Family Formals | Tips for Photographers

Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I get a lot of compliments about how quickly and smoothly the family portraits portion of the wedding day goes! It also seems to be scary for photographers sometimes, so I just wanted to share my system about how I work through family formals!

family formals tips by Linda Barry Photography

Like I mentioned – it’s a SYSTEM that I use at every wedding. My brides fill out questionnaires ahead of time that list all the names of family members and such and that helps me build my list. I do the same system for the bride’s side, and the groom’s side. If there are extra people they want, they include them on the questionnaire and I just add those on at the end! However, I always do any photos with grandparents first!

All right. Here we go!

For Amanda and Chris’ wedding, this is how I did the family photos for Amanda’s immediate (James, Maria, Alexandra, and Samantha) family. I always start with the big group and then kick people out. This is literally how I say this:

“Okay, we need Chris, Amanda, Amanda’s parents and siblings!”

I take the photo of them all.

“Beautiful! Chris we are all set with you, you can step out now!”

Now I take the photo of just Amanda with her parents and sisters.

“Perfect! Alex and Sam you can step out now!”

I take the photo of just Amanda and her parents since I already got photos of her and her sisters earlier. If you don’t already have a siblings photo via the wedding party, do this here and ask parents to step out for a second.

“Love it! Dad you can step out but don’t go too far!”

Take the photo of Amanda and her mom.

“Thank you! Mom you can step out, dad you can step back in!”

Take the photo of Amanda and her dad, and BOOM. Done with her side of the family in probably 2-3 minutes. I do a vertical and horizontal shot for each arrangement of people! Then I do the same set up with Chris’ side of the family.

Seriously, this part of the day goes super quick for me, even if they add in extra people at the last minute!

Give it a shot! Starting with a big group of people and then narrowing it down, or doing it in the opposite direction will save you so much time on a wedding day and will keep you from getting flustered!


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family formals tips by Linda Barry Photography

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  1. […] that one area of the wedding day that can cause the most stress is the family formals. I did a blog post last year geared towards photographers about how to do family formals quickly and efficiently. It’s such a […]

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You can usually find me adding books to my never-ending “to read” list; challenging myself to do things like not shop for a year; sneaking crispy m+ms from my secret hiding spot so I don’t have to share them with my daughter; and melting over seeing my children smiling at each other.

Oh and I guess I should mention - I’m a seasoned Portland wedding photographer who provides not only kick-ass wedding photos, but also a meaningful and laid-back experience from the time you book to the delivery of your final images. 

I share all things personal, business, tips, and life as a mom and business owner here on the blog!

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