Words & Images by Liam Smith Photography
In my many years of photographing weddings, I have been incredibly privileged to witness what I have. Such genuine emotion touches the soul and allows one to be completely and utterly immersed in a moment, collectively sharing joy and happiness with a congregation of brand new acquaintances. Here are a few tips and tricks I have picked up along the way for dealing with group photographs. Everyone wants them, however it is the one thing that guests continually cite as the one thing that they dislike about a wedding day. I make a point to all couples to make sure that this part of the day is timetabled and organised as efficiently as possible: when done correctly, group photos can actually be a lot of fun and present opportunities for great candid moments.
Efficient organisation saves a lot of time
If you’re not organised and efficient on a wedding day, the time will evaporate. The day does fly by at an amazing rate, one minute you’re enjoying a cup of tea in your pyjamas eagerly awaiting the day’s events, blink, and you’re getting ready for your first dance. It is imperative to organise the smaller details of the day efficiently to make sure you get the absolute most out of your wedding. First off, make a list of all the group photographs that you would like and the combinations of people in them. Secondly, consider your elderly guests, it can be pragmatic to arrange any group photographs with any grandparents etc. first so they aren’t stood for prolonged periods of time.
The more people know about your agenda, the better.
If at all possible, print the timetable for the day on an order of service or send out as a group email/facebook post to all guests. A contributing factor to loss of time during this period is confusion from the guests on where they need to be. This in turn leads to guests disappearing to the bar or bathroom and time being lost waiting for them. Make sure everyone knows where to be at what time for all parts of the day, not just what time to arrive for the ceremony.
Give the group shot list to ushers.
Ushers need jobs, and chances are between the group of them they will know who the vast majority of the guests are. If they have copies of the shot list, they can help identify people in the crowd and go looking for any stragglers. This is a much more personable approach to organising groups, everyone prefers being greeted by name, everyone of your guests will feel a bit more special that you have singled them out of a crowd for and requested to have a photograph with them.
Honestly, do you really want them?
I feel this is an important question to ask purely because I feel norms are there to be challenged. Consider what value they have to you, how you will use them and who else will benefit from them in the future. The phrase most often used when discussing whether or not to have group pictures often comes under the umbrella of “because nan will want one”. I would always advise to be true to yourself and make decisions that reflect your wants, if you want formal photographs then use the advice above and go for it, if not, it’s completely your choice, which by default, makes it the right one.
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London and Milton Keynes-based Liam Smith Photography is “old school with a twist, definitely digital with a love of the darkroom“. His work is all about creating something beautiful, crafting portraits and capturing the narrative of your day. Liam combines both fine art and documentary to produce something that is unique, just like you.