Rock Your Formal Group Photographs

Rock Your Formal Group Photographs

Rock Your Formal Group Photographs

My guide to making your formal group photography as fuss free as possible

Formal group photographs are almost like a rite of passage and many happy couples choose to include them within their professional photography But how do you enjoy them whilst avoiding the pitfalls?  This blog post aims to share the pitfalls and what you can do make your group shots run as smoothly as possible.


Most couples are shocked when they are advised that it takes a minimum of 5-10 minutes to set up and take each group shot but when you account for missing guests, missing bouquets, flower girls with mum’s lipstick all across their faces before you even start getting everyone into position it becomes much easier to understand.  So check out the following advice to make your group shots easier.

Rocking those Group shots

1. Have a photography plan

Having a plan for your formal group shots is really important, they ensure you’ve allowed enough time for all the photos you’d like, considered who is important to be included and worked out a logical order to take the photos in.  Your photographer will help you work out the best order and plan how they will use the time available for your photographs.

A sensible estimate is 5 minutes per small group i.e. up to 6 people, 5-10 minutes for larger extended family or friendship groups and 10-15 minutes for a full group shot.  Fewer group shots means the whole shebang takes less time.

Plans are also really important because they ensure that no one important is missed, they take into consideration how much time little ones can spend concentrating before they get bored or how to work around nap time, how quickly children can get messy, mobility needs of relatives and friends and the ease of getting them into and out of position and family dynamics.

It might be a good idea, particularly at a large wedding to give guests who will be needed for group shots a heads up before the big day and give them a time and a place to meet so they are ready and this part of the day can get underway quickly and with minimum fuss.  Or organise for the ushers to find everyone when the time arises.

 Formal Group Photos To Consider

1) Whole group

2) Couple’s extended family

3) Couple’s immediate family

4) Couples parents

5) One half of couples parents

6) Other half of couples parents

7) Couple’s friends

8) One half of wedding party (bridesmaids etc)

9) Other half of wedding party (groomsmen etc)

10) Whole wedding party

It’s worth thinking about which groups are most important and which can be done at alternative parts of the day if there are any delays.  If you have any small group photos you’d like but don’t want included as part of the formal photography be sure to let your photographer know so they can try to ensure you get these photos too.

2. K.I.S.S.

No! Not kiss in every photo but that old saying “keep it simple stupid.”  The lower the number of group photographs the fewer guests are required and the quicker the session is completed meaning you can get back to enjoying your reception and your guests sooner.

Fewer guests means its easier to communicate instructions and there’s generally a quicker response as everyone hears and understands what’s needed to get the job done.  You’re also more likely to get everyone looking in the same direction at the same time which means fewer repeats are needed to get a great image.

No wandering off

The other thing about getting the job done quickly is that guests are less likely to get thirsty or need the loo.  This means there is less chance of them wandering off when you need them and leaving everyone standing around waiting for them to come back when you’d all rather be having a good time.  Your photographer will try to use the time as best as possible and do other shots during this wait but sometimes this time just gets lost.

Don’t forget…

Check with your parents for any group photographs they would like included to avoid unplanned photographs or disagreements on the day.


3. Get rid of Drinks and Handbags

I’m going to be honest here – this one doesn’t need much explanation.

If you’ve specifically requested formal group shots, I’m guessing, you’re looking for images that will have a high chance of being printed and hung on the wall (if not by you then perhaps by other family members).

The inclusion of drinks and handbags are the difference between formal group shots and candid images and there is usually plenty of time for candid images during other parts of the day.

Ask your venue for a couple of tables or trays to be placed near where your group shots will be so that your guests can put their drinks and other bits down easily without risk of them spilling or getting wet if it’s been raining.


