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Effective Strategies for Posing Wedding Groups

  Today's post is an excerpt from the book 100 Techniques for Professional Wedding Photographers, by Bill Hurter. It is available from Amazon.com and other fine retailers.

Tip # 30. Photographing Larger Groups

As people gather for large group portraits, have them put their drinks down before they enter the staging area, then arrange the group so that the bride and groom are the center of interest and everyone else’s face can be seen (tell everyone that they need to be able to see you with both eyes to be seen in the photo). Look for a high vantage point, such as a balcony or second-story window, from which you can make the portrait. You can also use your trusty stepladder, but be sure someone holds it steady—particularly if you’re at the very top. Use a wide-angle lens and focus about a third of the way into the group, using a moderate taking aperture to keep everyone sharply focused. Another trick is to have the last row in a group lean in while having the first row lean back, thus creating a shallower subject plane, making it easier to hold the focus across the entire group.

This is the “bouquet of flowers” treatment for groups. Shooting from directly above to capitalize on the symmetry of the composition, Dan Doke created a beautiful portrait of the bride and her maids. Using an 85mm lens, the perspective is good and normal. With a wide-angle lens, faces this close to the frame edges would have been distorted. 

Tip #31. Speeding Up Your Group Portraits

The best man and ushers can usually be persuaded to help organize large group photos. Be sure to have everyone make it sound like fun—it should be. One solution is to make your formal groups at the church door as the couple and bridal party emerge. Everyone in the wedding party is present and the parents are nearby. If you don’t have a lot of time to make these groups, this is a great way to get them all at once—in under five minutes. 

Tip #32. Control the Focus Field

Adjust the Camera Angle. With large groups, raising the camera height and angling the camera downward keeps the film plane more parallel to the plane of the group’s faces. Doing this does not change the depth of field, but it optimizes the plane of focus to accommodate the depth of the group. This makes it possible to get both the front and back rows in focus.

Adjust the Subject Distance. If your subjects are in a straight line, those at the ends of the group will be proportionately farther away from the lens than those in the middle of the lineup (unless you are working at a great distance from the subjects). As a result, those farthest from the lens will be difficult to keep in focus. The solution is to bend the group, having the middle of the group step back and the ends of the group step forward so that all of the people are at the same relative distance to the camera. To the camera, the group will still look like a straight line, but by distorting the plane of sharpness you will be able to accommodate the entire group.

Ben Chen used a beautiful spiral staircase as the framework for this formal wedding portrait. He lit the scene with his on-camera 580EX strobe bounced into the ceiling. Notice how each person in the group looks great—even the little ones. 

This is a fun group shot of a huge wedding party done by JB Sallee. Titled Jump, Damn It!, this is a straight-line composition. The group has a good dynamic created by the fact that over half of the group could not take directions very well. The up-and-down head heights produces its own kind of dynamic line that seems to work in this composition.

Sparkle, Post and Win a Rehearsal Dinner for 50!

Want to write your own modern fairytale? Enter for a chance to win a romantic rehearsal dinner hosted by one of Naperville’s premiere wedding spots, Hotel Arista, through the Timeless Photo Contest. If you are a bride-to-be, you are invited to visit Hotel Arista’s Facebook page and submit a photo of your engagement ring to be entered for a chance to win a rehearsal dinner, valued at three-thousand dollars.

The blushing bride who wins will have the chance to invite up to 50 VIP guests to celebrate and dine in a classic and timeless setting, Hotel Arista.  Our expert wedding planners will customize the rehearsal dinner where family and friends will spend their evening in an elegant and intimate atmosphere, while dining on stunning signature dishes that will be sure to delight. Hotel Arista’s AAA Four-Diamond-Award-Winning and old-world style service has created thousands of weddings that are memorable and effortless.

The drawing will take place on Monday, Feb. 18, 2013. Brides can sparkle and submit simply by visiting at Hotel Arista’s Facebook page at facebook.com/HotelAristaIL or http://a.pgtb.me/41fDPJ.

Ursula & Brent

Three words sum up the recent wedding of Ursula and Brent....Bold, Punchy and Elegant.  The couple chose a color palette of Silver, Orange and Peacock Blue to set the tone for a truly unique and inspirational wedding.  I think this is one of my new favorite fall color combinations.  The couple chose to welcome their guests with many fun surprises.  Vintage Window Panes served as a decorative art piece to display the seating chart.  

Guests dined on butler passed hors d' oeuvres including Crab cakes, Arancine with Sun Dried Tomato Butter, Bacon Wrapped Scallops and Panko Crusted Spicy Chicken Lollipops with Hot & Sour Dipping Sauce.  The highlight of the cocktail hour was the signature cocktail which was developed from a family recipe and included notes of apple, cinnamon and nutmeg.  

As the dinner hour approached and the doors opened to the stunning ballroom, guests were greeted by champagne and the sounds of a live band.  Floral centerpieces and custom table numbers were designed by Kio Kreations.  A combination of tall and short centerpieces were set in conjunction with silver crush linens, custom menu cards and personalized jam jar wedding favors, my favorite was the Moscato Pear Marmalade.  The night continued with a Caprese Salad, Seared Flat Iron Steak with Fig Balsamic Onion Jam and Roasted Chicken Breast Stuffed with Pancetta and Caramelized Onion Bread Pudding.  

The couple's wedding cake was a breathtaking five tier wedding cake complete with lovebirds as a cake topper.  The night finished with guests dancing the night away while enjoying late night snacks of Beef and Pork Sliders along with Truffle Fries and a special "Cookies and Milk" station.  The night was fun, energetic and delightful.  Best wishes to Ursula and Brent as they begin their new life together as husband and wife.

Jessica & Gino

Jessica and Gino said "I do" in the Hotel Arista Ballroom with over 150 loved ones present.  This intimate event was filled with special moments, and even a few surprises.  When searching for a venue,   the couple sought after a modern, high end venue with a downtown feel in the suburbs.  The couple choose a color palate of platinum with pops of luscious plum.

Yanni designs created a beautiful backdrop for the couple's wedding ceremony including elegant draping and purple up lighting along with tall floral pieces set on lit pillars.  The bride wore a gorgeous Vera Wang Dress and Valentino Pumps.  As the touching ceremony ended, guests moved into the pre- function area for butler passed Bay Scallop Ceviche, Lamb Lollipops and Crispy Bread with Goat Cheese Mousse & Crispy Basil.  Guests enjoyed Pomegranate Martini's prior to entering the ballroom which began with a musical performance from a live band.

As guests entered the ballroom, the scene was breath taking.  Tables were adorned with Platinum Pintuck linens complete with eggplant napkins and custom menu cards.  Warm candlelight centerpieces and tall arrangements of roses and hydrangea completed the romantic look.  Guests were greeted with champagne followed by a delightful meal of Field Greens Salad with Truffle Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette, Filet Mignon with Port Truffle Oil Reduction and Escolar Fish with Naval Orange Citrus Brown Butter.  The end of the meal concluded with a beautiful four tier wedding cake from "The Cakery" and late night surprises including a Popcorn Station and Mini Beef Sliders served with Chocolate Mini Milkshakes.

Guests danced the night away while also taking a moment to take individual as well as group photos in the photo booth.

The decor element  of this wedding and exquisite meal set the tone for a warm and romantic evening filled with laughter and love from friends and family.

I wish Jessica and Gino much love and happiness as they embark on their new journey as husband and wife.  Thank you for allowing myself as well as Hotel Arista to be a part of your special day!


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