two of you.
  • You don’t know what else to do.
    Let’s face it, you’ve never got married before, well 90% of you. The group photo session is something that everybody does right?
    Well, be that as it may, you’d be surprised at how few you actually do want if any at all. Why? well, I’ll explain.

Shooting in the Era of Film

When you received your proofs in the film era you used to take them round the family to see what photographs they wanted to order when you ordered your album. A large percentage of your family would want a copy as this was the only way to get a nice picture of the family all dressed up without visiting a professional portrait studio therefore sales were high and photographers capitalised on it. A portion of the day was spent photographing all the different permutations of the people who like a photograph of themselves with you.

Enter the selfie

These days there is such a thing as the selfie. The Selfie has replaced traditional group photos…to a point. Most of your friends will grab you and enjoy a selfie or two. These are the group pictures your friends will want to take home with them there are no group shots required by the photographer. This does not mean there is no longer a need for a list of family groups, just cause for thought on the impact your groups make on the day. The people who really do still want to photograph with you are your parents, siblings and immediate family, as do you for your album I’m sure. The one group I like to recommend is the large group of everyone attending, I love this shot, not only does it show you, in years to come, who shared your big day, but it also gives me the chance to introduce myself as the nutcase photographer you invited to the day.

*I love the challenge of getting every single person in the large group to show their face*.

How long will they take?

That is a difficult question as it only takes one key person to go to the loo via the bar and the schedule is out of the window. I advise that you average the groups at 5 minutes each. It may seem a long time but it really does take that long to herd cats and all couples are surprised at how long they take and the one thing you forget…..
You are in every single one!

I’d forgive you if you think I hate photographing the groups at a wedding, I really don’t. In fact, they can be great fun if everyone is prepared. Different locations, lighting, poses. If you want to avoid the lines of people, give time, we photographers usually fall into lines for speed. 10 groups at a wedding can easily hit 50 mins and when they are over you’ll have had enough for a bit and need a break, trust me. Usually, a 2-hour window is left for the “cocktail hour” To many times I am left with 40 minutes to squeeze in the candid shots and bridal portraits (let’s face it, the bride and groom are kind of important), enough yes but it would be great to have more to relax into it like those long morning coffees when you do manage to get up early….. so worth the effort.

In conclusion

The portion of the day set aside for the groups can be a great part of the day if treated right, if not it’ll be a trial. Chat with me, your photographer, in advance, with your ideas and we can work out a plan together. I’d love to make this part of your wedding special, memorable and unique for all involved.

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