Wedding Photography Group Shots: what makes them special
This picture of Stephanie and her bridesmaids is from a wedding I shot pre-pandemic at Black Butte Ranch. I loved working with her and Brian and this became a portfolio wedding in my old way of shooting and selling weddings. This would be one of the 25 prints I would make for a couple in my new way of shooting and selling weddings on my new Bend Wedding Photographers website.
Not because it's a static group shot, but because it's a picture between the official pictures when Stephanie and her friends were naturally themselves. I will pick this kind of picture over a static group shot 100% of the time because it's them as real people rather than cardboard cutouts. This picture gets lost if the photographer is spending most of the limited time making sure everyone's dress is exactly right. Dresses are important, but get lost when emotion takes over the scene.
Three basic rules of thumb a budding news photographer learns in photojournalism school: a good picture needs light, composition, and emotion. This picture has all three. The light coming in from the side is my Profoto. You can tell it's being used from the sparkle in Stephanie's eyes. Composition is from the side and different than the usual line-them-up-and-shoot picture. The first part of this picture anyone will notice is the emotion. It's the first of the three pillars of a picture I notice. There's a fourth pillar that doesn't get mentioned too often, but one I always pay attention to while shooting: the background. This picture has a clean, simple background that doesn't take away from Stephanie and her friends.
I put them in this position, they did the pose
It took me awhile to get this going. Lots of people go to and are involved in weddings. They get used to doing the same poses over and over again. When I did this pose nobody but me saw it originally. To be honest, we did the normal shoulder to shoulder pose as well just to have the safe shot. But that one isn't in my website or on the wall in my meeting room to show people my work and let them know why they should hire me as their wedding photographer.
A couple things about this picture. The first is they aren't lined up in a strict vertical line. That's a boring composition. They're at an angle going to the right. We read left to right, so it doesn't hurt our eyes. Also a diagonal line almost always works in a picture. Straight horizontal and vertical lines rarely work. The second thing in this picture is, of course, the emotion. Rivkela's sister did The Scream with her spontaneously. These faces lasted a split second and I was ready to get the shot. Having a cloudy day and using my Profoto with a big umbrella off to camera right made them pop out of the background. As always you can tell it's being used from the light shining in Rivkela's eyes. The background was the dark shadowed trees. That's not an accident. Those dark shadowed trees were picked on purpose to give a nice contrast to the ladies and make them stand out.
I'm always looking for interesting compositions, with nice light, and most importantly emotion. These three elements working together always insures a picture making it to the final cut and possibly onto my website.