Do I Photograph 'Formal' Groups?

It’s a question I get asked from time-to-time. And browsing through my portfolio and Instagram feed I can see why – I rarely ever post them. In short, the answer is yes. They just aren’t the sort of images I showcase. This is for a number of reasons:

They tend to be personal to the bride and groom and their families, and unless you happen to be in the photograph or know them well they aren’t particularly dynamic, which in terms of a showcase puts them in the ‘boring pile’.

Having said that we understand the value they have to the newly-wed couple and their families. Particularly the parents and grandparents. Later in life they serve as historic family records. I personally treasure a ‘formal’ group photograph of four generations in my own family – my son, me, my father and grandfather.

I set aside some time during the wedding day, normally the drinks reception, to capture the group photographs. Using a list provided by the bride and groom prior to the big day, I work with the ushers/bridesmaids or a best man (in fact anyone who knows the family and wedding party well) to help gather the family together in an unobtrusive manor rather than me barking orders at the guests, which no one appreciates.

These photographs take time and can be a little disruptive to the natural flow of the day. Also, my style is all about recording the day organically in the background – telling the story – this is when I get my best shots.

For all these reasons I recommend keeping the number of different group photographs to a maximum number of ten. Personally I think about six works well. Here’s a recommended list:

Bride and groom, bride's parents.
Bride and groom, groom's parents.
Bride and groom, combined parents.
Bride and groom, combined immediate families.
Bride and groom, bridesmaids and groomsmen.

The photographs below highlight a few typical examples. They were taken at weddings at the Larmer Tree Gardens.

A few examples