Photographed by Melli & Shayne

Story

When we went to look for a spot to take the group photos, we noticed that the courtyard where the wedding party was being held was not quite ideal. Even though it was beautiful, we know our couple wanted to have group photos with large constellations and space was just not big enough. We found this spot at the entrance of the reception venue and the fact that we had stairs to use was a huge bonus!

Group photos are often not given enough positive attention. They can be really good fun and it helps pass the time for everyone in case things are a bit more… quiet. But most of all, they are incredibly important. They’re the most printed/downloaded photos in any set (normally).
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Directions

EnergeticFunnyJokesLaughing

Calm Energetic
Planned On the spot
Tricky Easy
Posed Natural
Once we had our group positioned on the stairs with the couple in the middle and had taken our formal shots, we upped our energy and motivated them all to celebrate! We used our loud, excited tones & jokes to get people moving, and dancing, and throwing their hands in the air!
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“Alright, everyone! Let’s celebrate! Throw your hands in the air! Do a dance! Make some noise and let’s have some fun! Woohoo!!”
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Composition

Center FramedLeading LinesFull BodySymmetry

The main reason we chose to frame this image vertically was to reduce the distracting elements on either side of the stairs as well as to use include the beautiful door behind them to add context. We also had our group on different levels of the stairs so we could see everyone’s faces. Finally, the stairs also formed natural leading lines which helps bring the viewer’s attention up through the image.
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Think about what you want to include and exclude from your image. Sometimes something that looks really pretty may actually be too distracting for the image to keep the viewer’s attention on your subjects.

Focusing

Multi Point Focused on The Group Single Shot Autofocus
Focusing in group photos where the people are on different levels & distances can be risky if you shoot with a wide-open aperture. We closed our aperture down enough to still allow us a fast enough shutter speed & ISO combination but which reduced the bokeh quite significantly. We then set our focus to matrix (Multiple points) mode and let it lock on to the group.
Light & Weather

Soft LightNatural LightShade

We started shooting the group photos pretty late in the afternoon / early evening where the sun had already set behind some tall buildings (just behind us). This gave us shade to work with which is really nice, soft light. One of the key things when finding this location was to make sure that we had some shade given the time of the day meant the sun was still up high enough to be harsh.
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Equipment & EXIF

1/640 f/8 ISO 640 WB Shade

Camera

Canon 5D Mark IV

Lens

Canon 35mm f/1.4 L II

Editing

Adobe Lightroom Classic M&S The Roots Presets

Software used:

 

The edits are made to be warmer with a big focus on skin tones and light play with shadows and highlights. A few minor local adjustments were made (Gradient and Brush) as well as finishing off with a fine layer of grain. The whites are not blown out nor are the blacks 100% crunched.
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This image was edited with

M&S The Roots Presets

Challenges & Solutions
The main challenge was coordinating such a big group of people, especially when we were unfamiliar with who was who and how they all relate to each other.

Location

Wedding / Event Venue United States

The Norwood Club

241 W 14th St, New York, NY 10011, United States

Final tips & Advice

Group photos don’t always have to be a drag. They can be really good fun and even become a spectacle to the other guests who are nearby. Once you have the formal, serious, smiling-in-the-camera shots, take advantage of everyone together and throw in some jokes, some games, or something silly just to add to the fun of it all.

When going through the last details with your couple before their wedding, make sure you have a comprehensive list of the constellations they want for group photos. Of course, new groups can form on the spot, but having your list and checking it off as you go through is so important to not forget anyone.
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Melli & Shayne

Photographer Germany Canon 5D Mark IV Canon 50mm f/1.2 L
We are Melli & Shayne, a couple coming from vastly different worlds but have been inseparable ever since we met in Zanzibar. We have been passionately capturing love stories since 2014 and have loved every step of the way. We love to meet fellow photographers, to share our knowledge amongst a bottle (or two) of wine and support every one wherever we can.
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Everyone fails. It’s how you take it that will separate you from the rest. Failure is a lesson. And knowledge is a win.

Designed with love by Katharina + Katharina & Shayne Thomas. Background image by Adrián Vilanova

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