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Updated: Nov 4, 2021

At your obligation free, complimentary Design Consultation with West Coast Weddings, we go over in great details the shots you want and any issues that you think we need to know about your family or guests that will be involved. Why you might ask? It’s simple really - group photos can be very stressful, especially if you are on a tight schedule and only have your photographer and videographer for a shorter wedding coverage. It can be like herding cats getting everyone needed in the photo there at the right time - this is why we go over everything well beforehand and put measures in place to make the whole process easier for everyone!

Family photos can be challenging for a host of reasons, but the main are:

  1. Dramas between family members

  2. People disappearing

  3. Lack of time

  4. A badly ordered shot list (NOT on our shoots!)

  5. Impossible Expectations vs Reality

  6. Too many cooks spoil the broth

So here’s how we can make each of potential problems a little bit easier on the day:

1. Dramas between family members: let us know about any potential family members (or others who will be in the photos) who may be uncomfortable or awkward around each other. This might be divorced, separated, blended families etc, or it might be related to some physical or mental health issue that needs to be delicately managed. It might be certain people who are notorious for causing a drama, generally miserable, shy or never smiling at the camera. Whatever you share is totally confidential and between us - but we really do need to know of any family skeletons in order to sensitively manage your shot list on the day. We make a comprehensive list of all the people involved, their relationships etc and design the ideal shot list that will get you the photos you want with the minimum of fuss and keep everyone happy!

2. People disappearing: Crazy but it is pretty much guaranteed to happen! They think they will just duck out to the toilet, or grab a drink and guess what - they are missing in action! Even if your celebrant has made it clear that they should stick around, guests are infamous for not listening or thinking it doesn’t include them. It’s always better if people are informed well before the wedding day of what is expected of them and when they will need to be available for photographs. This can be reiterated at the ceremony - usually when people are congratulating the couple and there may be a big group shot and if necessary people’s names can be called out to ensure they know they are required. Couple this with a designated family member (who knows who everyone involved is) and you’re onto something - they can herd guests in advance and have them ready when the photographer needs them. Another option is not to open the bar until you have finished all the group shots - but this can be inconvenient for those guests not involved in the photos.

3. Lack of time: At West Coast Weddings we give you detailed information at your Design Consultation to enable you to think about the allocation of time for the shot lists you want. This is essential early in your planning so you an incorporate the realistic times required for your photos and any video, into you overall timeline for the entire day, this way you won’t feel rushed when the time comes.

4. A badly ordered shot list (NOT on our shoots!): Not all photographers are logical when they organise their shot lists. You want to minimise the movement of people back and forwards and release people no longer needed so they can go and relax. At West Coast Weddings we design a fully customised shot list as a result of your Design Consultation. We ensure that we take into account an any of the information in item 1 or anyone with special needs (eg young children, pregnant, elderly etc) - and work with that to find the most efficient and least stressful flow to the shot list but still get you the shots you want. We generally work with a large group first, the Family and important Friends second, as they finish they can then go and relax. Next is the Bridal Party shots, and finally the Bride and Groom on their own - sometimes at various locations. It’s not hard to design an efficient shot list - you basically look at who stays in place the most and filter others related around them. Eg say you want photos with your parents and siblings separately and all together. You and your spouse will stay put. Bring in your parents and take a shot, now bring in your siblings and take a shot, now remove your parents and take a shot - and your all DONE!

5. Impossible Expectations vs Reality: Once again, your Design Consultation will cover this in detail. Depending on your desired shot list we will guide you as to how much time you will need to realistically allocate. Obviously the longer and more complicated the shot list is, the more time you will need to allow. The last thing we want is for you to be disappointed in a missed photograph you really wanted or lost opportunities to get some creative shots for you. You need to trust your photographer. We understand what lighting and backgrounds look best. But if your heart is set on a specific background we need to know in advance so we can plan together the best time to get the best light there, or organise artificial lighting if needed. You don’t want harsh sun in your eyes and everyone having to squint. You need to accept that your family photos might seem never ending when you are staying in one spot for ages smiling and dying of thirst (have a bottle of water with a straw available that you can sip on without smudging your lipstick). But you will be so glad you soldiered through it when you see those amazing photos - it’s a small price to pay for precious family memories. Also, be aware that no one can control mother nature, you might have wanted those amazing sunset shots, but it just didn’t go off, or the clouds had other ideas on the day. All the planning in the world can’t always predict what will happen on the actual day - plan for the best, but expect the worst and you won’t be disappointed.

6. Too many cooks spoil the broth: you are paying a professional photographer (and maybe a videographer) to cover your wedding. "Uncle Fred" might think he is an absolute "gun" with his new DSLR on “Auto”(come on - you know we've all got one of these!), or your friends might want to just quickly take that iPhone photo now that your are all nicely organised in position right in front of the professional’s shot. This not only wastes time, that you are paying a professional for, but causes a lot of frustration for everyone, including those in the photograph who now don’t know where to look! Neither the iPhone photo or the professional photo will be any good! Please let your guests know well ahead of time, that you want them to be your "guest" and fully enjoy and appreciate the day and you don’t want anyone except the photographer taking photos - especially during the official portraits. If people start randomly trying to take over on the day and jump into shots or start to hijack them you need to have someone you have given the authority to (it might be your photographer or the “herding cats” family member) who can remind them that you have designed a specific shot list for your wedding and if they have a special photo in mind please wait until the end.

The thing to remember is it is YOUR wedding, you have hired a professional photographer you trust to get you the shots you want in the style you want - so help them get those for you with a minimum of fuss. You will have limited time between the ceremony and reception to get those irreplaceable family photos on your wedding day, and most guests will have no idea what a tight schedule you are on. So a pro active approach to heading off those potential dramas will help things run more smoothly and stress free on the day.


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