Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Get Over It.

I see, all the time, all over the blogs and boards and all over Twitter, the same line of thinking over and over again. "I don't wanna do the posed family portraits but my mother says we have to. I hate those pictures. They look so fake. I want candids! Only candids!" Well, it irritates me. So I'm going to say something, and it may make me unpopular, but I think that posed pictures are important.*

Look, I get that I'm unreasonably lucky that my parents are low-drama. (Well, they're different-drama.) They are not interested in telling me how to run the wedding. They will show up, wear what I tell them to, and do what I tell them to. I understand that a lot of you have much more difficult situations with your parents. Your mothers are controlling and constantly telling you what to do. They don't understand what you want, your aesthetic, your relationship, your religious beliefs.

Here's the thing with the posed portraits. Your mother/father/grandmother could care less what YOU want out of your photographer. I'm guessing they don't give a damn that you want a picture of the groomsmen with their argyle socks, or you want "gloriously vintage photographs"**. They want a picture of all of your family gathered together on your wedding day. I get it, that if you concede to this demand, then you feel like you have to concede to all their demands. Well, I have news for you. You don't. You don't have to concede to any of their demands, really, but I think you should concede to this one. Because that posed family portrait matters to people besides you. It will matter to your future children, who will love to look through your wedding album.***

There are ways to do the big family pictures that don't involve them being taken right after the ceremony, or feeling super "posed". My sister had the photographer pull groups of people during the reception, and that worked out really well. We will either do that, or just pull people from the tail end of the cocktail hour. You can also pick who goes in pictures together if you want. Somebody asked recently if it would be weird to want a picture with just her mom and dad, and not her step-mom. I think that is totally normal and okay to ask for. It's also okay to say you don't want to take a picture with your whole blended family, and that you will instead take separate portraits. If you set the terms beforehand, you can also request that whoever rounds up the family for the portraits make it clear that dates not be included, or whatever other requests you have that make you more comfortable with your family. Portraits aren't bad and they do not have to take forever, and you can dictate the terms, but I think compromise on this issue is important, because you know what? The wedding isn't about you.

Oh, yeah, and if you don't want to do the family portraits, your pushy family member is gonna line everybody up and make you do it anyway, because they want that picture.

*Some of you, when I point this out, say "well of course we'll do pictures with our parents and with our grandmothers and with our families" so WTF do you think you mean by "posed family portraits?" This may simply be an issue of semantics.
**Yes, I'm being sarcastic. I'm sorry, but I don't get why you want the pictures from your wedding day to look like somebody took them in the 70s.
***I love love love going through my parents' wedding pictures. I always have. My parents don't, but that's their thing.


  1. Heh, I wish I'd had this post back when I was explaining to Econo Man why I wanted to make room for photos of family groups. He was all, "does anyone really want a big picture of everyone in the family?" I said I knew my mom and grandparents would, and he kind of sighed and said OK, but that no one in *his* family ever did anything like that. A week later, his mom asked us when we were taking photos because she really wanted a picture with her extended family who'd come for the wedding.

    It's not the most fun in the whole world, but those pictures mean a lot to family members, and now they mean a lot to me too. And a good photographer can make it pretty painless!

  2. Exactly to all of this, including the footnotes.

  3. I totally agree, and I'm looking forward to looking through our portraits after the wedding.

  4. Agreed! And even if *we* don't want the picture - then we don't have to order it. But if our mom's do - they can. Great post.

  5. "They will show up, wear what I tell them to, and do what I tell them to."


  6. I got my instructions from the "Dirty Dozen"

    "You've seen a general inspecting troops before haven't you? Just walk slow, act dumb and look stupid!"

  7. @Alycia I can see why that would make you say yikes , but really all my parents have said is "just tell us what to do." and "we'll wear whatever you tell us to". So really, the pressure is on me to give instructions, not on them to follow orders.

  8. When I first started talking to the friend I want to be my photographer, he suggested I hire a professional to do all the "Grandma stand over here" photos. I felt like he was judging those pictures as not worth his talents. Turns out he thinks those are the MOST important and worried I wouldn't like his results. But I trust him. And I agree it is wonderful to have family pictures at weddings, even if they are "posed" and therefore "fake."

    [Sad sidebar: the last time I saw my mom alive was posing for a family portrait. I cherish having that moment caught on film! It doesn't feel fake at all to me.]

  9. this post is awesome. you write like my bff, candace, talks- very blunt, very to the point, no messin' around or sugar coating. it's a nice reality check to have someone sift through the bullshit and get to the point, especially for the indecisive folk like me.

    as for our pictures. i really don't have any expectations because we have friends taking them and i want them to enjoy their time, but there will most definitely some "grandma, stand over here" type shots.

  10. Love the post. You make some very good points that anyone should keep in mind. The posed family portraits are also important to future generations. I have gone to many reunions where someone has brought the photos and we all look at photos of great great grandma's wedding or Great Uncle so and so wedding day.

  11. So very true. Our photographer took hardly any of the standard portraity photos - and they are all the ones I wish I had. Hindsight is a bitch.