Let’s be honest, family portraits on a wedding day is probably the least favorite part of the wedding day. If is not organized and there is no direction, it can take a lot of unnecessary time and can be quite stressful for everyone involved. Here’s the thing though, it doesn’t have to be that way! While it may not be your favorite part of the day as a bride or groom, there are a few ways to make it more enjoyable and fun!
As a photographer, I’ve learned from a few wedding day family portraits not going the way I had hoped: they were chaotic, unorganized, me + the bride/groom + parents scrambling to find family members, and everyone being stressed out. I’m putting myself out there right now to say it was partially my fault and learning and growing as a photographer.
I took what I learned from the not so great experiences to make wedding day family portraits a fun, stress free, organized, time efficient and (hopefully) enjoyable experience for everyone! When I meet with each of my brides/couples before the wedding, there are a few things I ask/strongly encourage them to do to help with family portraits.
I ask them to make me a Family Shot List. I ask them to include names of every family member that will be participating in family pictures. People like being called by their name, not just “Hey, Bride’s grandma”. This list is the first thing you need to help family portraits run smoothly and efficiently.
I strongly suggest the couple to assign a good family friend or extended family member from both families to help with the family portrait time. Ideally someone who knows or is somewhat familiar with names and faces of the family. During family portraits, I give the Family Shot list to this designated person. It is their job to read off the list, find those people who are needed for the current picture and the one following it next. This has been a game changer. It not only saves time, but it saves from me, my couple, or their immediate families from tracking down everyone. Now what was chaos (sometimes is organized chaos — LOL), but that one change suddenly makes family portraits way more enjoyable for the couple and their immediate family. They can focus on the pictures being taken and being present instead of half smiling while working about who is and isn’t around for the next picture.
When at all possible, I always ask my second shooter to help me arrange family members. People want to feel taken care of. They want to feel that they are truly important enough to take a moment and tell them where they should stand to flatter them in front of the camera. Having my second shooter around to be another pair of eyes and help me make everyone feel taken care of really changes the whole experience for everyone involved. Win win — always!!
I hope these three little tips are helpful to you, whether you are a bride or a photographer! I know they have really helped me and wedding day family portraits end on a happy note! <3