Tips for New Wedding Photographers | Family Photo Timing

Photographing your first few solo weddings isn’t easy, regardless of how many times you played the role of assistant or 2nd-shooter.  One really good way to help ease the stress a new wedding photographer can experience is by ensuring that the amount of time devoted to wedding photos is appropriate for you to deliver the quality and service that your client expects from you.  There is no world-wide rule regarding the amount of time that is necessary for family and formal photos; however, the more experience you get the better you’ll become at estimating the needs for every wedding, no matter how non-traditional or unique their special day may be.

If your bride is left to her own devices to make her wedding day schedule, I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that she won’t schedule in nearly enough time to take all the photos she’s requesting.  The best way to ensure that your clients are allotting enough time in the day for their photographic requests to be met is to provide your clients with adequate resources early on in your relationship.  Whether you direct them to a blog article, type up your own paper insert for them or simply speak to them in person, you must inform your clients of the amount of time they need to give you in order for you to complete the job they are requesting you to do.

So what can happen if a bride underestimates the amount of time she needs for family photos?

  • If the schedule of the day isn’t yet set in stone, she may choose to find more time to accommodate the photos.  Whether that means moving the ceremony ahead (if possible) to create more time in between the ceremony and reception or simply taking your wedding photos before the ceremony, there are always options if your schedule is still flexible.
  • If the schedule of the day cannot change, she may have to decrease the amount of combinations of photos she wants.  Keeping your family photos simple can really help improve the efficiency of a family photography session.
  • If the schedule of the day cannot be changed and the bride refuses to change the number of groupings then… well, then your bride is just being unreasonable and that’s a whole other can of worms to deal with.  (That’s an entirely different blog post.)

Although every family is different and has unique needs that have to be accommodated to, if you are a good photographer, you should be able to tell your clients how much time they should budget for for family photos.  The general rule I follow is:

Groups of 2 :   3 minutes per grouping

Groups of 3-10:   5 minutes per grouping

Groups of 10-20:   10 minutes per grouping

Groups of 20+:   15 minutes per grouping

Although 10-15 minutes for a group photo may seem like a lot, keep in mind that this time account for not only the time is takes to snap a few frames but also to gather all the people, get their attention, arrange a proper pose, and then dismiss the group.

Brides and grooms often have  huge lists of ‘must have’ family photos to take post-ceremony and by ensuring that they have scheduled enough time in the day for the photos, you’ll also ensure that you have plenty of time to photograph the wedding party as well as the bride and groom together.


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