Family formals are a must-have in the world of wedding photography. The bride and groom have invited their core family members to share their special moments with, and it is your job to create images that are memorable and unique. To ensure that you create dynamic images each time you shoot the family, we’ve provided the 5 ways you can spice up your family formals and get through them as efficiently as possible.

1. Create a List

Reach out to your couple a few weeks before the wedding to discuss who they would like included in these portraits. From here, you can create a list of how many family formals shots there will be and which members of the family are in each one. The list should be as specific as possible to ensure that the entire process runs smoothly. Remember that every family is different! Just as you may select a unique Color Profile for each job you send to ShootDotEdit for color corrections, be sure that the list is unique and tailored to fit the needs of your current bride and groom.

Tip: After your couple provides you with the family formal list, review it to make sure there is enough time in the schedule to take these photos. If not, it is a great opportunity for you to educate your couple on how much time you need to ensure you can get through their entire list.

2. Organize the Family

If the family photos occur right after the ceremony, see if the officiant can announce for all family members to stay in the area. Have your second shooter be in charge of gathering the family members that are in each portrait. This way, you can focus on photographing while a trusted member of your team is organizing the family. Keep in mind that smaller groups may take 1-2 minutes to shoot and larger groups may take up to 5 minutes each. By having each group ready ahead of time, you can transition from group to group and minimize the total time for these portraits. Family portraits are a great memory, but keep in mind that your couple and their families will be eager to get to the reception.

Tip: Give your second shooter the family formal list before the wedding. Have them review and become familiar with it so they can successfully call out names and gather the family members for you.

Related: Find out what the best images are to take throughout the wedding day shoot, plus how to get them published, with our Free Guide!

3. Keep the Background Simple

While the couple will prep you with a list of all the family members to photograph, they are going to leave the creativity up to you. You want a nice backdrop for these images, but remember to keep it simple. The main focus of these images is the family, so select a background with minimal distractions. When shooting outdoors, there can be many background elements that are distracting to the shot. Try blurring out the background to ensure the focus is on the bride, groom, and their families. If you are shooting indoors, find a background that has complementary colors to the main colors the bride and groom selected for their wedding.

4. Be Personable

Setting yourself apart as a wedding photographer will make an impact on your clients and the experience they have with you. Ask the bride and groom to provide you with the names of each family member that is in each of the portraits. Learn these names so that you can call each person out by their name, instead of referring to them as a particular family member. Rather than calling for the “mother of the bride,” you can call her by her first name. People are much more responsive when you call them by name and are more likely to cooperate. It also shows that you care about everyone in the family, not just the bride and groom.

Related: Discover a 10-step process to successfully onboard your second shooter in your business

5. Group Everyone Together

Your couple will cherish their wedding images for years to come. While these are formal shots, remember that they are family! Have the family members get close to each other so there are no gaps between each person. Position the family so that their arms and shoulders are touching one another. You know what looks best for photos, so be sure to rearrange the family so that they look their best. Remember, you want to show how much the whole family loves one another, not stiff pictures that look forced.

Bonus Tip: Get Them to Laugh

While it is important to capture the traditional wedding photography poses, some of the best memories are through candid photos. You’ve done a great job getting them to smile, now it’s time to do something to make them laugh. Have each member of the family make funny faces at each other, tell jokes, or create funny poses. This should be an easy task because they are family – once you get them started, you may not be able to stop them!

Now that you have the top 5 tips to spice up your family formals, start thinking more about what poses you should use in your next shoot. For tips and tricks to effectively posing for the wedding day, access our Posing for the Wedding Photographer Guide!


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