Weddings aren’t only about the couple. Their families are important, too! Here’s how to make great family portraits at a wedding.
The Ultimate Guide to Photographing Family Wedding Photos
When taking pictures of a wedding, one thing that photographers can have a challenge with is taking family wedding photos. Group wedding photos, especially for larger groups, can pose a challenge for wedding photographers to tackle. There are ways to make this family wedding photos experience smooth for both your wedding photography clients and your photo team. Following is our ultimate wedding day guide to family photography at weddings!
Preparing Ahead of Time for Group Wedding Photos
Make Sure Your Clients Create a Wedding Photo List
Ask your clients to please make sure they put together a family wedding picture list. You can remind the bride or groom to create their wedding photo lists a few weeks ahead of the wedding. That way, they likely know their guest list already and know who they want on their family wedding photos list. If they are not sure where to start, provide them with a sample wedding photography family checklist to give them some ideas. Not every family is the same, so they will need to adjust it to their needs.
Put Wedding Photo List on Phone, Smartwatch
To keep this list handy, you can put the photography list onto your phone or smartwatch. That way you can keep it on hand at all times. It’s also a smart idea to print out the list ahead of time. If you end up delegating the task of finding family members to an assistant or bridal party member, having a printed copy is helpful.
Sample Family Wedding Photos List
- Bride, mom
- Bride, dad
- Bride, mom, dad
- Bride, siblings
- Bride, mom, dad, siblings
- Bride, individual siblings
- Groom, mom
- Groom, dad
- Groom, mom, dad
- Groom, siblings
- Groom, mom, dad, siblings
- Groom, individual siblings
- Bride, Groom, moms, dads
- Bride, Groom, groom’s mom, groom’s dad
- Bride, Groom, bride’s mom, bride’s dad
- Bride, mom, grandmother
- Groom, father, grandfather
- Bride, Groom, bride’s grandparents
- Bride, Groom, groom’s grandparents
- Bride, Groom, bride’s aunts and uncles
- Bride, Groom, groom’s aunts and uncles
- Bride, Groom, ring bearer, flower girl
- All family members group photo
- All bride’s family members group photo with Bride and Groom
- All groom’s family members group photo with Bride and Groom
Check on Sensitive Relationships with the Marrying Couple
Before the wedding, check with your bride or groom on any sensitive relationships in the family. Sometimes there are divorces or strained relationships that may change your family photography timeline a bit. Approach the topic with them from a place of empathy, but also reiterate that it’s very important for you to know ahead of time.
Adding Family Pictures into the Wedding Day Timeline
Make sure that your bride or groom set up an adequate amount of time for family wedding photos in their wedding day timeline. If they are doing a first look, family wedding photos can often be done before the ceremony. That way, your couple only has to focus on getting married and having fun afterward. If they are not doing a first look, or would prefer family wedding photos to be after the ceremony, ensure that enough time is allotted based on the family size. If the couple has a large family, it’s going to take a lot longer than a small family situation. Go over the timeline and their family wedding photos shot list ahead of time with them, and their planner if they have one.
Setting Up Family Wedding Photos
Choose a Large Space to Take Group Family Photos
Scout out the venue ahead of time to find a large space to take your group photos. If this is indoors, make sure that you or an assistant sets up lighting ahead of time to properly capture family wedding photography. If the space is outdoors, consider setting up an off-camera flash setup for good measure in case of natural lighting changes. Family photos are something you can accomplish with natural light, but photographers may set up a lighting kit for consistency.
Have Your Couples Assign a Wedding Party Member to Wrangle
There is often someone in the bridal party who knows the couple’s family a lot better than you. Wedding photographers are more often than not a stranger to their clients’ families. Have the bride or groom assign a bridal party member to help you with wrangling for photos. This will make it easy to find family members for wedding photos. The wedding day timeline will run much smoother with someone who knows the family helping you out. An alternative to this is to have a photo assistant calling out names of family members on the wedding photo lists and lining them up to be in the next shot.
