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Wedding Photography Posing Guide - Part 3, Family Formals
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In this wedding photography posing guide we cover the basics for posing families. When photographing the wedding formals, the part that typically goes the quickest is the family formals. With this group, there tends to be less opportunity for creativity. Some family members may have mobility issues that limit where you can pose them. We typically leave the family formals last so, depending on if the couple was ready on time, you may be in a time crunch. That being said, with a little attention to detail in the posing, you should be able to create quality family formal portraits.

Having a grasp of the family dynamics ahead of time can help with your family posing. In our pre-wedding consultation, I talk to the couple about their families to see if everyone gets along, and is close. It's good to know ahead of time if there is any family tension. You don't want to pose family members next to each other that are quarreling or have not gotten along for years.

When posing small groups, for example the bride and her parents, little changes can give a completely different feel to the portrait. If appropriate, I'll suggest a slight tilt of heads toward one another or the mother's hand placed lightly on her daughter's arm. When photographing a group of three, it often works well to have your subject in the middle square to the camera, and the person on each end angled in slightly. This helps eliminate the firing squad look.

When photographing two people, I prefer them to angle in slightly toward each other. This small change in body language can relax your subjects which in itself, will make a more pleasing portrait. When possible, I encourage women to stand with their weight shifted to the back hip - the one away from the camera. This creates a little bend in the front leg which makes for a nice, slimming line. For a more casual, relaxed look, the gentlemen can place their outside hand, the one closest to the camera, in their pants pocket. This pose works well if the men are wearing a vest with their tuxes because they still have a very polished look with their jacket open. However, an open tuxedo jacket without a vest, may show a shirt in need of tucking which is not a good look!

When posing large groups, for example the bride and all her family, I prefer to photograph at the alter because it typically has two or three steps with which to layer your subjects. So lets say our group is the bride and groom, the bride's parents and her brother and sister which each have spouses and two children. I try to keep the most important people, the parents, next to the couple. From there, I place my taller subjects on the top steps, the shorter in front and the family groups together. So we have the bride and groom on the top step in the middle. Mom next to the bride, the bride's dad next to the groom. I place the bride's brother next to the mother, with his wife and two children one step down. Then repeat the same process on the other side with the bride's sister. The sister's husband by dad and the sister and children one step down. Now it is rare that you will have this balanced of a group. Place your subjects quickly and decisively but don't be afraid to move them if it doesn't look right. One of the main concerns with posing a large group is that you don't want to lose anyone - make sure you can see those faces.

If at all possible, I encourage you to incorporate as much background variety as possible. When the opportunity presents itself, I'll photograph the bride's family in a different location then the groom's. However, there are some indoor, church weddings where you may not have that luxury. In this situation I'll look for areas that I can place smaller groups, two or three people, and then photograph the large groups at the alter. For example, consider an open door way for the smaller groupings. You'll likely have some nice outdoor lighting and a richly paneled door can make for a nice backdrop.

If you're able, take time with your family formals. They may not be the most fun or creative photos of the wedding, but the portraits you create will be treasured by the people in them! Try out the tips in this wedding photography posing guide at your next wedding for great results.


Street Talk

Thanks for the tips! Excellent article.

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  about 9 years ago
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