AKA Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Wedding Photography But Were Afraid to Ask
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:
- 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.
- 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…
Next up: Question 5: How long do we need for portraits?
The Venue and the Styling
And talking of cakes… No. 82 Cake Studio outdid themselves with this stunning semi-naked four tier masterpiece, decorated with fresh flowers.
The boys from VAAS are just amazing, it’s no wonder they are one of Subton Hall’s recommended suppliers. For Aisha and Rory they created the perfect arrangements, bouquets and button holes in whites, soft pinks and blush and lots of on-trend greenery. Because they work extensively at Stubton they know just want looks right in this environment and the results were breathtaking.
Aisha’s dress was made extra special but the fact that she had a big hand in designing it herself. Working with the wonderfully talented Kula Tsurdui, an amazing designer based in Nottingham, they created this stunning belted lace fish-tale gown with sweetheart neckline. I can’t imagine anything more perfect!
She teamed this beautiful wedding dress with a pretty chapel length veil and these stunning tino shoes in blush.
The Hair and Make Up (and their family)
On make-up duty for Aisha and her party was the lovely Ali Gunn and her hairstylist was the fabulous James White. They worked to make the whole bridal party shine and you can see here how beautiful Aisha looked after their wonderful work (that said, they had a lot to work with, Aisha is gorgeous to start with!) I loved working along side these two, they really helped to make the atmosphere fun and stress-free, with lots of giggles.
A beautiful wedding is nothing without a great crowd of friends and family to share it with, and luckily Aisha and Rory have these in abundance! You can see from the photographs how much fun the bridesmaids and groomsmen were and how close they all are. Add to that the cutest page boys and the couple’s adorable girls. Bella and Esme as flower girls, and you have a great recipe for a great day.
It didn’t hurt that they all looked amazing too!
The Bride and Groom
I don’t think Rory and Aisha stopped smiling for a second during this amazing wedding, so there were lots of opportunities to capture their real happiness. After the wedding breakfast we spent a little time together, ensuring we got some photographs that captured their romantic side, as well as the beauty of their chosen venue, Stubton Hall.
No wedding is complete without a great party to finish the day. And Rory and Aisha were determined not to let their guests down. You may have noticed the Hangover Kits included in their styling – they clearly expected their guests to have a great night with them. And they did! Their band, The White Rivers quickly got everyone on their feet after the first dance, with just a short break for a stunning firework display. What a way to finish the perfect wedding.
Here are the details of Aisha and Rory’s Dream Team:
Make Up – Ali Gunn: www.makeupbyali.co.uk
Hair – James White: www.jameswhitehair.com
Styling – Mad Philomena: www.madphilomena.co.uk
Flowers – VAAS: www.vaas.co.uk
Dress – Kula Tsurdui: www.kulatsurdiu.co.uk
Cake – No 82 Cake Studio: www.no82cakestudio.co.uk
Video – Jason Lynch: www.jasonlynchweddings.co.uk
Band – The White River Band: www.facebook.com/thewhiterivers
Shoes – Valentino: www.valentino.com
String Quartet – Norther Strings: www.northernstringquartet.com
Hello! Welcome to my spangly new website! And every spangly new website needs… a spangly new blog – and here it is!
To kick things off I thought I would try to answer all those questions you might have for a wedding photographer, but were afraid to ask. So here it is: the top ten questions I get asked as a wedding photographer. Lets dive right in…
1. Where do I start looking for my wedding photographer?
There are lots of places to start your search, but by being a bit more selective I hope you will find more of what you might like and less of what turns you off. So let’s look at where you might start:
Your Venue – It is always worth asking your wedding venue if they recommend any particular photographers. These will be people who know your venue well, get on with the staff and will generally make the day go that little bit smoother. I am recommended by a number of local venues where I love to work. But here’s the rub: venue recommendations are a good place to start, but most only recommend a handful of photographers, what if none of these float your boat? Well you might need to cast that net a little wider.
Wedding Blogs and Magazines – These can be a great resource as each one has a particular style. If you find one that matches yours, then you may find your perfect photographer there. It’s still a bit limiting, as they will only show what has been submitted and they tend to focus on styling, dresses etc, so you don’t always get a true flavour of a photographer’s work.
Wedding Shows -Wedding shows and fairs can be a great place to meet photographers face to face, look at their albums, get a feel for their personalities and ask lots of questions. Like all the other places above, however, you will only encounter a limited number at each of these. I do attend a number of these, but I know a lot of awesome wedding photographers who don’t.
So where are they all then?!
Google Search – Google kind of has the opposite problem. The web holds a vast array of wedding photography websites and searching by your location, or even by venue can throw up a lot of results, and the best ones may not be those that appear on page one. Also, your ideal photographer, might not be the most local. Try searching by more specific terms like “quirky wedding photographer” or “fine art wedding photographer” and you may find the results are more in keeping with what you’re looking for. It can still be a little like finding a needle in a haystack however.
