Many people these days are looking for a “reportage” style photographer. Someone who will unobtrusively capture the emotion and individual moments of the day. But what do you do about group shots? Often parents and grandparents would still like them, even if you don’t, so most couples have a few. How much time do you need to allow during the day for group photos if you chose to have them, remembering that the time when you are having photos taken is time when you are not with your guests at your reception.
Timings at weddings are notoriously difficult. It is very rare for a wedding to run to time. Something always takes longer than expected - getting everyone from the church to the venue perhaps, or maybe the bride is running a little late to begin with. Sometimes the day overruns because the photographer is running late. This can be because group shots take quite a lot of time to do and often not enough time is allocated for them when scheduling the day.
So lets think about the family group shot with say 25 people. Your Aunt has gone to sit down as she is tired, your sister's children are running around the garden, your mother has gone to use the bathroom. How long is it going take to find everyone and get them into position? This can take quite a while. Once everyone is in position the photographer will also need to make sure the dress looks perfect and everyone is standing correctly and looking their best. So you can see that it would be unrealistic to think you could have eight group photos taken in five minutes - at less than a minute per image it would be very difficult to get everyone in the right place and looking fabulous.
In terms of timings I would say allow 15-20mins for the group photos. Do remember that this is for informal group shots. If you are looking for staged, lit, and styled images, with people strategically placed using props, like a fashion shoot, then these may well take longer.
It would be helpful for your photographer to have a list of the groups shots you are looking for before the wedding as it will help them to plan those images such as where people will stand in advance so they take as little time as possible.
As for the portraits of the two of you, again it depends what you are looking for. Relaxed, natural photographs of you both in a few locations should take no more than 20mins. But if you are looking at a large number of locations and/or a greater degree of styling and setting up then they will of course take longer.
Having your portraits taken can be a very special time for a bride and groom. Other than your car journey after your ceremony, if you have one, it can the only time you have to be together and relatively alone throughout the whole day. Your photographer should understand that you may want a few private minutes to say important things to each other. They should be sensitive to this and stand back so they cannot hear you at some point during the shoot. They can still get beautiful photographs when they do this but it will give you a bit of much needed privacy and time for reflection.
I have recently moved to The Cotswolds from London. Whilst I am still working in London I am starting to photograph more weddings here. Some of them are very different to London venues, with large gardens and rolling countryside nearby and they are all very beautiful. There are some absolutely fantastic wedding venues in The Cotswolds and if you decide to get married here you will be spoilt for choice.
I have only been here for six months and I’m sure over the next few months I will discover other fantastic venues, but for now here are my top five. They vary from traditional, elegant country houses to barns you can decorate in any way you please. They are all incredible in their own way and they also all offer beautiful opportunities for photography. Wherever you chose you will not be disappointed.
1. Barnsley House
In the South Cotswolds, not far from the beautiful village of Bibury and Cirencester town lies the little village of Barnsley and within it Barnsley House. This is a quintessentially English country house hotel set in landscaped gardens. At Barnsley House they manage to perfectly blend the traditional with all the contemporary facilities you could wish for, including a spa. Exclusive hire of the house (18 bedrooms) is available and this together with the exceptional service make it the perfect venue for an intimate wedding. The truly magnificent gardens designed by Rosemary Verey offer many places for fabulous photography including a Gothic Summer House and a Temple.
2. Dormy House
Nestling in the hills in the North Cotswolds and close to the town of Broadway is the relatively newly opened Dormy House. It has a stylish home from home feeling, where nothing is too much trouble. The hotel is relaxing not least because the whole house (38 rooms) is always yours should you choose to get married there. They also have a fabulous spa. With plenty of beautiful countryside on the doorstep photography can take place in the gardens or for the more adventurous in the open countryside itself.
3. Cowley Manor
Close to Cheltenham Cowley Manor is a perfect choice for a relaxed stately home wedding. Although its Italianate architecture and imposing columns are very traditional Cowley Manor is much more of a designer hotel than a country house. With 30 contemporary rooms, seasonal food and a beautiful spa (with indoor and outdoor pools) it is the ideal place for couples looking for a sophisticated but fun place to get married. Its 55 acres of grounds, with woodland and lake make a stunning backdrop for your photographs.
4. Oxlease Barn
A restored barn on a working farm in Oxfordshire this is a very peaceful place to get married. Whilst the barn itself is beautiful you can personalise it with anything from pretty and vintage to elegant and formal, enabling you to create your own unique wedding space. With a lovely courtyard, pond and rolling fields, photography here can take in all the beautiful Cotswold landscape has to offer.
5. Calcot Manor
It can sometimes be difficult to find a stylish venue for your wedding if you have young children. You still want an elegant day but you also want your children to have a good time. For those people with children who are still looking for a sophisticated place to get married Calcot Manor could be just the place. Although the fine dining and spa appeal to adults, when children are brought along their needs are given the same amount of attention. With stylish rooms, high tea, an all day crèche and babystitting facilities everyone is made to feel welcome meaning you can enjoy your wedding day knowing your children will be having fun too. The beautiful gardens with views of the rolling hills behind will provide a lovely backdrop for your wedding pictures.
Many couples these days are not looking for the stiff formal photography of weddings past. They are looking for natural images that capture the emotion and special moments of the day. However, often they and their family are also looking for a few group photographs from the day. So how do you ensure that these posed images fit in with the rest of your wedding photographs?
If you are having a more traditional photographer, one who poses everyone for every shot anyway, the any very formal group images will work well with these. Their style will work together and they will not look out of place in your album.
However, if you are having a more natural type of wedding photography then do make sure you look at your photographers posed images within their wedding albums.
