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Formal Portraits: A Well-Organized Shoot

Martha Stewart Weddings, Winter 2000

During the event itself, the key word for everyone involved in the photography is patience. The various groups being photographed have to be gathered together, primped, and arranged. Some couples see this as an opportunity to enjoy the company of small subsets of their guests, in an intimate setting. New York City-based photographer Kaija Berzins Braus remembers it as the best part of her own wedding day: "It was time that I got to spend apart with my soon-to-be spouse and to truly realize what was happening." The peaceful quality of her experience suggests a well-organized shoot, which is not difficult to achieve as long as the participants are in place, on time. One person's wandering off can delay the whole affair, so someone should be in charge of collecting people "on deck" before their turn has come. Sometimes the photographer will have an assistant who can do this; the wedding planner, or even an efficient member of the bridal party, can also help. The arranging should be quick and somewhat casual to avoid having everyone set up stiffly like a collection of bowling pins. Some of the best poses arise from the cast of characters' being allowed to pose themselves. Finally, once the photographer starts to take pictures, remember that he will be taking a lot of them during each set-up. A minimum is five or six, but a large group requires as many as 20 or more. These extra shots are insurance against the inevitable: blinking, sneezing, and anything else that might detract from the captured moment.

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