In this QUICK FIX SERIES I’m covering how to handle those large unruly wedding parties quickly and effectively to get the shots your couple needs and deserves. We’ve all had them. That wedding party of 22 that’s had a little too much fun on the way to portraits. Or the group that had a little too much fun the night before the wedding and would now rather stick a fork in their eye rather than face daylight, while posing for pictures. You name it, I have seen it and I know a fix for it.
First things first – I build a custom timeline for all of my clients and the allotted time for portraits depends on the amount of time booked by the client, whether they are seeing each other prior to ceremony, locations, and driving time between locations. Once we have that all squared away I can come up with a mental game plan (or written down one if you like to go that route). I typically allot 30 mins. for the girls and guys separately before the ceremony if they are NOT doing a first look and 60-90 mins for the entire portrait period if they ARE doing a first look. Its not a ton of time so we have gotten good with keeping our groups engaged and ready to shoot.
Things to Remember:
*Be Organized & Have a plan of action
*Have your go-to poses memorized or on hand. I memorize mine – but you could take a quick glimpse at a pre-prepared shot list. If you are not confident and quick to move from pose to pose, you will lose their attention.
*Keep them engaged. Talk to them. Check in. Make sure they KNOW what you expect of them.
*Keep your composure, even if you are getting ruffled because of time constraints or other things. At the end of the day they are there to have fun and you are there to capture it.
For the purposes of this post I am going to lay out how I handle a group when the couple IS doing a First Look. Once the first look is complete I start with the entire wedding party’s photos. I don’t want any wandering groomsmen, so I have to keep them engaged or busy. I get it, portraits can get boring and they become easily distracted by something shiny on the limo. Or that sandwich place is just calling their name – but really, THIS is not the time to wander. So back to keeping them busy…I do a few Go-To poses with the entire group, making small movements to change the entire image without moving all 22 wedding party members.
I also change up the look with the lens I am shooting with. Since I shoot primarily with PRIME lenses, I will shoot the group with the 24 wide and then step back have them all lean in towards Bride and Groom and shoot with 85 to create a tighter shot with a creamier background.
I love walking shots and the movement they create. They are just fun!
Next I move on the Bridal Party group shots. I work quick – remember I’ve got to keep the attention of those easily distracted groomsmen because they are up next. I make sure to check in with them after every few shots, mostly to make sure they are still there. The ladies are easy. I start with a traditional pose or two, and then we move seamlessly into our go-to posing where we get to see more personality.
If your ladies are looking a bit awkward, use it, tell them to throw their heads back and laugh “because this isn’t awkward at all, right”??!!??”
Sometimes just throwing it out there will break the ice and get them to relax and have fun.
Around this time I will turn around again and make sure guys haven’t disappeared. Whew! They are all still there.
Back to shooting. I get a few more staggered poses or walking shots and then move right into the individual shots with each Bridesmaid. If your group is up for it you can get some fun ones of the bride with each bridesmaid together too.
Then I transition to the guys by getting shots of the Bride with siblings, specifically brothers, at this point. If they have brothers and sisters I get a group shot of them all & incorporate the groom. Then I do the same for groom and his siblings.
Once I am sure I have all the shots of the girls that I need I let them go hang out on the bus – because lets face it – girls tend to follow directions and won’t wander off to get a sandwich.
Now its GUY time! I get the guys in a traditional pose first to get that out of the way and after that its all relaxed shooting. If any guys are getting anxious I take a beat and *in my southern accent and with a smile* tell them that if I can have their attention for 5-10 minutes I will get everything I need and they can go drink – but if they won’t follow directions in a timely manner it’ll take another 30 mins.
That usually does the trick and one groomsmen, we will call him my “wing man”, will usually pipe up from that point on if anyone gets out of line – because that guy has a beer with his name on it. After a few go-to poses with the guys and individual shots with the Groom & each groomsmen. I usually end with the walking shot.
Guys rock this. Every single time. I tell them to walk, talk to each other, high five, tell a dirty joke – whatever it takes to get a laugh out of the groom – and they take it from there.
Then I congratulate the guys and tell them they are ALL DONE and go get that drink. But not the Groom. Nope – you get back over here – its time for pictures with you and your lady.
I hope this has helped you in how to handle your large or unruly wedding parties.
Mandy Paige Photography teaches workshops and hosts one on one coaching for other professional photographers around the country.
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