Ask guests not involved in the group shots to continue enjoying themselves in the bar

4. Keep the number of spectators as low as possible

I know, I know, everyone loves a group shot and this is the time when everyone loves to take images but hear me out there are good reasons for asking any guests not involved in your group shots to continue enjoying themselves elsewhere.

a) Distraction – watching and listening to what guests behind the photographer are doing is a massive distraction which causes you and your guests to look away from the camera.  This equals more time spent waiting for everyone to look the right way and repeat images being needed, meaning it takes longer to get through the images and less time to enjoy the party.

b) Noise – many guests chatting behind your photographer makes lots of noise meaning it becomes much harder for everyone in the shot to hear your photographers instructions and leads to more time being needed to get everyone in place and doing the right thing.


c) Guests can get in your professional photographers way.  Yep you heard it right.  Everyone wants a good view so they creep forward round the edges, horseshoe style and get into the edges of shots.  Guests may also stand directly behind your photographer and block the space your photographer needs to properly compose the shot.  It’s possible your photographer may need to spend almost as much time managing the guests behind them as they do taking photographs.

d) Not everyone likes an audience, especially if they don’t like having their photo taken at the best of times so fewer spectators can equal greater comfort for those involved.

e) How many copies of the same picture do you need?  You’ve employed a professional photographer to take these photos for you so its far better to let your guests know you’ll share the group shots and encourage them to enjoy themselves at the reception.

5. Let your photographer guide you

Choosing the location for your group shots can be tough and it’s possible that your dream location may not provide you with the best images.  It might be that the sunlight is just to bright and your guests will all be squinting into the sun or that the space is backlit and you desperately want to capture the scenery behind you as well as having beautiful expressions on your families faces.  A sudden downpour might mean that photographs outside are no longer an option.

Please listen to your photographer, our concern is primarily producing the very best images we can in the current lighting and weather conditions.  This may mean that an alternative location or time needs to be considered. 


6. make time for some fun Photographs

When you think of formal group shots it usually conjures up images of static held poses and whilst there’s a place for these in each wedding portfolio I believe there’s space for some fun images too.

I’m a big fan of movement in my images and always try to include something that gets everybody moving or reacting in some way.  It’s a great way of making you all look relaxed and takes away some of the stiffness found in traditional held poses.

I also find that unlike traditional group shots where everyone is looking at the camera images of groups where you are looking at each other or not directly at the camera give a better sense of connection and togetherness.

These fun shots work particularly well with the wedding party images and is why I’d recommend leaving them to the end of your group shot list.


Need more wedding or photography advice?

For real weddings, inspiration and tips check out our blog.

The Best Lake District Wedding Venues

The Best Lake District Wedding Venues


Top Lake District Wedding Venues

To be able to view these epic Lake District wedding photos at their best be sure to turn your mobile phone on it’s side!

The North Western Lake District area covers Muncaster Castle on the west coast stretching as far East as Keswick and the Borrowdale Valley and reaching as far north as Wigton.  This North West Corner is much quieter that the rest of the region although that doesn’t mean it has any less charm!  In fact, you can still find everything the Lake District is famous for including England’s highest mountain; Scafell Pike which stands at 3206ft and the deepest lake, Wastwater both in the remote valley of Wasdale.  Also within the area you can find the lakes of Ennerdale, Loweswater, Crummock water and Buttermere so there’s plenty of scope for those dramatic pictures.  If it’s quirky you’re after why not take all of your guests on the famous ‘Lal Ratty’ at Ravenglass and Eskdale Steam Railway.

If you choose to visit the area there are plenty of things for your family to do while you explore wedding venues.  If you love gin the Lakes Distillery is fab, they also serve great food from their onsite brasserie.  For the beer drinkers Jennings Brewery in Cockermouth is a good bet. There are a good variety of walks for all levels, historical sites at Ravenglass and Maryport for the Romans and for the literary lovers amongst you, Cockermouth is the birthplace of William Wordsworth.

Best Barn Lake District Wedding Venues

Low Hall, The Lakes | Low House Farm | Three Hills Barn | Howgills Bunk Barn | Park House Barn | Paddock Barn | Eden Barn | Longlands at Cartmel | Yew Tree Farm

Best Micro Wedding Venues in  the Lake District and Cumbria 

Overwater Hotel | Hause Hall | Cote How | Low Hall The Lakes, Bristowe Hill |  |Leatheshead Country House Hotel, Low House, Heather Glen Hotel, Calthwaite Hall, Melmerby Hall, Blencowe Hall, Lancrigg, Swan Hotel,  Rydal Mount, Holbeck Ghyll,Miller Howe, Hillthwaite House,   Linthwaite House, The Ryebeck, Lindeth Howe Country House Hotel, Beech Hill Hotel,   Whitewater Hotel,  The Swan, Lakeside Hotel,  

