In this fourth and final part of the Basics of Wedding Photography, we’ll talk about shooting group portraits and finally the reception party.

Group Portraits

Group portraits are an important aspect of any wedding. It’s a time where the bride and groom want to create some unique memories of them, their bridal party and, sometimes, close family as well.

Once again, using point form, lets go through some important details to consider:

  • Timing
    The best time to hold your group portrait session is usually right after the ceremony but before the reception party. This period will allow you to photograph the bridal party members when they are still excited and exhilarated by the ceremony but before they’ve become exhausted by the long day.

  • Location
    If you prepared ahead of time, you should know of a good location nearby that can be used for the portrait session. Don’t choose a place too far from the ceremony/reception, as that will just make it inconvenient and tiring for everyone.

    If the bride/groom have no preference then you may want to consider some popular types of locations such as parks, and or areas with old buildings (eg. a university campus). Look for a location that can be used creatively, and has plenty of room to move around. Historical sites like the one below can also be great.

    Bride and groom on location

  • Lens Selection
    Fast lenses which give you great depth of field are usually preferred for portraits. This will allow you to blur out backgrounds and have your subjects pop!

    Consider using a telephoto lens as well if your location has enough room to allow it. These lenses will give you exceptional DOF that can make portraits really stand out.

    This video tutorial shows you how to blur the background for a portrait.

  • Posing
    This is often overlooked. Make sure you have ideas for posing your subjects beforehand, otherwise you may find yourself struggling during the actual shoot.

    Here’s a great resource for posing ideas and inspiration: The Perfect Pose.

  • Photography Style

    A lot of photographers shoot photojournalistically now with less formality compared to the older style of shooting mostly posed photos. Both styles can work great, but the most important thing is to make sure everyone is relaxed.

    A good wedding photographer puts his subjects at ease, which will translate into great photos. Crack a joke, say something funny, whatever it takes to help the group enjoy their special day.

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    If you’re shooting photojournalistically, look for interesting unique moments that will tell a story. Funny juxtapositions of different elements can make compositions more interesting and memorable as well.

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Reception & Party

The reception is the culmination of all the events of the big day. Different weddings have different types of receptions, you might have a big party or a more subdued event. Whichever it is, be prepared with a wide angle lens and a zoom lens as you’ll need to be versatile in catching many types of moments.

You’ll be expected to shoot the obvious aspects of the wedding so remember to think ahead again and prepare yourself. Expect many of the guests to also move into your line of view as they capture their own photos themselves. Some of the most common events you may see are:

  • The bridal party entrance into the reception hall:
    Keep your flash primed as you will usually need extra light to catch the moving subjects in halls. With ceilings being so high, you will likely have little opportunity to bounce the flash, so a white reflector card will be very handy.

  • The speeches:
    Consider using a telephoto lens to capture the speakers. Groomsmen often come up to speak in a group, so you should be ready to switch to a wide angle lens if needed.

  • First dance:
    A telephoto is useful here to catch a tearing bride or father of the bride. Once the bride and groom begin their first dance though, look to capture the fun and excitement with a wide angle lens. There is often a nice chandelier above the dance floor which can be captured well with a wide angle lens.

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  • Cake cutting:
    A wide angle is great to shoot a full body photo of the bride and groom posing with their cake.

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In general, make sure you move around and capture as many of the guests as possible at least once. If it’s a dinner-like event, remember to make your rounds of all the tables and take at least one picture of each group. Some guests can also make some interesting photos if you’re just able to find it.

Since you’ll be mainly indoors, you may need to consider using your flash for a lot of the photos, unless you’re camera can handle high ISOs well.

If there’s any dancing later in the evening, try turning off your flash and using any of the colourful ‘disco lights’ as you main source of lights. You might find yourself getting some fun and colourful photos.


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So there you have it. We’ve covered the Basics of Wedding Photography and hopefully you will find these tips helpful in becoming successful in your business.

The 4 blog posts for the Basics of Wedding Photography can be found here: