FAQ: Do you do formals?

October 20th, 2011

[Im currently on a two week break whilst Jessica and myself celebrate our anniversary. Meanwhile, please enjoy some pre-prepared posts]

"Hey, Joseph! Wow your pictures are the best pictures I've ever seen! I want to book you right now but I never see any family formals on your blog. Would you be able to take a few group shots at our wedding?"

I'm more than happy to do that for you lovely future-couple.
I usually recommend to my couples who would like some family formals taken to create a small list of people that they'd like in the shots. As a rough guide, I recommend a list of say, 10 shots.
If you both want more then great! It is your wedding after all.

Here is an example of a standard setup.
Start off with a big group shot of everyone if you want.
If it wasn't convenient earlier on in the day, perhaps we could incorporate the confetti shot in there too.
After this is done, I'll encourage all of the guests other than [immediate family, grandparents and the bridal party] to go off, grab a drink and mingle.
If we then move on to the pictures with the grandparents, they won't have to wait around too long for their turn.
We'll gently work our way through the remaining requested group shots.
Parents of bride.
Parents of bride plus brothers and sisters.
Parents of groom...
You get the idea.
We'll be left with just yourselves eventually and if you've got time, we can go off for 15 minutes and have pictures with just yourselves as a freshly married couple!

I encourage my couples to try sticking to a smaller number of group shots because (and I say this at every client consultation, so much so that it feels like a bit of a cliché now) "you don't want your day turning in to a photoshoot, neither do your guests."

Also, with each group, try to keep the numbers down.
10 shots, each with 25 people in isn't much fun.

After you've decided who you'd like in your pictures and put the groups in the right order, I'd love it if you were to email me a copy of that list. I'll keep it on my phone for quick reference.
Unfortunately though, I don't know the names of all your guests...yet, so if that list is also given to each usher they'll help round up any people who have strayed off!

So yes, I take formals, in fact I often quite enjoy them as it gives me a chance to introduce myself to a group of people by name. I like to show to your guests that you've invested in a real life person with a smile rather than a man with a camera attached to his face.
I don't show those pictures on here because I don't feel that set-up family shots reflect my style.
I prefer to show you how I love capturing the day as a fascinating real life story.

A post without pictures is a bit of a bore, so I'll share a few favourites with you now.
Even when the events around you are being scripted, I still like to keep my eye open for the more interesting moments.

I feel like I've answered that question, if you have a question that you'd like answered, drop a comment at the bottom of the page and if it's frequently asked, I may make it a blog post.

  1. Razvan October 20th, 2011 at 5:04 pm

    These are some fun formal shots! It's a great idea to have a list of the formals before the wedding. It saves a lot of time when it comes to photographing them.

  2. Alison Makosz October 20th, 2011 at 7:47 pm

    I am the bride in the 4th shot and i remember this moment so well. My bridesmaid was getting a bit close for comfort. But it really made me laugh and is a memorable moment of the day and i'd much rather this shot that a formal / posed one.
    Our wedding pictures, tell an amazingly accurate story of our day and we did have half a dozen formal shots, but it was more than enough. Joseph's style was perfect!

  3. Kat Braman October 20th, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    these are fantastic!

  4. benj haisch October 20th, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    nice, dude, nice.

  5. Alyssa Schroeder October 21st, 2011 at 12:40 am

    Awesome advice. These "formals" mean so much more than a standard stare at the camera and smile! It shows the family's personalities too.

  6. Daniel October 21st, 2011 at 12:55 am

    These are great formals. Candid and beautiful!

  7. James GIfford-Mead October 21st, 2011 at 7:40 am

    What a great blog post Joseph! Well written and the formals shots look great!

  8. Phill October 21st, 2011 at 8:22 am

    This is a fantastic resource Joseph. What you've got between the look to camera moments is fantastic too. Where posed photography meets genuine documentary.

  9. ALMA October 21st, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    nice one :) and lovely frame too!

  10. Nick October 21st, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    I love formal photos that turn out to not be so formal. Love it!

  11. Sara October 21st, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    Great advice.. and gorgeous photographs :)

  12. matt Stanton October 23rd, 2011 at 8:56 am

    Great advice Joseph, and each frame is excellent!

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