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The Friday Fight-Out: Posed Group Photos Vs Natural Groupings

Group photographs are traditionally a part of any collection of wedding photographs and are something that a portion of the day is always given over to. But are the groups really necessary? Is it better for your photographer to just capture those groups as they naturally occur? Let’s step into the ring and see if we can find the answer!

In the Red Corner, devising poses and fighting for the big group shots, she once organised 42 groups in an hour, had time to spare and lived to tell the tale, it’s our one (and definitely only!) Dom “the tog bride.”

In the Blue Corner, looking for those natural groupings and leaving the posed groups behind, he was once guest at a wedding where Dom was the photographer and made him kneel down in some goose manure! (…ahem *cough* I didn’t know!) It’s Matt ‘The Gormless Groom”.

Posed Vs Natural



Dom: However hard your photographer tries it’s virtually impossible to get photographs of all the groups of people you want without artificially placing them together. After all, that group of people may never physically stand near enough to one another on the day and even if they do happen to stand together your photographer may be occupied elsewhere.

Matt: But although group shots are always requested they rarely make the most interesting shots and are hardly ever chosen for couple’s wedding albums. Isn’t it better to just not bother and get more natural shots of the events of the day?

Dom: Until my own wedding I tended to agree, but actually when it came to it having a few shots of our families together turned out to be really important to me! You don’t need to get a shot of every single person that was present at your wedding but having a few is really important.

Matt:But they take up so much of your time! Your time is already so precious on your wedding… do you really want to spend 30 minutes standing in a line!?

Dom: Only if you don’t know what you are doing! A professional photographer can work efficiently and quickly and can have 8-10 groups photographed within 20 minutes max.

Matt: But they are so BORING!! A firing line of group after group.. all in the same pose!

Dom: Groups don’t have to be like that! With a small amount of time and lots of imagination you can create amazing groups, dynamic, unusual, fun and most definitely not  just in a line!

Matt: Ok, fair enough but do they really show the true story of the day? I want my pictures to show truly what happened, not an artificial version!

Dom: You can have both, especially if there are two photographers, one can capture whats happening whilst the other concentrates for a very small amount of time on groups.

Matt: That’s fine when there’s plenty of room and places to go, but sometimes the groups can bring proceedings to a standstill with everyone waiting around to be called for their photograph and nothing for anyone to do.

Dom: You do realise if we had no group shots our lives wouldn’t be worth continuing… our parents would have KILLED us! 

Matt: True… but we could have told them it was either cut the groups or cut the allocated tea time, that should do the trick!

So what do you think? Groups or no groups? Come join the debate via comments, Facebook or Twitter!


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  • Sam - December 7, 2012 - 5:28 pm

    I’m a big fan of the outdoor staged photo…

    Gives me chance to sober up.ReplyCancel

  • Anthony - Devon wedding photographer - December 7, 2012 - 7:45 pm

    I think group shots can take up a bit of time but if that’s what the couple want……!!? I think the one shot of the whole wedding party is enough.ReplyCancel

    • bridevsgroom - December 9, 2012 - 11:19 am

      Matt: Thanks for the comment Anthony, I absolutely agree it’s always about what the couple want, but sometimes I think there’s also an element of ensuring that couples understand what they’re asking for and the implications it has on their day. A few groups can be great, but when a photographer is given a list of 40+ different combinations there’s nothing wrong with that either as long as they understand that it will take a while and that the guests are likely to get a little grumpy if they have to wait around! Generally I think a whole group shot and maybe a few of the two families is enough, most of the other groups you might want, e.g. friends from Uni, friends from home etc. are likely to naturally group anyway as they are the people who will know each other. That way you get some great natural shots and everyone’s happy!ReplyCancel

  • Michael & Andrea - December 8, 2012 - 11:24 am

    We think its something that many a wedding photographer will debate with others or even in their own mind. Before Bohemian Weddings was born we shot more ‘traditional’ weddings. We found that group shots were expected and allowed for minimal creativity. Unless you get each group in turn together and have some way to make them interact and pose naturally instead of being shy, not looking at you and having those cheesy grins they are never our or the couples favored images.

    Making them cool can be done and if it is really important to the couple then you need to communicate and have a structure to how it will work, who is included and how long it will take so there is no confusion on the day. Keeping the other guests occupied at this stage is key…que the magician 😉

    These days we do things differently and strive to attract couples that want something less traditional and actually really value photography. This means that instead of having various aspects included in their wedding because it is ‘expected’ of them we have couples that do what they want to do which means more time for being creative having more time for just shots of them etc

    There is no wrong or right, cutting them for other things makes a lot of sense, but allowing extra time for some inspired funky group shots may be the niche some photographers have been looking for!

    A master of group-non posed shots is Fer Juaristi, simply inspiring

    • bridevsgroom - December 9, 2012 - 11:32 am

      Matt: Hey Michael & Andrea, thanks for your comment, very well put and I think you’ve hit the nail on the head! Group shots can be really cool and if the couple and the guests are up for it then they can be just as creative as any other shot, it all depends on what the couple are after and what they want from their wedding photos.

      Oh, and you’re totally right about Fer… we actually ‘modelled’ for him for a workshop shoot a few weeks before our wedding and the guy is the absolute master! In fact you can read my thoughts on it hereReplyCancel

  • Michael & Andrea - December 10, 2012 - 9:48 am

    Wow Matt thats super cool that you guys got to pose for him! We went to his workshop a month or so ago and were pretty much the same. Wow lets book it, hmm now how do we get to Manchester 😉ReplyCancel

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