Large bridal parties make for really fun photographs but it sure is tough to manage that many people – and in a very limited amount of time!! As the professional photographer, you must quickly pose everyone, get your lighting right and make it fun!
Here are some tips to make the most of the bridal shoot:
- Plan your poses ahead of time. This doesn’t mean you can’t go with the flow if new poses come to you. Do a little research, pin several poses or print off a few to refer to that day. That way if your mind goes blank, you will have a reminder. I personally print off a piece of paper with several poses but you can also keep them on your phone using Pinterest.
- Make sure you’ve set the expectations with the bride ahead of time. If she only gives you 30 minutes for formals, has a large family and large bridal party, make sure she knows it’s not enough time to get the fun poses she hopes for. Managing expectations is an important part of your job as a wedding photographer.
- Don’t try to go it alone. Bring an assistant to help with the lighting and posing. An assistant can look for problems that you may not see while you are busy posing.
- Be bossy but fun and friendly! Getting 15 people to listen to you is not easy! But it’s a wedding so it’s your responsibility to make things as much fun as possible! I have little things I say: To the groom if his fingers are on the bride’s waist: “Are you married to this woman? I want your hand right on her rear end!” They laugh and I don’t have those little fingers darting out. To the groomsmen, “It’s just not the time and place to have your hands on your privates”. To the bridesmaids, “Ladies, lower the bouquets. Soft arms are pretty arms.” If you are new, start writing things down that you might say. Writing things down helps you remember.
- Bring a big light or multiple speedlights. To evenly light 15 or more people, one little speedlight is not going to cut it. And don’t even get me started on using natural light! You will need to find some really perfect open shade, which is very unlikely at a wedding.
- Stagger the heads for pleasing poses.
We usually start with traditional poses. Two speedlights, one on each side, pointing in a bit. Camera set for background.
We do at least two poses here: everyone looking at the camera and then everyone looking at the bride and groom as they kiss. If you can vary the poses slightly without moving the people much, you can give the client more beautiful photographs. Two speedlights, camera set to background for the blue sky.
Get in closer! Closer! Closer!! You have to really push the people sometimes. While you are smiling of course!
Two speedlights on manual, RF trigger, camera metered and set for the background.
Rain forces you to come up with more ideas.
Pouring rain forced us to look for pretty areas to photograph.
7. Ask the bride and groom if they have anything in mind. The following poses were ideas that came from the clients.
The ladies came up with this pose!
Put your own spin on the pose to make it your own. The bride came up with having the ladies stand behind her. I had the bridesmaids put up their bouquets.
Open poses work really well with large bridal parties.
The groomsmen came up with this pose.
8. Use props and whatever you have around!
This country club had the perfect stairway for this pose.
They brought their own props.
This is an oldie when selective coloring was in style. 🙂 I looked down, saw that huge bouquet and this pose popped into my mind.
This porch was awesome for an open pose!
9. Network with other wedding photographers in your area and assist often! Watch how they manage the people and situations. I assisted different photographers at least a couple times a year well into my 11th year in business. I worked for free so they loved it. I made new friends who continue to refer business to me, and I learned first hand by watching them.
Stagger the people and have fun! Two speedlights.
Another porch, another pose!
Mix fun poses with traditional poses.
Encourage the group to be as silly as possible for some poses!
Photographer, instructor and speaker.
Peggy Farren is an award winning, professional photographer, author, instructor and speaker. She’s been interviewed and featured on TV and in many national and local publications.
Peggy is the host of The Understand Photography Show, where we teach about travel, nature and fine art photography. Subscribe to our Podcast or Youtube channel for new videos every Tuesday and Saturday!