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Apr 20, 2020

The Only Family Portrait Checklist You Need


The most frantic emails that ever arrive in my inbox are from couples trying to make their lists for family formal portraits. Nobody knows where to start, what is “normal”, and how long they should plan for them to take. And the truth is that nothing is really “normal” when it comes to family portrait shot lists because all families are unique. BUT, if you’re looking for a “standard” list to start from, this is for you.

Now, when you’re making a family portrait shot list it is REALLY important to keep in mind the amount of time you have/want to spend on these. Every minute you spend taking family portraits is a minute you’re keeping your family from food and booze, so you want to be concise and efficient. Each photo grouping you add to your list will take between 2 and 3 minutes, so I always recommend to my couples that they limit their list to 10-12 groupings to avoid a total mutiny from your families.

So here it is – 12 standard family portrait groupings to help you make your list:

1.) Couple with any/all grandparents

2.) Couple with partner #1’s extended family

3.) Couple with partner #1’s immediate family

4.) Couple with partner #1’s parent(s)

5.) Couple with partner #1’ siblings

6.) Couple with all parents

7.) Couple with both immediate families

8.) Couple with all siblings (including in-laws. They are your siblings too)

9.) Couple with partner #2’s extended family

10.) Couple with partner #2’s immediate family

11.) Couple with partner #2’s parent(s)

12.) Couple with partner #2’s siblings

Depending on the size of your families (and how well the cooperate) the above list should take 30-35 minutes which is a very reasonable time for family portraits.

NOW, some things to consider:

  • If you have divorced/remarried parents it is VERY IMPORTANT that you tell your photographer if you want separate portraits with each, or if they get along well and one portrait all together will do

  • You may notice that all of the above groupings are “couple with…” instead of just each partner with the designated grouping. If you do a first look we will get all of the “partner #1 with their parents, partner #2 with their parents, etc.” photos done before the ceremony (time permitting). This is another great reason to do a first look. It hugely cuts down on the amount of time you have to spend post-ceremony taking family portraits. If you decide against a first look and still want individual partner family portraits you just need to consider the amount of time that will add to family portrait time, and take away from your own newlywed portrait time.

  • Grandparents. In my opinion these are some of the most important portraits you can take on your wedding day. If you have grandparents attending your wedding I think it is totally necessary + reasonable to add a couple portraits to the list so each of you have photos of you individually with your grandparents. If this applies to you we can talk about it when you work on your questionnaire.

  • Lastly, piggybacking off of my previous point, family portraits are really important. I know they are usually nobody’s favorite time of the day. They can seem boring a monotonous but I can promise you want these photos. This is another reason I 100% encourage all of my couples to consider a first look. It is the perfect way to make sure you have plenty of portraits of just the two of you while still making the time for the important family portraits you will want to have down the road.



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