Wedding panorama portrait at the Scansonia Ferry.
The wedding of Kelly and Shaun, Skansonia Ferry, 2008

Seattle wedding photographer Taking Group Portraits

Seattle wedding photographers Taking group Portraits

As a wedding photographer, I sometimes run into a number of situations at weddings that present an obstacle to my taking a really good large group photograph of the wedding party or family portrait. Nowadays at weddings it seems every wedding guest brings along their own little point and shoot digital camera to capture every moment of the event for themselves. Everybody wants to be a photographer. The majority of photographs I make at weddings are candid unposed shots of real moments as they unfold. Most of the time I have no problem with wedding guests taking pictures around me during the day unless they are jumping up directly in front of my camera to take a photo of the bride and groom just as they come marching down the aisle. That has actually happened a couple of times and is something I still can't get a kick out of. But often at a number of weddings every year, while I am making the few formal group photographs of the wedding party and family portraits, friends or other family members with their own little digital camera, want to stand right next to me, or off to one side or another, as they attempt to get the photo I have just arranged. There is often a lot of stress at that moment since we are on a very tight schedule, very often running way behind the schedule (I often find myself reassuring the bride just about then “Don’t worry. They can’t start the wedding without you!). Usually these formal posed portraits are taken just before the time guests begin to arrive for the wedding ceremony. It is tricky to stop and explain why I do not want anyone else around with cameras. I try as diplomatically as possible to plead to them to stop. Do they? Often they pretend to not hear me or ignore me or act offended if they do acknowledge my entreaties. Later, during the reception, some of these people come up and tell me they think the reason I didn't want them taking a photo then was because I was afraid of losing revenue from print sales or that I was feeling jealous. That is not the case. My business model does not depend upon after wedding print sales. The reason is that I want everyone in my posed group photo to be all looking in the same direction - at me. When several cameras are pointing at a group of people posing for a picture, it is natural for some people to look off to the left at one camera, some off to the right at another camera, and the rest will be looking at my lens. When the photograph is later printed large enough to really see it, everyone looking off in different directions has a disconcerting psychological effect on the viewer. To these guests off to the side with their own cameras, the photo they think they see me making is just a photo of a group of people. The picture I am actually trying to make though, is of a set of pairs of eyeballs and I want to photograph all of them looking directly at my lens. Nothing destroys a good group photo more than if some are looking off right, some to the left, and some right at the lens on my camera. A print of a group picture is most satisfying when every set of eyes is looking directly at the viewer of the photograph. Anything else is a reject photo when it comes time for editing after the wedding. The best strategy I have discovered is to try to politely ask them to wait until after I have finished my shot, and then they can take their turn. Amazingly, this actually works sometimes. When I shoot, I always make multiple shots of each group to insure that there is at least one frame with no half closed eyes caught as people blink. When I am finally done I signal to them that they can rush in and take their turn. That way we all get a good picture, and everyone is happy as long as it doesn't put us too far behind the schedule. (Never make the wedding planner or the church ladies angry by holding up the start time of the ceremony. They never forget.) The aspiring photographers should keep in mind that the bride and groom have hired a professional photographer at great expense to make their wedding photographs so as to ensure sure that their wedding album will end up looking great. If they really need to get their own print of the photo, they can get a copy of my picture from the wedding couple later. If they insist on to making their own version,they need to be patient and wait a little until I have finished making the photo for the bride and groom. That way the stress will subside and we can all enjoy the wedding. Daniel is a Seattle wedding photographer. His Seattle wedding photography is created in an artistic, editorial fashion with classic photojournalistic style. He photographs weddings using a subtle, unobtrusive, story-telling approach and creates artistic documentary wedding photojournalism. Photographs by Seattle Editorial Photographer and Seattle photojournalist Daniel Sheehan. In addition to weddings, Daniel specializes in portraits and photojournalism for publications and corporations.