I hated it. It was an awful experience. It was the middle of July, it was very hot and the guests just want to find some shade, sit down and enjoy the wedding day. The Bride and Groom were adamant that they wanted all 30 family formals doing and after the ‘everyone whose surname begins with an ‘S’ and was born on a Tuesday’ shot was done – the formals were complete.
My couples book me for my documentary style of wedding photography, with most of my couples not wanting to be standing around for ages having formal photographs – and because I can only be in one place at a time, if you have 3 pages of family formals it will mean I won’t be able to get the candid images of you and your guests enjoying themselves.
Family formal shots with me are 20 minutes, a small list of between 4-8 main shots which will cover all the important people who are with you on your wedding day.
Darren + Sharon plus Darren’s immediate family
Darren + Sharon plus Darren’s parents
Darren + Sharon plus Daz and Shaz’s parents
Darren + Sharon plus Sharon’s immediate family
Darren + Sharon plus bridesmaids
Darren + Sharon plus Best Man & Ushers
This is a tricky one and I would only suggest you do an ‘Everyone’ group shot if there is space at the venue for your guests to be on steps/stairs, a place where they can be layered so everyone can be in the photo, or a place where I can get high up to shoot down on the group. These photos tend to take around 10-15 minutes to get setup – so please factor this in to the timings of your day and the other group shots that you would like capturing.
Before you confirm your family formals with me, have a quick chat, text, facetime, or Facebook message with your parents; they might like to add some suggestions for some family formals, and it’s best to have these conversations before the wedding.
If you know that there are going to be some family formals which include ‘family politics’ that’s all fine, every family has its family members who don’t get along – just let me know as best you can the people who might not get along, and we can arrange the formals so things don’t ‘kick off’!!
I tend to do the formal photos following 15-20 minutes of mingling after the ceremony. I tend to let you guys have 15 minutes of greeting people, thanking people and hugging people before we start the family formals.
Depends. Honestly, it does. The majority of wedding ceremonies are completed between 12-3pm often when the sun is at its highest and also its most harsh.
If the sun is very bright and you have your heart set on a particular location, it might be that we wait for the sun to soften in the early evening before we do the family formals.
If you just want to get the family formals done, I will advise you guys on the day where the best place will be unless we have gone through this before the wedding.
It’s best to nominate a couple of friends who can help in rounding up the guests and it’s best to make sure that the nominated people know the majority of the people in your family formal shots. This should mean less waiting around for you guys as we can get the formals done much quicker with help.
There are going to be people looking at other people (often with mobile phones), there might be a slanted smile, there might even be a sneeze – so just go with the flow!
If you are interested in my relaxed, unposed, natural, candid, documentary wedding photography – please get in touch
In this video, I talk about having an unplugged wedding, how to go about having an unplugged wedding and which part of a wedding day works best for being unplugged.
Ultimately, there is no right or wrong here, it’s totally down to you; I have seen plenty of weddings where mobile’s, IPads and phones have been used during a wedding ceremony and it’s been fine.
However, I have seen people watch the whole wedding ceremony through their phone, I have seen and heard other photographers clicking away with their loud cameras, and I have seen people step out in front of the Bride and her Father as they are walking down the aisle.
Don’t worry about getting an image for your Instagran / Snapchap or whatever they are called.
Be a guest, relax and enjoy the wedding, be present and experience the love of two people and if you must get a shot do so with the knowledge that you might ruin a perfect moment.
If you feel the need to film the ceremony on your phone do so only after you have checked that it is ok with the happy couple and try and not be in the eye-line of the photographer, so you do not get in the back of important shots.
Also, if you do take a picture, don’t instantly upload the picture to socials, some couples want to see the evening guests without them having already seen the dress!
Whether you choose to have an unplugged wedding or not, I will still be working my butt off to get the images that tell the story of your day, every tear, every joyous hug and every different type of mobile…
Something that I have a responsibility for as a paid photographer is back-ups and data storage.
I personally do not believe an image exists unless it is in a minimum of three different places and one of those is off-site – I’m constantly worried that a hard drive will go down and I will lose photos and data.
For all my wedding work I have the photos on my iMac, I have them on a DROBO (5 hard drives with data redundancy), I have them on an external hard drive and I have them stored in the cloud using two different providers – I think I have enough coverage to mean I won’t have a problem if something goes wrong…
But what about you guys?
I offer everyone an online secure gallery for 12 months, and this can be extended for £25 a year (with the benefit of having access to print services direct from your wedding galleries). I always tell my wedding couples to upload copies of their wedding photos to an online storage vault.
Most email providers offer a certain amount of free storage – a free google drive account offers 15 gb of data which is more than enough to store copies of your wedding photos.
It doesn’t take long to copy the contents of your wedding galleries to your hard drive and then upload them to a free secure vault – it couldn’t be easier and it’s free!
It’s best to be safe than sorry!
Sometimes I like to change up my wedding disco photography – I normally shoot the disco part of weddings with a single handheld flash triggered from a godox trigger with the camera zone focused to around 2 meters I then get close and start shooting!
But sometimes depending on the venue, or the type of wedding I like to rig up a couple of Godox AD 200’s on light stands and get some directional lighting going on. It can be a little more hit and miss due to the fact that you can only shoot in certain directions unless you want the lights flaring into the lens.
In the shot above you can see the light I have rigged to the left has lit one of the ‘ravers’ perfectly and the light to the right has added a kick to the back of the bride and a few of the other ‘groovers’. The trick with this type of set-up is to wait until the ‘partygoers’ are in the zones of the off camera flash and then fire away.
In the above shot, I am still shooting with the same ‘cross lighting’ but using the light over my shoulder to light her up making sure that I am not getting the light on the right-hand side in the shot.
The settings for this type of off-camera flash does vary depending on the venue, the ambient lights and sometimes the guests. I normally have a flash set to the side of the band or DJ with the other flash directly opposite so they are facing each other.
For the camera settings; I tend to want the only light in my camera to come from the flash so I set my camera to eliminate all ambient light. The above image was shot 1/100th of second, F5 and ISO 160. These settings mean that I get enough depth of field, the ISO is nice and low so perfectly clean and the shutter speed was set to make sure I didn’t get any light streaks from the disco lights.
The flash power is trial and error to start with but after a few frames it’s easy to dial in the correct power – I always start at 32nd power which means I can increase or decrease the power of the flash, all of which is done using the Sony Godox XPRO-s trigger.
I tend to shoot for around 30 minutes with this set-up and often at the start of the disco / live music because the dance floor is not busy. The main problem with this off camera set-up is people blocking the flash. If the dance floor is really busy then its difficult to get clean flash on people and you can end up with very heavy shadows often partial shadows – these images can still work, but the busier the dance floor the more difficult it becomes.
When the dance floor becomes too busy, I switch over to my other wedding disco photography setup – I did a blog post about it found HERE
Hopefully, this gives you an idea of how you can improve or add something to your wedding disco photography – I’d love to see your results – drop me a link!
A few weeks ago I had an article published by Camera Jabber where I discussed my early thoughts on moving from photographing weddings using Fujifilm X Series cameras to the Sony Alpha cameras – mainly the Sony A9.
I will be writing several articles over the course of the next few months with Camera Jabber and one will be a further update on the move from Fujifilm to Sony.
To have a read of the first article – head on over to https://camerajabber.com/fuji-wedding-photographer-why-i-swapped-to-sony/