Best Lakeside Lake District Wedding Venues

Lodore Falls Hotel |  Another Place The Lake| Leeming House Hotel| Glenridding House| Inn on the Lake| Sharrow Bay | Cragwood Country House Hotel

Best Castle Wedding Venues in Cumbria

Appleby Castle | Augill Castle | Greystoke Castle | Naworth Castle | Muncaster Castle

Best Small Country House Lake District Wedding Venues

Brantwood | Hawsewater Hotel | 

Best Stately Home Lake District Wedding Venues

Askham Hall | Knipe Hall | Armathwaite Hall Hotel | Lingholm Estate | Warwick Hall | Dalston Hall Hotel | The Samling |  Langdale Chase | Storrs Hall | Abbey House | Belmount Hall | Holker Hall | Forest Side Hotel

Best Alternative Lake District and Cumbria Wedding Venues

Hidden River Cabins | Kirklinton Hall | Castletown Woodland Weddings | Brockhole on Windermere | Carlisle Racecourse | Eden Golf Club | Windermere Boat Racing Club | Cartmel Racecourse | Carus Green Golf Club | Helena Thompson Museum | Wordsworth House | Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery | Coppermines Lakes and Cottages

Coastal – Seacote Hotel – St Bees

Urban –      – Keswick, Cumbria Park Hotel – Carlisle, Old Town Hall – Carlisle, Crown & Mitre Hotel – Carlisle, The Halston – Carlisle, The Hallmark – Carlisle, Morton Manor – Carlisle, Carlisle Registration Office, The George Hotel – Penrith,  North Lakes Hotel – Penrith, Rothay Manor Hotel – Ambleside, Waterhead Hotel – Ambleside,  Windermere Hydro Hotel, Old England Hotel, Burnside Hotel, The Belsfield Hotel, Fairfield Lane Masonic Hall – Barrow-in-Furness,  Ye Old Fleece – Kendal, Kendal Town Hall, 

6 Tips for your Family Photo Session

6 Tips for your Family Photo Session

6 Tips for your Family Photo Session

Book Your Photoshoot

Top Tips for your Lake District Family Photo Session

One of the questions I hear most frequently is, What can I do to make my Lake District family photo session more enjoyable?  Read on for some helpful tips. 

Now kids and partners are not usually bothered about a photo shoot, even one based outdoors in the beautiful Lake District and well, frankly, can be a little bit grumpy about doing something they would rather not do, so I thought i’d put together some hints and tips that will help ease the situation.

Tips for your Family Photo Shoot

1. Comfort Breaks

Before we start (especially at an outdoor location) make sure everyone has been to the loo.  I do try to make sure I know were the local facilities are however, this is the Lake District and they are often quite far away. 

I know going to the loo is really obvious however this can cause discomfort and embarrassment if you don’t.  There’s nothing worse than being miles from anywhere and needing the loo, if you catch my drift?  Wild wees are not for the fainthearted! 

2. Snack Time

 Again this might seem to be a no-brainer.  Kids, our partners and ourselves have all been known to get a little hangry when we need food so snacks (preferably ones which don’t stick in your teeth) are a must.  Ideally, make sure that there is minimal rubbish and that any waste can be carried to the nearest bin.  Our aim is to keep the countryside beautiful for everyone.

On a side note, chocolate covered faces can make for cute photos but baby wipes might be needed for the clean up!

3. Thirst Quenchers 

The same goes for drinks.  No-one functions at their best when they are dehydrated so drinks are a must.  Just be careful to balance this with the toilet situation!

Drinks, like food, can provide a useful distraction – see point 4 – when things aren’t quite going to plan.  They also act as a calming moment and can help to change the tempo of the photo shoot e.g. moving from fast paced action to more contemplative time. 

lake district family photo session, cumbria family photo session

4. Distractions

Young children can become upset or frustrated for a number of reasons and nothing is more stressful than your dearest being red-faced and tearful when you’re trying to get the perfect family photo.  I mean, you’re determined that everyone is happy and smiley, right?  Relax about this, things don’t always go to plan.  It’s a good idea to bring something small like a teddy or toy car which will distract them before behaviour takes a turn for the worst.  Likewise don’t ban your teenagers mobile phone.

