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Taylor Nicole Photography is a fine art wedding photography team based out of Denver, Colorado. We specialize in providing bright, classic and refined wedding imagery for our couples. 

We capture a mix of posed and candid imagery that couples will cherish for all the years to come.

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Episode 034. Family Photos – Relevant vs. Not

May 9, 2023



Weddings & Life Podcast with Taylor Nicole, a podcast by Colorado Wedding Photographer, Taylor Nicole Photography

Listen to this episode on Apple Podcasts or Spotify


First let’s start off this episode saying that the title can be deceiving. I am not implying that family portraits are irrelevant at all. I actually think family portraits are some of the most important pictures taken on a wedding day. So what could this episode be about then? Family portrait combinations that are must haves, and combinations that should be left out of the family photo list. I will walk you though a traditional family photo list for wedding days and explain how to get the family portraits you want without feeling like you spent hours taking them. I hope you listen to the rest and enjoy!

Inside the Episode:

Thanks for joining for another podcast episode! I have loved writing these out and recording as many as I possibly can before weddings start to catch up with me again. So let’s dive right into this topic.

Family photos are important. How often will you families, even just immediate families be together in one place.. Probably never again. Okay that sounded dramatic but for most cases it’s close to true. The family portraits ended up being Austin and I’s absolute favorite images and the most printed and looked at images from our entire wedding day. We love our couples portraits and memories from our ceremony and reception too, but we are big family people and those photos of the ones we love the most mean the whole world to us.

Now from the wedding photographer’s perspective family photos are probably, no actually they are definitely the number one most hectic time of the day for us. Hopefully we have a list but in general we are gather groups of family members, setting them up in front of the camera (evenly spacing everyone can take a while with many members) then taking multiple pictures of each group because everyone blinks sometimes and we can’t miss it. Let alone if there are kiddos that requires even a little more attention to detail to make sure they are lookin our way too. Meanwhile we usually get some funny uncles asking us if we can “photoshop that” Or “Can you put my face on Ryan Reynolds body?” Something along those lines.

It is not to say that we all dislike family photos, but we have a definite time limit and also pressure of working so many people in and out of groupings that it can be difficult, or hectic. 

So that’s where I am coming from in this episode. I see it from both sides. One as a bride who adores my family photos and the other as a photographer who has had some difficult family photos before too!

So here are a few tips on how to make family portraits go smoothly

  • Have a plan
    • This means create a family portrait list
    • that everyone understands (using relationships and names because just Mom, or just Jane alone doesn’t help the photographer!)
  • Less is more
  • A general rule of thumb is expect each photo combination to take 1-2 minutes 
  • And any extended family groupings to take 3-5 minutes 
  • Focus on the most important immediate family and grandparent combinations during the formal portrait time and then potentially gather extended family during the reception 
  • Or plan more time to accommodate extended combinations (I love my extended family portraits so I make it a goal to never talk a client out of those images, but making sure they know the time to expect to spend)
  • Communication is key
  • Texting the family members personally to let them know “hey we want you in our family portraits, would you please stay at the ceremony site immediately after the ceremony. We will sign our license and then get right back and start the family portraits with you!” 
  • Also don’t forget about your sibling’s spouses here. And their kids too, especially for at least one full immediate family photo on each side. Sometimes in-laws think they’re excluded from these and then time is spent going to find them again.

Family combinations to avoid

I also wanted to touch on a few commonly awkward or less necessary family photo combinations. These are just from my experience and if you have your heart set on these photos that is totally fine!

  1. The parents together photo. This can look like couple and then both or all of the couple’s parents in the photo with them. I 100% see where this combination comes from. You probably love your parents and think a photo of them all together would be great. 

The Problems

  • Divorce, remarriage or significant others attending. 
  • If your parents are separated and not friendly standing them up there for a group photo on your side is awkward for all involved.
  • Also if your parent is bringing a new spouse or significant other you have to decide if you want that person in or out of photos and unless there is a good relaxed atmosphere it is pretty awkward to have a new significant other step out of a photo combination.
  • Even if there isn’t drama this is a take or leave sort of photo. Unless your families are close no one is printing that photo off for their mantle. They really just care about their side of the immediate family.

So once again not a bad idea, but could bring up some awkwardness or just isn’t the most efficient use of time for a photo.

  1. The next problematic and slightly irrelevant photo is the big both sides of extended families all in one photo together.
  • first extended family photos are hard enough to wrangle, and it usually works best to take a large group photo and then release extra people like aunts uncles and cousins and work down to smaller combos on a family side… but we can’t release anyone if you’re wanting a big group photo. We have to make everyone stick around and re-arrange everyone for each.
  • Not to mention it gets a bit off centered if one side of the family has more people than the other. We won’t make some extra groom’s family members go hang out on the other side just for symmetry when that alienates them from their family and puts them next to strangers.
  • Lastly similar principle as the parent photo… who is going to bring a large group photo when half of the photo is full of people they don’t know and won’t see again? And by the time you get that many people in a photo everyone is small in the frame so it’s not exactly a mantle worthy photo anyways.
  • Totally just my opinion there! I will say I was photographing a wedding last Summer and the bride and groom’s families had been neighbors and grew up together and they did at least a combined immediate family grouping, I think some extended members too and that was one scenario where I could see people actually appreciating those images.

Family Photo Combinations – The most important/ Don’t miss these list

Okay are you ready for a fast run down of each family portrait you should take? This will vary for each family situation but for each side- bride’s and groom’s family here are photos you should for sure take:

  • you with your mom
  • With your dad
  • With both parents together 
  • Add in your spouse- couple with parents
  • Add in any siblings with you and your spouse
  • Add in Grandparents to the immediate family with spouse
  • Take out the parents & grandparents- take a sibling photo with your spouse
  • Take out your spouse and any in-laws and take an OG sibling photo
  • Take an individual photo with each sibling
  • You and your spouse with your grandparents (potentially individually with a grandparent if special!)

There you have it, that is my go to combination list. Repeat that for each family and you will get the best and most important group portraits! That’s about 10 combinations- so roughly 15 minutes per side or 30 minutes of family photos total. Much more than that can feel long!

I hope this helped you think about your family portraits!

xo, Taylor Nicole

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