The Ultimate Guide to Photographing a Wedding – The Groom Coverage
If you’re about to shoot your first wedding or just looking for some inspiration when it comes to photographing the groom coverage, this article can definitely help!
This is a no fluff, easy to follow detailed guide explaining everything you need to know about photographing a groom’s coverage!
If this is the first post you are checking out on my website and you are new to photographing weddings, I suggest you read the following two articles to familiarise yourself with the basics first. Once you have smashed through those, then you’re ready to continue.
A day in the life of a wedding photographer on shoot day!
Basic things you should have done before the wedding day!
In most cases the groom coverage is the first part of your wedding shoot so it’s super important to get off to an awesome start and totally nail it!
Before we get into all the details I quickly want to go over a few quick points that should have been done before the wedding day:
You have met (or called, or skyped) the couple for a pre wedding meeting and gone through all the details
You have a schedule of the day
You know the address of where the groom will be getting ready
You know the start and end times
You have made notes of the groomsmen’s names, as well as Mum and Dads names
You have sussed out who will be at the grooms place, so you can be prepared if there are 50+ family members there!
You know if there will be anything traditional happening, for example, tea ceremony, dancing, band playing music, shaving grooms face with an axe! etc etc
You know if the parents are still together or not. This is good to know so you don’t end up trying to create any awkward family photos with rivalling parents who want to kill each other!
You have checked the location of the groom’s house (or wherever he and his crew are getting ready) on Google Maps and made sure you leave with enough time to get there early.
And of course you have batteries charged, cards cleared, lenses wiped clean and petrol in the car ready for an awesome, problem-free, fun day 🙂
Groom Coverage: Broken Down Into 9 Sections
The following information and examples describe (in my opinion) everything that should be captured while with the groom and the boys getting ready before the ceremony.
I know every wedding is different, every couple is different and every photographer is different so these ideas might not apply to everyone. Regardless, I still like to have the following information memorised so that no matter what happens at the groom’s house I will always be prepared, and:
I have plenty of ideas up my sleeve and never find myself stumbling
I get as much variety as possible
I know nothing has been missed so there is nothing for the couple to complain about
And, I have the photos I need to be able to upgrade their wedding album (more about wedding albums in a future post)
So, let’s get started!
1. Arriving and Introductions
First thing, because you are a punctual photographer, you have arrived to the groom’s location about 5 minutes early!
Before walking in I always like to get a few shots from the outside to set the scene and create a nice intro to the groom coverage.
Take some pics of the house, the house number and any other cool details that you see. At some Asian weddings there are firecrackers or Chinese symbols on the house. Sometimes it’s something super cute like a sign or a ribbon on the door. Make sure you get this stuff!
Time to head inside. Remember, first impressions count, so when you walk through the door make sure you are in a good mood, smiling and just generally be happy to be there, because you should be happy to be there! You have the best job in the world and the couple have invited you to be a part of the most important day of their lives!!
Introduce yourself to everyone, meet the groomsmen, say hi to the parents and anyone else (within reason, as sometime there are 50+ people there) and let them know you’re the photographer. Woohoo, it’s time to get started!
2. Get the Details
I always like to start with the details. This gives me some time to chill out before the action starts, suss out the scenery, check out the house and also gives the bridal party a bit more time to prepare for being photographed.
I generally shoot the details on a table or bench, ideally with a window nearby for extra light. Coffee tables, dining room tables or kitchen benches are all very good options, it just depends what you want the images to look like. Glass and marble surfaces create a nice reflection while wooden surfaces have less, it’s your call.
Here is a list of the shots I get:
Flower / button hole
The tie or bowtie
And anything else the groom wants, for example, his watch (make sure the date is correct), a tie clip, a favourite key ring etc.
3. Getting Ready & Systematic Combos
Ok, so now the fun begins and you need to be on the ball!
Once you have finished the details look around the house and find the best spot to position all the boys for the getting ready shots. I usually do the following series in one location to keep the backdrop consistent so the photos and album flow nicely.
** TIP ** Ideally this scenario would have the photographers back to a window and shooting straight ahead towards the boys. Although, usually this is not the case. Just try and find a backdrop that is clean and clutter free with even light, NO direct sun!
Shoot them as a Group
Positioning the groom in the middle, here is a list of the shots I get:
Groomsmen helping the groom with his cufflinks
Groomsmen helping the groom with his tie
Everyone putting on their vests together (if applicable)
Going a cool Roger David jacket over the shoulder shot
Everyone putting on their jackets
Couple of group shots of all the groomsmen
Shoot them as Pairs
Now that we have done a whole bunch of shots of the groomsmen together let’s break it down and get some combos! Remember, it’s all about variety, so I would get a few shots of each groomsmen with the groom as pairs.
