For Photographers | Quick Tips for perfect Family Formal Photos


Photographing family formals are historically a chaotic time during the wedding day.  The Bride’s brother didn’t know he had to stay, Grandpa went to the bathroom,  some people left who weren’t supposed to.  Let’s be honest, as photographer’s it can be stressful (let alone super stressful for the newlyweds).  Here are a few quick tips for perfect family formal photos:

  1.  Prep the Couple: During your last meeting, be sure to remind them of how crazy this time can get.  Suggest they designate a family member to remind those who need to stay for photos and help wrangle them.  If you don’t have a second shooter with you that day, ask this person if they will help you during this time.  Having an ally who know’s the family helps immensely!  I always ask the couple to compile a list of family formals so that we can help get through this time smoothly and efficiently.


    1. Find the Light:  Is the lighting terrible at the alter?  Ask your couple if they would rather go outside.  Don’t be afraid to speak up – they will appreciate you for it.


    1. Details, Details, Details: As I said before, this time can get a little crazy.  Sometimes the couple gets frustrated with family, sometimes people aren’t paying attention, but don’t forget to take your time.    Quickly scan your family set and make sure no one has keys or phones in their pockets, sunglasses on their head, or even their fly down (it’s happened).  If Grandma has her pocketbook, complement her on our gorg it is and ask he if it would be ok if you hold it for her for a moment.  Remember, these photos WILL be in frames and coveted by many family members.  Slow down and make sure you do it right.


    1. Don’t forget to pose:  Before you click that shutter, make sure everyone looks perfect.  When posing the Bride and Groom, I always joke with them to stay like that and “don’t move no matter what” :) And then I build the family around them.  Next I make sure that all of the people in the photo are connected in some way.  Dad is holding his wife’s arm.  Men’s hands are in their pockets.  Take the extra second to make sure everyone looks polished.


    1. Get them all in: Sometimes you’ll find yourself taking a ginormous family photo, like 100 people. It happens and it’s hard. When starting one of these large photos, I put immediate family around the couple and then tell the rest of the family members to get in wherever they can fit in and try to stay near their immediate family members if possible. Once everyone finds their spot, scan to make sure you can see everyone’s face. I then tell them that if they can’t see me, they won’t be seen in the photo, just to make sure everyone is paying attention.


    1. Just Keep Smiling: Remember, this day is not about you. People may say things that hurt your feelings, some guests or family members may not be super nice, people may be complaining, but remember to keep your smile on. This is much more stressful on your couple than it is you and the vibe you give off radiates on those around you. Keep it light and fun!


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  1. Destinee

    April 6th, 2017 at 5:52 pm

    Great advice! I love your tips posts.

  2. Kristine B

    April 6th, 2017 at 6:21 pm

    Awesome tips! I wholeheartedly agree! These photos are important and you want them done right. Great post!

  3. Rachael Allex

    April 6th, 2017 at 8:59 pm

    Man are you right, family photos are tough! These are great tips!

  4. jenny g

    April 9th, 2017 at 2:00 am

    Fab tips, love these Erin!! XO

  5. Wilbur

    April 10th, 2017 at 12:29 am

    Great advice. Imma take some of these tips as well and add to my routine :). Even tho I haven’t photographed a wedding in a long while.

  6. Natalie

    April 11th, 2017 at 1:09 pm

    Great tips!! Thank you for sharing your knowledge with the photography community. You da best!

  7. Karen

    April 24th, 2017 at 10:09 pm

    great advice! Super great find for newbie ( and let’s face it, Veteran ) wedding photogs! Thanks for sharing!

    love the flower girl high five!