5. Sporting Events

And finally, for the sports fans in our lives… If your other half or children love sport try not to book your Cumbria family photo session during important games/matches.  We’ve all been to those special occasions where the fans stand outside with the only signal they can get following the ins and outs of the FA Cup final on their phones!  True story!

6. Family Photography in the Lake District & Cumbria

It’s worth noting that for any outdoor family photo-shoot in the Lake District and Cumbria, waterproofs and appropriate footwear are essential.  You never know what the day could throw at you from becoming suddenly overcast with cold winds to boggy paths, jumping over stiles and kids that just want to splash in the water.  We recommend you bring these to your photo session regardless of the location or time of year.

Need more family photography advice?

For real families, inspiration and tips check out our blog.

Askham Hall Wedding

Askham Hall Wedding

Askham Hall Wedding

Is my date free?

Winter Wedding photography at Askham Hall

A day of gorgeous wedding photography at Askham Hall in Cumbria is not something many Lake District wedding photographers would say no to! Particularly when it is a styled shoot set up by the amazing team at Aspire Photography Training and Tebbey and Co. 

Emma Tebbey of Tebbey & Co was inspired by the muted colours found inside Askham Hall.  Wanting to produce a scheme that is sympathetic to the colours of the house and the availability of flowers during the winter season she chose soft pastels with pops of blue. 

Emma’s defining mantra for this design was “Everything links to conditions, flowers and fruit available and at their peak at this time of year.”

The subdued tones and soft styling of the gorgeous Jesus Peiro wedding dress and vintage hair accessories together with gorgeous details, flowers, rings and champagne coupes all added to the laid-back vintage charm of a bye gone era.



Weddings at Askham Hall

Askham Hall is one of the premier wedding venues in the Eden Valley.  Next to the River Lowther, it is a cosy home from home with manicured lawns and it’s own kitchen garden.

The staff are very experienced at hosting weddings and can work with you to accommodate your needs whether you choose to get married at one of the local churches (there are two nearby)  or on site there are plenty of choices.

Within Askham Hall you can choose to get married in their Bank Barn, Medieval Hall, outdoor Garden Pavillion or if you are having a small and intimate affair or elopement you could choose the Hall for your mid-week wedding.

Wedding Photography at Askham Hall

So, you’re interested in getting married at Askham Hall which must mean you’re interested to know where are good places to have your photograph taken too right?  You’ll be pleased to know that Askham Hall has loads of places that will provide you with beautiful imagery. 

Imagine yourself walking down the grand staircase, the train of your wedding dress trailing romantically behind.  Stunning shots can be captured from above and below.  The staircase might even provide a great place for your group shot in case the weather is less than kind! 

The rest of the house is equally full of beautiful old details such as the library where our bridal portraits have been shot.  There are plenty of outdoor places in gardens, including the old gypsy caravan on the lawns and the gorgeous kitchen gardens we’ve used in this shoot.


Wedding Suppliers used in the Askham Hall Wedding Photoshoot

To be able to bring you all the wonderful inspiration you see here I work closely with the wedding suppliers photographing their amazing work.  Many of these suppliers used in this shoot are local to the Lake District and Cumbria providing many happy couples with their wedding day wishes.  For information and links to all suppliers involved please see below.

Gorgeous Supplier Info




Design & Styling


Table Stationery

Invitation Suite

Calligraphy & Custom Monogram

Wedding Dress 1

Wedding Dress 2

Wedding Dress Supplier



Hair Accessories


Wool Wrap

Grooms Suit

Radiance Photography

Askham Hall, Cumbria

Leigh Ann Newburn & Simon Tebbey

Tebbey & Co

Made in Flowers

Jill Liley

Gee Brother Sprinters

Moon & Tide

Jesus Peiro (worn by model)

Watters (hanging)