Shoot them Individually
The pairs are done, the final piece of the puzzle are the individuals. I like to finish this section of the grooms coverage with single portraits of the groomsmen, with the groom last.
The easiest way to do this is to find a window with no crazy sun light beaming through it, and set up the dudes one by one. Have some fun with it, try and get the guys to laugh or do something silly!
Let’s finish with the groom. I like to spend a little bit more time with him just to make sure we get a few more combos.
Feel free to take your time, I get the following:
Some details again, adjusting cufflinks and maybe a close up of the tie or any other cool stuff that he is wearing
A few shots of the groom looking in different directions
A few shots of the groom looking at the camera
I also get a few headshots too at f/2.8
** TIP ** Get the groomsmen to make fun of him!
4. Family Fun
Remember to get the family shots! This is super important. Although the couple usually want candid, fun shots of the day, you still have to set up some formal family shots or the parents will kill you! This is the second biggest complaint in the wedding industry – the parents complaining that there was not enough family shots! So make sure you do it 🙂
Here is the system that I follow:
Groom with Mum
Groom with Mum and Dad
Groom with Dad
Groom with Parents and any siblings
Groom with Parents and siblings and their partners (and kids)
Groom with Parents and siblings and grandparents
Then sometimes just Groom with siblings
And also just Groom with grandparents
Lastly ask the Groom or the family if they want any other combos
5. Outside Antics
Time to have some fun outside! Get the dudes to grab their sunnies (if they have sunnies) and head out. This is a great way to change the scenery as well as make their photos and album have more variety and be more colourful.
**TIP** Have a good look around without venturing too far and find the best backdrop under the circumstances. Check where the sun is and make sure it is not creating any harsh shadows on their faces. Look at the background and make sure there are no bins, ‘for sale’ signs or anything else that looks terrible lingering around that might kill your photos.
Once you’re good to go, these are the shots I usually get:
Walking shot of all the boys
Groom in the foreground, groomsmen in the background
Groom squatting and groomsmen surrounding the groom
It’s also nice to get a few single portraits of the groom solo looking awesome!
6. Off Camera Light HERO Shots
So, the good news is you have already done portraits of the groom in front of the window (natural light indoors) as well as some portraits of the groom outside (natural light OR flash outside). Now if you have the gear and you’re up for it, why not have a bit of fun with a video light or off camera flash.
If you’re using a video light, then setup a room in the house to make your scene awesome! Turn off the ceiling lights, close the blinds and turn on some lamps. This will give the room a nice warm glow, and in combination with the video light will give you some really amazing portraits of the groom.
This is where you can really get your creative juices flowing and get some ‘hero’ shots. These may be the images that define your style as well as separate you from the other photographers.
Off Camera Flash
If you’re using off camera speed light or something more powerful like an Elinchrom Quadra then you can get some really cool stuff outside. Have some fun with it, setup the groom against different backdrops. Try positioning the groom with the sun behind him, which would usually create a silhouette, but with a bit of flash work you can get some super awesome commercial looking portraits.
Here is some stuff that I like to shoot:
7. Time for a Drink!
We are almost at the end of the groom coverage, well done, you’re killing it! 🙂 This is one of the final things I shoot before heading off. It’s been fun, why not crack open a beer or pour some whiskey. Whatever their poison, let’s get some shots of the groom and his best buds having a drink and cheers’ing to the grooms final moments as a single man!
If you can, try and find one more location for this, either inside or outside, it’s just nice to mix it up for variety. It doesn’t need to be anything crazy as the expressions will make the shot, but just change the location one last time.
Here are the shots I usually get:
A close up of all the drinks touching
A wide angle of all the boys looking at the camera doing a cheers
A variety of shots of the boys laughing and interacting
And finally a bunch of individual shots of the boys doing a cheers towards the camera
8. Any Requests??
The very last thing I do before packing up is asking the groom if there is anything else he wants. Any special requests or anything else at all. 99% of the time he will say no, because you already got it all using the system above 🙂 but it’s always nice to ask and make sure.
You will most likely find that he will be thanking you because he had so much fun and praising you on how professional you were!
9. Get Outta There!
Grab all your gear, make sure everything is there and nothing has been forgotten or left behind. I’ve left a flash at a grooms house a couple of times and will never make that mistake again!
Another good tip is to change your cards at this point. You probably just shot 150 frames and it time to switch cards and get a fresh one ready for the bride’s coverage.
Say goodbye to everyone, jump in the car, pop in the coordinates for the bride’s house and hit the road!!
THANKS so much for reading!!
Thanks everyone so much for reading my first post of this 5 part series: The Ultimate Guide to Photographing a Wedding: The Groom Coverage.
I hope there has been some information here that can help you become a better wedding photographer. I would love to know your opinion of what you thought of this post. Did I miss anything? Have you got some more suggestions? Feel free to add them in the comments below, or share this article with your photographer friends who might find it useful.