Group images can be fun and relaxed. There is no need for formal line ups. Your photographer might suggest that some of you sit down, that you might lean on shoulders, kick your heel up perhaps, whisper something naughty. But they will still be paying attention to the details. They might make sure the mens shirt cuffs are showing, the brides dress is perfect and that you are all standing in a way that flatters you and makes you feel good. If you are feeling a little awkward then they should be able to help you relax and enjoy the moment. After all if you feel good you take a much better photograph than if you feel awkward and uncomfortable.
Sometimes the best photographs are taken when everyone thinks the camera is switched off so don't worry if your photographer keeps on photographing once they have said that they have stopped. Those images, where you hug your best friend or kiss your father can make the best group shots anyway.
Group photographs take time. Six group images can take about 20-25 minutes depending on how quickly people come when they are asked. If you have more time allocated for these then I would suggest leaving the number of group photos at six or so but using that time to be more creative. Go to a different/better location, use props etc. Your photographer should be able to advise you when you speak with them and help you get group shots that fit in with the style of wedding photography you are having and that you will still want in your album.
Here are a few group shots that are fun and relaxed, without being too contrived and which have made it into albums as part of the treasured memories of the day.
One of the things most couples look forward to after their wedding is looking through their wedding images. It is exciting and emotional to relive the day. Hopefully you will be pleased with them and they will remind you of what a wonderful wedding you had.
There are a few photographers who will chose most of the images for your album for you. They will say that they know what images to best use to make the best story of your day. Some photographers will let you chose everything yourself and some will suggest that you chose the ones you have to have and let them fill in the gaps with what works best. In the latter two instances you will need to chose perhaps 80 images out of say 600 from the day. Here are some tips to help you get the images you want in your album.
1. Divide (not necessarily physically) the images into sections of the day eg getting ready, the ceremony, the group shots, portraits of the bride and groom, reception, speeches, dancing. Based on the number of images in your album you will then know roughly how many images you can have in each section ie 11. These can change for example you might only want 3 group images and 19 from the reception but it gives you a starting point.
2. Look through the images in each section together and chose the images you MUST have - perhaps three from each section. The ones that you think your album would not be complete without. For example the best three portraits of the two of you, the group shots you love, the ceremony images that really move you. Try to agree on the three, if you cant then chose two each.
3. At this point you can stop if you want to. You can tell your photographer that you have your 40 must haves and they can chose the rest. If they do this then they should let you swap or revise your album once so if you want to swap out Granny on page 6 for a different Granny photo, or swap a portrait of the two of you then you will be able to do so. If you want to chose them all then read on…
4. Look at each section again and see what kind of images they are. For example are all of your ceremony photos close up, ie of faces or hands. Do you have any images of friends and family from the ceremony, or photographs of the whole venue? If not then you might want to include some of those. You might love some images but they are too similar to others to include. See my list below for some more ideas. Once you have chosen 3 more in each section (or perhaps you don't want any more portraits and have chosen extra reception photos instead) step back.
5. Allow at least a day if not a few more before you look at them again. You might have 10 or 15 you still need to chose. Look at each section in turn. Do you have enough getting ready ones, if so move on to the ceremony. Look at the images you have already chosen. Are there any left that show a different angle, different people etc. Skip the reception section. Once you have gone through all of the other sections you will know how many you will have for people from the reception and you can chose the rest.
This whole process might take a while - a couple of weeks. Even photographers take time and make alternations when they design albums for people. Remember you can always ask your photographer for help. If you take your time and look at them together you will end up with the images you both really love and the perfect album for you.
Some images you might want to consider including:
Putting make up on, having your hair done, photographs of bridesmaids getting ready, photographs of the bride with her mother and/or father, the groom pinning on his button hole, the dress/shoes/flowers etc
The bride walking in, the groom waiting and his face when the bride arrives, exchange of rings, readings, first kiss, signing of the register, walking back once married, in the car
Couples portraits and groups - the ones you like the best
Speeches, friends having fun, bride and groom with friends and family, the venue and details of the venue, flowers, chairs, food, cake, the whole venue/gardens etc
This is a brief guide to help you find the right wedding photographer for you.
Choosing a wedding photographer can be very daunting. The cake has been eaten, the honeymoon enjoyed and the dress packed away into a beautiful box underneath your bed. Your wedding day is over all too quickly. One of the only ways to relive all those wonderful moments from your special day is by looking through your wedding album. This is why it is so important that you have a photographer who can truly capture your wedding in the way that you want to remember it.
There are many things to consider when choosing a photographer: the style of photographs you are looking for, the cost, packages, reprints, albums… the list goes on. Here are my top five tips to help you get started.
1. I would recommend choosing a professional photographer. Of course some people who have full time jobs and shoot weddings at weekends will do a great job but in terms of wedding photography, which it is difficult to do-over should disaster happen, I think it is best not to take any chances. A professional photographer will have photographed many weddings so you can have confidence that they will get yours right too (they will be fully insured just in case). They will also have the time to dedicate to checking out venues, processing your images promptly etc.
2. Look at photographer’s portfolios online to see if you like their style of photography. Don't worry too much about words just look at the photos to see what you like. If you are looking for relaxed, unposed images then obviously discount any photographer whose portfolio is full of posed group shots.
3. Always ask to see albums of an entire wedding rather than the best images from lots of weddings. That way you will have a better idea of what the photographs of your wedding will look like.
4. When comparing prices on line make sure you compare like for like. For example if one photographer offers an album and the other a dvd that is not the same thing at all - it takes days to put a bespoke album together and there are wholesale printing costs to consider so it is likely to be more expensive.
5. Always meet with your potential photographer. If you like the albums they have put together of other people’s weddings and you like them too then the chances are you will like what they will do for you.
More to follow on what to ask when you meet potential photographer and how to choose images for your album...
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