Recommendations – Probably the best place to find the right photographer for you. You’ve probably got friends who’ve got married recently. Take a look at their photographs, ask them what they thought of their photographer – you’ll get the most honest insight into how they work. Ask other suppliers, in fact anyone who might come into contact with wedding photographers.
Also, if you find someone you really like and they’re not free, don’t stop the search there – ask them if they know of anyone in a similar style they could recommend.
So there’s no one perfect way to find that perfect photographer. My advice is to use a combination of all of the above. Once you start looking you’ll start to realise what amazing possibilities are out there. There really are some amazing people doing beautiful work out there. Some of us produce beautfiul work that pleases most people, others have a very particular style, which brings me nicely on to question two:
2. How do I choose the right wedding photographer?
These days there are so many different styles and approaches to wedding photography, it can be a bit daunting. So let’s make it simple…
You’ve found a number of websites, picked up brochures and cards and got a list of names recommended to you. The first thing to do is to visit each website and just react to the photographs. How you react will depend on what you are looking for: are you looking for natural, photo-journalistic coverage of your wedding day? Do you want something with that extra va-va-voom, that’s going to look amazing on your wall? Do you just want some “nice” photographs to look back on?
With this in mind: look at photographers’ galleries and portfolios and just decide whether you like the photos! I guarantee you’ll disregard most, whatever your tastes are. Once you have a smaller list, take a look at their full wedding galleries: ask yourself, if this were my collection of wedding photographs, would I LOVE it?
Hopefully now you’ve got a shortlist of a few photographers to choose from. Now, go and see them. I know this takes time and you have a hundred things to do when planning a wedding, but trust me, this is the best way to get a feel for the person behind the camera. You can go with a list of questions (but make sure they’re YOUR questions, not ones you’ve read you should ask) but most importantly – just chat. Are they interested in your day? Does there approach fit in with you and the way you want your wedding to play out? You’re going to be spending a lot of time with this person and their approach can make or break your wedding day, so make sure you’re happy with how they’re going to fit in. And remember, if you wouldn’t invite them as a guest, don’t invite them as a photographer!
3. How much should it cost?
Ok, so here’s a real thorny one! Wedding photography prices range from the budget friendly to the extravagant. And, whilst it’s good to set a budget, this can feel like an impossible task when you have no experience or idea of what is reasonable.
The first thing you need to do is to be honest with yourself. There is nothing wrong with just wanting some “nice pictures” of your friends and family and a collection of photographs that help you to remember your day without being artistic master-pieces. There are plenty of good photographers out there who are able to offer more reasonable prices because they take on a lot of work. They may not produce images that are “different” or special, they may not spend as much time meeting with you beforehand, may not use as many techniques or spend as much time with you on the day, or in the processing of your final collection, but you may not want that. And that’s absolutely fine!
The only things I would ask you to look out for with a budget photogrpaher are the following:
Experience – wedding days are unpredictable beasts and you want to make sure your photographer can take any changes to the timeline, weather or anything else in their stride
Professionalism – make sure you are dealing with a company that knows what they are doing, you don’t want to be one of those couples in the local newspaper looking sad because their photographer disappeared without delivering any photogaphs
Insurance – if they ain’t got it, keep looking!
So, what if you want something a bit special? More creative photography tends to be priced from £1,200 upwards, and this is very dependant on location. Why do some photographers charge more than others? Well, it’s not my place to comment on other people’s businesses, but I can tell you a bit about mine. My prices (and I’m guessing most wedding photographers’ prices) are based on a number of things: the main one is time: I take on a limited number of weddings every year so that I can properly plan each day with my couple, take time to get to know them, spend at least around ten hours with them on the day and edit the collection myself to the point where I feel confident they will be blown away. There is also the equipment that I use to create images that will be worlds apart from the pictures your guests will take: tens of thousands of pounds worth of equipment! There is the on-going training I do every year, to make sure the work I produce gets better and better. There is the cost of my studio, software, insurance and so on. Not everything I spend money on is essential to every photographer, but to me, it allows me to produce the kind of work my clients love.
So do you get what you pay for? Yes. Kind of! There is a reason some photographers charge more than others, but it has to have value to you. If you want something a bit different and special, yes, it will probably cost a little more, but I believe there is a good reason for that. And these images are going to be your family heirlooms; you’re hopefully going to look at them for a long time to come; and they’re going to capture you on the most special day of your lives, looking your most gorgeous. I believe that’s worth going the extra mile for.
But then I would say that, wouldn’t I?
Tune in next time for questions 4 to 6, where we’ll be tackling issues such as timing and those formal groups. In the meantime, if you have any questions you need answered (probably about wedding photography – but I’ll have a go at anything else you want to throw at me) drop me a line.
This blog is pretty new, so if you want to see any recent weddings, the best place right now is probably facebook: www.facebook.com/SamanthaHookPhoto
Til next time, happy wedding planning! xx