how to plan for family portraits | wedding wednesday | huntsville alabama wedding photographer

this week for wedding wednesday i am going to talk about a very touchy subject…family portraits! in all honesty the majority of wedding photographers absolutely dread this part of the wedding day. not because they don’t support their brides wanting images of their family members, but because this is the part of the day that something can go horribly wrong and mess up the remainder of the day! that is so true. i however, love family portrait time. i build a very strong relationship with my brides. we’re friends by the time the wedding day rolls around. we’ve talked about family portraits, the layout of how i work in different groups and single family shots. my brides know exactly what to expect when we start calling out family names at portrait time. there are no surprises…from me.

most of the time, someone is running late or didn’t know what time their side of the family was starting portraits. this is why when i build the timeline, i list out which side of the family we will start with. i tend to start with the bride’s family first so we can get her hidden in time for the ceremony without risking all of her early arriving guests seeing her!

i send out a “suggested” family portrait list and my brides can check mark which images they want included and leave the ones blank that are of no interest to them. there is also a spot to fill out any “additional family portraits” that they would like to take. this area is usually left blank because my brides know that if you include 30 different groupings or setups for family portrait time, that time has to be shaved from somewhere else on the wedding day timeline if they don’t intend on adding wedding day coverage.

for some brides, their wedding day is very family focused. it is more important to them to have all of the family pictures that their heart could ever desire than it is to have a full bridal party portion of their gallery. they want the standard bridal party shots and that’s it. nothing fun, no multiple locations. just the bare minimum. family portraits are just higher on the priority list for them and that’s okay! i just love to know that beforehand.

a few tips and tricks for planning your family portraits at your wedding

  • don’t include the same groupings over and over again
    • example: BRIDE with bride’s immediate family, BRIDE AND GROOM with bride’s immediate family
    • instead of doing both groupings, I suggest choosing one
  • start with the bride’s side!
    • most of her family members are already there either in the bridal party, helping set up or for moral support
    • the bride needs to be hidden before the guests arrive!
    • i’ve used off camera lighting for weddings for a while now. but it is especially useful when you’re shooting a wedding in a dark venue or if it is raining and you can’t go outdoors for portraits
    • controlled light is predictable(photographers) bring off camera lighting for every wedding, even if you don’t use it


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