Wedding Photographer Blog

How We Organize and Capture Family Formals at Your Wedding

Deevo Tindall - Friday, October 30, 2015
How We Organize and Capture Family Formals at Your Wedding

Early in my career, I struggled with professional family formal photos during weddings.The reasons are obvious, 1. They are terribly uncreative, 2. They obstruct with my creative time with only the bride and groom, 3. I am not a big fan of lining a bunch of hot, sweaty, and arguably hungry and thirsty fans up for a lineup of photos, and 4. Most of the time it involves all sizes and shapes of people that need to be arranged in such a short time frame, some of them in wheelchairs or walkers, which does not exactly lend itself to efficiency.

I needed help fast, so like anything else I do, I sat down and pondered and experimented and pondered and tinkered until I came up with a solution that in my opinion has served Fusion very well.

Family photos are extremely critical to your complete wedding photography collection and therefore should never be overlooked. Think about it. You have several hundred folks attending the wedding, many of them from out of town, many of whom have never met or have not seen each other in years. Grandma might be in her waning years. Uncle Ned is losing his eyes, and bad cousin Betty was banned from the last family photos. So, this is your one shot to gather everyone together and combine in them in a legacy heirloom photo for posterity’s sake.These photos do mean a lot to the older generations in particular, which means that once YOU are that older generation, they will mean the world to you as well.

family formal photography wedding checklist 

Approximately two weeks prior to the wedding, we distribute our “typical” baseline family photo list and ask the bride and groom to add accompanying names for us. While being asked to pose for a photo, nobody likes to hear “Hey, you with the cane and grey flannel, you’re next." So instead, we personalize it by calling out names and specific configurations. This is also the place and time for the bride and groom to notify us of any potential family conflicts that we may need to step delicately around, such as potential step-parent or estranged sibling drama. Then, we methodically move through our official family formal photograph list in the same way. The entire process usually takes about 15-20 minutes for an average-sized extended family. We do attempt to limit the size of the list, by encouraging some of the lesser family-focused photos be taken during the reception.

We also ask our bride and groom well in advance to inform everyone on the list that they are going to be required to go to a specific point “A” at the designated time. We also have them appoint ONE particular family member as our Go-To ambassador to insure that EVERYONE on the list sticks around for family photos. This person will be able to act as our personal resource should we have any specific questions. If we don’t do this, invariably someone or even many someone’s will head off to the open bar, or why is Grandma ignoring us, oh she has a hearing aid and we just need to yell louder. Then, when the bride and groom finally see their photos after they have been edited, they freak out because we missed photos with three cousins and poor Uncle Ned, because they were not hilighted on the list. In short, if the list isn't adhered to diligently and there is not ONE focused family member to assist in corralling everyone desired, chaos ensues and photos are missed.  

We prefer the concept of educating our clients and communicating well ahead of time, before the immediate stress of the wedding is at hand. It saves time and energy, avoids invariable pitfalls, and typically yields much better results that include ALL family members who are important to you. 

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They made sure we were comfortable with the camera at our engagement photo session which put me at ease on my wedding day! Our pictures turned out beautiful and we couldn't have asked for a better experience!

Jenny & Peter

Jenny & Peter