The Great Group Shot Approach.
This is a quickie. Promise. The most challenging part of shooting a wedding if you ask me is NOT...the ceremony, the reception, the getting ready, the lighting (well sometimes that's tricky), the travel, the long hours, not eating, hot days etc etc. The hardest part, for me anyway, is coming up with original ideas for group shots. Doing the family group shots are more straight forward and I tell my clients, "Listen, they can be a drag, but your parents will thank you for it." I tell them I try to crank those out because the fun part is the bridal party shots. Then I sweat and freak the f_ck out because I think, "how can I make these group shots original? Lord give me ideas!" But here is the miracle....my clients make it easy. After a few years of really digging deep into the wedding world I have found that my job is not just me shooting a wedding, it's a collaboration between me AND the couple. We end up working together. Most of my couples give me almost complete creative freedom. They trust me. I'm open to all suggestions. If my idea sucks, they tell me and if their ideas suck, I tell them. But we ALWAYS try it. And it's a formula that is working for me! I couldn't be happier and I truly believe my clients are happy too.
And here's the other thing...this one is more for the photographers out there reading this thing. Digital is KING. But it's not perfect. Trust me I do miss aspect of film. We as photographers make it perfect. We can airbrush and liquify people until they look embalmed. We can take an exit sign out or remove Uncle Bob (that's what most of us call that guy who is dancing and sweating all over the place...funny but true) when he's in that money shot of the couple in a really fantastic moment. But it's all at a price to you the client. Anything can be done for a price. But what money can't buy is capturing a moment in time. In a photograph, time stands still for eternity. To me; my job is to capture moments, not create them. That's the clients job. Whether it's a family/children's portrait or a huge wedding, that moment is happening and photographers are there to catch that moment in time. Life is not perfect. It's analog. Dave Grohl from the Foo Fighters explained that when they recorded their latest album "Wasting Light" in a garage, that Rock 'n Roll wasn't perfect. And it's the imperfection that makes is so great. I kind of feel that way about doing the group shot. I can remove all the eye sores out of the picture, but then I would be screwing with that imperfection that makes the image a classic. It's a moment in time, where people aren't really camera aware, they are just aware of the moment.
I would be lying if I didn't say I don't tweak my images to make them look great in terms of color and sharpness etc. I love presets and post production. But as far as perfection...nah...leave that to top 40 music which is no way in hell perfection if you ask me. Sorry top 40 music fans. ;-)
Here are some examples of what I am talking about. Most of these are group shots from the bridal party stuff. I have also used some examples where there was very little to no bridal party just because I feel like these images capture what I call on my website "Formals MY way".