Mia Bridal

Arabelle Brusan

Lucy Pearson


Stylists own

Oubas Knitwear


Tablescape, Drinks Reception and Cake Station Details

Crockery, Cutlery & Glassware

Champagne Coupes

Candlesticks & Tealight Holders



Askham Hall

Narrative Hire

Narrative Hire & Askham Hall

Goods For Gatherings

Photography | Radiance Photography

Venue | Askham Hall

Models | Leigh Ann Newburn & Simon Tebbey

Design & Styling | Tebbey & Co

Flowers | Make in Flowers

Table Statonery | Jill Liley

Invitation Suite | Gee Brother Sprinters

Calligraphy & Custom Monogram | Moon & Tide

Wedding Dress 1 | Jesus Peiro (worn by model)

Wedding Dress 2 | Watters (hanging)

Wedding Dress Supplier | Mia Bridal

Rings | Arabelle Brusan

HMUA | Lucy Pearson

Hair Accessories | Vintage

Shoes | Stylist’s own

Wool Wrap | Oubas Knitwear

Grooms Suit | Vintage

Tablescape, Drinks Reception & Cake Station details:

Crockery, Cutlery & Glassware | Askham Hall

Champagne Coupes | Narrative Hire

Candlesticks & Tealight Holders | Narrative Hire & Askham Hall

Candles | Goods For Gatherings


Need more advice?

For real weddings, inspiration and tips check out our blog.




Sustainability in Radiance Photography

Sustainability as a business and a way of life has been coming to the forefront of the wedding industry for a while and has been important to us as a family for even longer.


Sustainability is an issue that is hot right now, particularly within the wedding industry, and I intend to share all the things we do here at Radiance Photography to increase sustainability.

Ways in which we are sustainable

1. Choose wisely, Recycle Everything

The biggest difference we can make to help our planet is reducing our use of our precious resources and generally making the world a better place is in our personal lives.

This means in practice we avoid excess packaging and choose natural, bio-degradable materials where possible for instance I recently swapped cotton wool pads for reusable bamboo ones. 

We recycle everything we can from paper and plastic to glass and electricals. 

One of the most precious resources we have is food.  This is something we try really hard not to waste as there are so many people both in the UK and across the world who are hungry.  We’re currently investigating composting to make the best use of our food waste.

We also work to reduce our energy consumption at home and car share to get to work.

2. Radiance Photography

Within Radiance Photography, we use as little paper as possible and are currently looking into ways to go paperless through the use of online contract signing and all email communication.

We deliver galleries using an online system instead of using prints and USBs.  Doing this we avoid unnecessary paper and printing and also the use of plastics and resources in the USBs. 

We’re aware the use of the internet and the vast storage networks needed have an impact on the environment and use companies with great sustainability policies where possible.

We use public transport when we can although this is sometimes tricky in the Lake District.  If we can, car sharing is always a preferred option.

3. Supporting our local economy

Wedding photography within the UK has changed over recent years with local areas being widened.  In particular by photographers who want photos with epic backdrops in their portfolios and who are prepared to travel the length of the country or fly abroad to get them.  

Travelling the length and bredth of the UK and the world causes significant land and air miles to be accumulated when a local photographer could have done a similar job.  Remember there are lots of photographers in each area who are producing work in a variety of styles so you’re sure to find something you like.

You could argue that you will get a better service from a local photographer as they have connections with other local suppliers and invaluable local knowledge for that perfect picture. 

I’ve been booked to second shoot for a photographer from across the country purely on the basis that I have knowledge of the local area.  When travelling from outside the area photographers don’t always have the time to come and checkout your venue beforehand as they are just too busy or it’s too far.


We PRIORITIZE our photography work within our local area of Cumbria and the Lake District which keeps our mileage to a minimum.

4. Giving back

We truly believe that the Lake District is one of the most precious areas in Britian and we are grateful that we live next door to such a beautiful place.

Rather than choose a carbon offsetting scheme which, while benefitting our planet, doesn’t impact directly on our local area, our intention in 2020 is to get outdoors and volunteer for the Lake District National Park Authority.

The National Park Authority do lots of wonderful work repairing trails, maintaining the landscape, helping nature and other projects which help conserve and keep the beautiful area we live in that way for others to enjoy.

If this is something you’d be interested in too you can find more information here.

5. Suppliers we work with

The suppliers we use for our equipment, products and printing all have their own sustainability policies and work in ways to use our planets resources in an ethical way.  Many have carbon offsetting schemes.


Need more wedding or photography advice?

For real weddings, inspiration and tips check out our blog.

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