Family pictures on your wedding day can be one of the most memorable heirlooms you accumulate in your life.
What other time can you remember when everyone is dressed up, happy, all together in the same room . . . AND there’s a professional photographer in the room? All these elements combined create the prime opportunity to create family heirlooms. Photographs that, hopefully, will be passed down to your children & grandchildren.
My goal as a wedding photographer is to deliver photographs that will still be hanging on the wall 100 years from now.
There’s just one caveat: Pictures that are considered family heirlooms don’t “just happen”. They are created. They are orchestrated. With a little bit of planning & communication, you really can walk away from your wedding with some of the most valuable images of your life.
In my experience, there are 5 important elements to orchestrating beautiful heirloom family portraits:
1. Plan Ahead With Your Photographer: At the same time you book your photographer, communicate which family members you’d like photographed. (Have it be one of the first conversations you have with your photographer.)
2. Remember That Less Is More: In this case, doing less more thoroughly will wield the best results. Here’s some suggestions on how to do that:
* Plan for just 7 – 10 family “groupings”
* Allot each “grouping” approximately 5-7 minutes each.
* Limit your family portraits to your immediate family. Anything more than that, and you’re allotting up to two hours for family portraits and you run the risk of people getting impatient & irritated.
* Remember to be patient with the process: If you want posed, elegant family pictures (instead of just lining people up), then plan for the extra time for this; remember that most people don’t get their pictures taken professionally, so it takes some time for this to happen well.
3. Plan Ahead With Your Family: Communicate ahead of time with the family members who will be photographed. Explain expectations for punctuality, dress, and cooperation with the photographer. As soon as you tell them how important this is to you, everyone will be on board and do whatever it takes to give the bride & groom what they want!
4. Appoint A Person In Charge: Rounding up family members for portraits can sometimes feel like trying to give 9 cats a bath. Especially if you have some rambunctious siblings who’d rather be hanging out at the cocktail hour than waiting for their pictures! You don’t want to be the “go to” person on the day of your wedding. Appoint a cousin, a bridesmaid, or an Aunt to do the dirty work of wrangling straying family members and keeping people on schedule.
5. Daylight Hours Only: Family portraits must be done in daylight hours, with a lot of great light. You do not want to do these with flash photography or a dark setting. Pick a location that has a lot of window light & plan for it during the daytime hours. That means if you’re having an evening wedding, you’ll want to consider doing all your family portraits before the ceremony to capture the daylight. And the benefit of this is that you can go straight to your cocktail hour or reception and enjoy your guests!
And . . . finally, my last tip is this: The more planned and orchestrated you are, the less stress is in the room. Which means more time for fun and spontaneous memories like this:
And this . . .
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