Photographing Wedding Photos of Family
When it comes to actually photographing the family on a wedding day, there are a handful of things to consider. The goal of taking family wedding photos is to create a consistent documentation of the family at their wedding day for the couple to reflect upon.
Consider Using a Tripod or Monopod for Group Wedding Photos
If you’ll be taking all of the group shots in the same place on the wedding day, consider using a tripod or monopod. This will help you to take consistent family wedding photos. It will also help in your editing and retouching process. There may be certain instances that you need to swap out a guest’s head for a different shot of them to keep the group shot consistent.
Keep Your Settings the Same
Once you figure out your settings for the group photos, stick to them. Don’t change your settings if you can help it throughout taking family photos on a wedding day. This will help to create more consistency in your family wedding photography. If you are shooting with natural light and a cloud passes overhead on the wedding day, there is not a lot you can do about that in the middle of taking the family photos – that is why many photographers choose to have an off-camera flash lighting setup for the family photos. It helps to maintain the same aesthetic across the board.
Shoot Lots of Frames
Having lots of people in the same photo leaves room for errors. Shooting lots of frames allows you to later edit out any blinking or other unwanted issues. Leave your camera on a higher drive mode during family photos on the wedding day. Make sure that also during this time is to switch out to a separate memory card just for family photos. This will give you extra insurance that if something catastrophic were to happen on the wedding day, the family wedding photos are isolated from the other photos.
Make Them Laugh
Read the room on how your clients and their family respond to certain jokes. Some families tend to be a bit more formal, while others are very relaxed. Make your wedding photography families laugh. Laughter and genuine reactions make for the most memorable family wedding photos. Sometimes for photographers, that even means making fun of yourself a little bit.
Other Kinds of Family Photos to Consider on a Wedding Day
Formal family wedding portraits are not the only types of family photos to consider on a wedding day. Think about other opportunities to catch important family moments. These are usually in a more informal family photo setting. Throughout the wedding day, your groom and bride may have several special moments occur that involve their family members, and parents especially. Think about these following informal wedding family photo moments.
Informal Wedding Photos with Family
- First dances with parents
- Mother getting ready with bride
- Mother helping bride tie up wedding dress, put on accessories
- Father getting ready with groom
- First look between bride and father
- Bride and father walking down the aisle
- Parents reaction photos during wedding ceremony, especially vows
Looking Out for Special Family Members
Pay attention to any special relationships the couple has with their family members
An example: Some brides have special relationships with a particular aunt. Some couples have good friendships with particular cousins.
Photos of grandparents interacting with the bride/groom
Any moments that you can grab of grandparents, especially those interacting with the couple, will mean a lot to the family for generations to come.
Look out for family photos of older relatives on the wedding day
Older relatives in general are very important to consider for wedding family photos. Having formal photography of parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and other older relatives can mean a lot to your brides and grooms.
Editing Group Wedding Day Photos
One of the most important aspects of family photography at weddings is the editing. When going through your family wedding photos, you must watch out to make sure you only deliver the best family wedding photography to your couple.
Make Sure to Check Group Photos for Blinking, Movement and Odd Faces
When going through the family photos from a wedding day, check the group or family photos for anything unflattering. This can include blinks, movement, adjusting hair, odd faces and more. That is why it is important when shooting the wedding family photos to take multiple frames of each family picture. Make sure you don’t give clients family photos that look like a mistake!
Keep Your Editing Consistent for Wedding Party and Family Wedding
Keep your color corrections and global edits consistent for wedding family photography. If you process your family photos in Adobe Lightroom, create a preset for your corrections. If you prefer to edit with Adobe Photoshop, batch editing with actions is a great way to keep consistent wedding family photo edits.
Getting Great Family Wedding Photography
Take these points into consideration when you’re shooting family wedding photos. Preparing yourself ahead of time will make you look like a true professional wedding photographer to your couple, the bridal party, their parents and their family. Got any other great ideas for family wedding photos on the big day? Leave them in the comments section below!