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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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How did you direct your subject(s)?

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!

What did you say?

Alright, everyone! Let’s celebrate! Throw your hands in the air! Do a dance! Make some noise and let’s have some fun! Woohoo!!

How did you compose your image?

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.

How and what did you focus on?

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.


How did you use the light in your image?

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.

What was the gear & settings you used?

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Canon 5D Mark IV


Canon EF 35mm f/1.4 L II





Shutter Speed






White Balance


How did you edit your image & what did you use?

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.

Software Used

Adobe Lightroom Classic

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What challenges did you face?

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.

How did you solve them?

It always helps to have one of the bridesmaids/groomsmen to be on standby who can help bring the groups together while the couple doesn’t have to worry. We always make sure that we have this helping hand for group photos as it also ensures that we don’t miss constellations on our list.

Can you share any last thoughts or 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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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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