Let’s be honest – the family portrait portion of the day is nobody’s favorite. The photos aren’t sexy or particularly emotional which makes them a bit tedious for the photographer. And the family is just waiting for it to be over so they can get their hands on some appetizers and cocktails. But family photos are important and we do them for a reason. How often are this many of your family members all in one place at the same time and looking reasonably dapper? And you need to get them out of the way between the ceremony and the reception because we all know that Aunt Gladys and Grandma Ruby aren’t going to stick around for the whole shebang.
So, here are a few tips to keep them short and sweet so you can move on with the fun!
1) Make a list. I actually insist on this with my wedding clients. Provide your photographer with a detailed list of all the family groupings you want. List them by name and relation. A good photographer will take the time to learn most of them and as a result will have an easier time corralling. Discuss with your photographer how long they think they would need to complete all of the groupings. If he or she says it will take more time than you’d like, then you need to prioritize your list. Put a star by the groupings that are absolutely necessary and do those first. If things go smoothly, you will hopefully have time for most or all of the rest of them. Also, try to order the list so that you can dismiss people to the cocktail party as you go. Get your grandparents done first if they have a hard time standing around. Children next since they lose patience quickly. Do your bridal party last. They signed up for all this so they will stick it out with you. Send them to get you some appetizers and a drink while they wait their turn!
2) Assign a helper. It may be your day-of coordinator or someone you know who knows most or all of your guests. Ask them to stick around after the ceremony and help to gather family members for photos. DON’T TRY TO DO THIS YOURSELF! It’s harder than you think. Everyone scatters after the ceremony. They head to the bar, stand around chatting to people they haven’t seen in years, they run to the bathroom. The photographer needs you to be in the photos so it’s better for you to stay in one place and send your helper to make sure everyone is where they need to be.
3) Keep it simple. Family portraits aren’t the time to be elaborate or ultra creative. The photographer should have scouted out a place with nice, even lighting and a nice background. With these elements in place, a simple grouping should be lovely.
4) Avoid the paparazzi. By paparazzi, I mean your family and friends with their iPhones. Some photographers actually don’t allow others to take photos while they are shooting. Others are more accommodating, but all of them would tell you that other cameras are a distraction and can slow them down. Multiple cameras cause confusion amongst the subjects who may not be sure where to look. Also, flashes going off at the same time can mess with the lighting your photographer has worked hard to set up. Consider asking your guests to refrain from taking photos during the family portrait session. If you are purchasing your digital files, you will be able to provide your guests with beautiful retouched images that will likely be far better than what they took with their phone.
Stick to these 4 simple tips and you will be finished and moving on to better things in no time!