Wedding Photographer FAQ – Part 2

AKA Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Wedding Photography But Were Afraid to Ask

Creative black and white wedding photography of Groom and Best Man with statues

Question 4: How Many Group Photographs Should I Have and How Long Should They Take?

Yay Group photographs! Everyone’s favourite part of a wedding day!

What is a group photograph? Well, if time is tight or we have a lot to get through then it does tend to be a formal picture of you standing in a line with your nearest and dearest. But… with a bit of time and thought, they can be as creative and fun as any other photograph. So the image above, is that a group photograph? Yeah! Why not?


Many of the wedding photographers I like and admire feel very strongly that you should severely limit the number of group photographs you have taken on your wedding day. Some even go so far as to limit the number themselves, to around six or eight. There are a couple very good reasons for this:Documentary, natural wedding photography from Irnham Hall wedding

  1. If you’ve booked me, or a similar wedding photographer, chances are it was because you wanted a collection of creative photographs that captured the fun and emotion of your wedding. Not because you wanted traditional photographs of people standing together looking at a camera! If I’m taking traditional group photographs, then I’m not being that creative photographer you booked.
  2. OK this is a cliche but it’s so true – your day is going to go by pretty quickly if you let it, how much of it do you want to spend standing around being photographed, or worse, waiting for people to come and join you in a photograph? 45 mins? An hour? I didn’t think so!

To the right are some of the wonderful moments and gorgeous, funny guests I caught at the wedding of Frankie and Shane at Irnham Hall. Photographs I could take because we kept our group photography to the minimum.


I can see that sometimes these group photogaphs ARE very important to you and to your closest family members, and every family is different, so I don’t think there is a blanket answer to how many group photographs you should have. The real question is: how many do you want?

That’s one of the reasons I ask couples to come and see me to talk over their wedding day, so we can compile this list of formal group photographs together. Usually, we will take photographs of you with:

Your parents, your siblings and your grandparents

This can of course be complicated by parents who are no longer together; step parents who you may or may not be close to; siblings having partners they may or may not be with in a few years time; and nephews and neices. So the actual groups we will be photographing can vary wildly. That’s why our planning meeting is so important

Beyond this, some couples choose to include aunts, uncles and cousins. At this point, I advise you only have these photographs taken if you feel you MUST. Once we move beyond your immediate family people do become harder to round up as there are more of them and they are less likely to want or expect to be in a photograph. Bigger groups also take much longer as they often require chairs, to create levels, and people need to be organised so that the group looks good and everyone can be seen. The chance of catching everyone in a flattering way in one photograph also diminishes with the amount of people in the frame.

So my advice would be to cut out photographs of aunties, uncles, friends, co-workers, well wishers et al. All of your guests will have cameras and camera phones, and you know what they’ll spend most of the day photographing? Themselves. Make sure you capture these images and you’ll have a good record of all the guests.

That said, I do understand that for some,  a group photograph with all their girls is really important to them; or Mum never has her brothers and sisters all together these days so a photograph with them would mean a lot and so on. There are sometimes very good reasons to take these photographs and if they’re important to you we’ll take them and we’ll take them well. Just be prepared for a longer session.

And that brings me to my final point. I think an ideal amount of time to spend having group photographs taken is about 20 minutes and certainly no more than 30 minutes. If we’re not trying to rush through a dozen group photographs with a cast of thousands, then we can make sure they are personal and interesting and even fun! If we have a lot to get through, then they are all going to be a bit on the formal side, even the photographs with your bridesmaids and groomsmen, and we don’t want that!

Here’s what I’d like those group photographs to be more like…

Stubton Hall wedding photography groom and groomsmen in chocolate barPhotograph of Bride, Groom and flower girls from recommended Stubton Hall wedding photographernatural Wedding photography of Bride and Bridesmaids at Northbrook House


Next up: Question 5: How long do we need for portraits?