Family Dynamics: A Critical Aspect of Wedding Photography in Larger Weddings

Know What Photographs You Want

Even the most prepared wedding planners — including the men and women who plan their own weddings — often don’t realize that by hiring a me as a professional wedding photographer, they have taken care of the wedding photos, and that the photographs will take care of themselves.

Just like every other aspect of the wedding, the photography should be well planned. As a wedding photographer, it’s impossible to know the dynamics of the family. Obviously, there are a number of photographs that are standard: groom with the groomsmen; the bride with her father; the ring bearer and flower girls; etc. The group shot — everyone together — are the easiest photographs to take. These are always a homerun. Then, of course, there are the candid shots, which are my favorite moments to capture.

However, understanding the appropriateness of certain people together is what transforms your wedding photos into lasting memories. The secret to capturing those wedding photos is understanding who belongs with whom in a photograph.

Only my wedding couples know what relationships within the wedding party they want captured are. This is why it is the responsibility of the wedding couple to make sure the photographer takes the photos they want, not just the ones that seem appropriate to the photographer.

There are three ways to make your wedding photos exactly what you had hoped they would be. This is especially important for destination weddings on Maui — where it often feels like both a wedding party and a family reunion of sorts.

1. Ask for the family shots you want from your photographer.

If you spend a few minutes, sit down, and think about the photographs you want, you will soon discover that there are a certain number of potential photographs you simply can not live without. Again, of course there are the obvious requisites that the photographer will naturally know to take: bride and groom; the bridesmaids and groomsmen; and photographs of both sides of the family.

However, those are not always the best photographs. The dynamics of the family are the storyline. If captured, those storylines illustrate the dynamics of the family as a whole. It is often the photos that illustrate unexpected or unique relationships within a family that turn out the best.

But, again, the photographer generally does not know about them. So, these storylines are what you must write down for the photographer.

For example, if both couples’ grandparents are in attendance, a great shot might be of the two of them, their families and the wedding couple together in a photo. But, if the photographer is not aware of this family dynamic, he or she may not suggest it nor capture it in a photograph.

2. Set aside time for photographs prior to the reception.

More often than not, photographs are an afterthought for wedding attendees. As such, picture sessions are usually difficult to organize. Once the ceremony is over, people generally begin looking for their seats and for alcohol and food and prepare to get the party started. Once that occurs, getting the family photos you want can be a hassle.

That being the case, it is best to organize the photo session between the ceremony and the reception. That is not to say the photographer should not be taking photos from beginning to end, it is just that the formal photos should be taken while everyone is still relatively organized and serious.

It is this formal session for which you want to organize the photographer. The shots you request will help him or her move people quickly, keep the wedding party’s attention by moving fast, and keep everyone attentive as they wait for their names to be called.

3. Get every photograph you can imagine wanting.

In the past, wedding photographers charged for their time and per roll. Because digital photography eliminated the need for film, today an unlimited number of photographs costs just the same as a finite number. In other words, the photographer will naturally take a large quantity of photos of the wedding and the reception, but make certain that you ask for every group photo that you want — small or large.


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