Strike a pose – How to capture the perfect group shot

It’s not often that everyone you love is in the same place at once, so take the chance to get some great group photos at your wedding

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Words by Emma Langman

ONE FOR THE MANTELPIECE

Lining up for the family photos is an essential part of most wedding days, even if leaving the party and going off to a quiet corner with your parents and new in-laws might not really be what you feel like doing. But you’ll regret not capturing those images while you can: “Family group shots make a wonderful memento and will be part of your history to pass down the generations,” points out John Parris of Parris Photography (parrisphotography.co.uk).
Luke Garstka (lukegarstka.com) agrees: “A wedding ceremony is a once-in-a-lifetime event, so it’s essential that we photograph the bride and groom with their most important guests. Your children and grandchildren will love being able to look back at their family all those years ago.”
It’s the ideal time to guarantee some lovely shots of your nearest and dearest that you’ll treasure for years to come, as Audrey Russell (audreyrussellphotography.co.uk) explains: “It’s not every day you have all your friends and family with you in one place turned out in their best attire, so it would be a shame not to make the most of it!”

GATHERING THE CLAN

It can be an uphill struggle trying to pull your family members away from the crowd (and the champagne), but your photographer will have years of experience in the tricky task of gathering the bridal party together, so make sure they help you out here. “A full-time qualified photographer will know how to work with people – it’s their job, after all – so listen to their advice and the day should run like clockwork,” advises John Parris.
Before the wedding day, go through the list of possible group shots with your photographer so they are fully prepped to get the images you want. “I would advise you to keep your list of group shots to around six combinations – this allows me to get through them fairly quickly which in turn means you’ll have more time to spend with your guests and won’t have to stand there grinning like a Cheshire cat for an hour,” explains Audrey Russell. “Once the group shots are out of the way, we’ll capture relaxed images of the bride and groom chatting with their guests and will be on hand if you want any impromptu shots with particular friends or family.”
Don’t forget to discuss the timing of your group shots with your photographer too. Most will click away just after the ceremony but this could vary depending on the format of the day. It’s always best to get these shots done and dusted before your reception starts, though, so you don’t have to leave your guests and miss out on the fun of the party. “I always take group shots after the ceremony in the church or registry office and before dinner,” says Luke Garstka. “That way, things will run smoothy and quickly, as everyone will probably be thinking about having something to eat at that point!”

Parris Photography, www.parrisphotography.co.uk Best Scottish Weddings magazine Scotland

ROGUE’S GALLERY

Most couples prefer to stick to the classic poses for their family shots, but whatever you do, your photos will look best when everyone feels relaxed and comfortable. Nobody enjoys having their picture taken repeatedly, especi­ally when you know you’ll be looking at these photos for the rest of your life, but you can avoid looking stiff by thinking about why you’re there and about the celebrations ahead – you’re bound to crack a beaming smile. “I’m aware that my clients aren’t professional models,” reassures Luke Garstka. “Just be yourself, smile and show how you feel. A good photographer will press the button at the right moment to capture your happiness.”
Your photographer will work with you and your relatives too, cracking jokes and keeping things informal to get the best results. “Expression, light and posing are key to make the traditional family group work, but we also strive to create an enjoyable atmosphere for our subjects,” explains John Parris. “That’s why it’s worth having a professional photographer to take your pictures – we can ease any worries or pressure. Trust us, relax and enjoy the experience.”

THE RIGHT ANGLE

Once you’ve got the traditional shots out of the way, your photographer can be more creative and try out some unusual angles to capture truly memorable photos. “We love taking a shot from a high vantage point with all the wedding party bunched together with their drinks, looking up and cheering for the couple. Informal cuddles – the bride and groom with their parents or other family members – always work as well,” suggests John Parris.
It can be a good idea to take some informal shots later in the day too, says Audrey Russell: “I keep the family group shots fairly formal, leaving the fun shots for the bridal party. I also normally suggest doing some group shots with friends after dinner – everyone relaxes after a few glasses of wine, which makes for some great results!” she says.
The best shots can sometimes be the impromptu ones that are captured when you’re not even looking. “I always have an assistant with me, so while one of us is taking a formal shot, the other is sneaking around to snap what’s going on in the background,” says Luke Garstka. “It always gets results!”

Images – Click on thumbnails below for photographer details…

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