KB Image Photo » Milwaukee Wisconsin Wedding Photography

For the love of formals

Ah, formals.  That’s what we wedding photographer types call the pictures that you stand around in straight lines after the ceremony.  In the church, most often done on the altar with the church lady glaring at you and tapping her foot impatiently reminding you that confession starts in 5 minutes and you need to be out of there!

Here’s a confession..I used to hate them.  So much so that until I got the formals done a gigantic huge knot was in my stomach.  Why?  Another secret:

Nobody likes them.  Groomsmen hate em.  Bridesmaids hate em.  Parents hate doing them, but want them.  I think the only people who like them are grandparents.

As I have evolved in my career I’ve learned a few things about formals.  I don’t care how Photojournalistic/Fashion Based/Documentary you are, if you can’t produce a well lit formal for your clients you need to admit it and seek counseling from your nearest photo school/seminar/Facebook  photo newbie selling a PDF about lighting  (kidding about that last one…kind of) and learn how to light a formal.  You need to learn about correct posing, the right lens choice to not make the bridesmaid on the end look fat, how to expose for the dress and the tux and how to finesse rowdy groomsmen.  It’s a seriously important part of this job.  These photos, while not particular stunning in execution or composition provide a historical documentation of the people that are the most important in the bride and grooms life.

Did you read that last part? “the people that are the most important in the bride and grooms life.”

Yeah.  That’s freaking huge.  It’s your job to make sure these people are represented in photos.

And here’s another dirty little secret.  People BUY those photos.   I love a good moment.  It’s what drives me as a photographer.  My clients love the moment photos.  But guess what mom buys for the most part?  The formals. And when momma ain’t happy, no one is.  They buy the moments, too…but for sure they are buying that great photo of the bride and groom and their grandparents, who might not be on this earth this time next year.

This post was inspired by my clients Melissa and Arnold and they don’t even know it.  Even further, it was inspired by Melissa’s Maid of Honor Jessica who recently placed an order for this photo.


When I was processing orders and saw that Jessica had ordered this photo, I cackled with glee  like my mother.  I was so tickled that she ordered a 8×10 (IN BLACK AND WHITE, PEOPLE) of this photo. No one EVER orders formals in Black and White and I have such a love for black and white  that I loved Jessica all the more for it.

It made me think..I would LOVE a photo of me and my BFF like this.  I have no idea what I said that made them laugh like that…they may not have any idea either.

It’s a not so formal formal.

So go shoot yourself some kick ass formals.  And some not so formal formals.

It’s all important in this crazy thing we call a wedding.



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Jessica - March 7, 2012 - 2:03 pm

This made my heart smile! This is by far my favorite photo of all the wedding photos. I love black and white photography because I think it forces you to see something you wouldn’t see because you’re looking at the subject of the photograph and not all the stuff around it. (Trust me, there is a lot of STUFF on that alter behind us! With bright red carpet!)

This was also a direct representation of Melissa and I. We laugh, a lot. What preceded this moment was us actually saying something to the effect of “this is just not us”..(as in, most of the time when we are taking pictures of each other we are often making faces, funny gestures etc) so I think I walked in the shot doing one of those funny things and thus the laughing ensued.

I think I only bought one formal because you almost feel like you have to (We came, we saw, we bought the photo). But even the formal shots of the bridal party are funny because if you watch the best man, he literally stays exactly the same for 4 shots.

I give you high compliments, you were very easy to be around, and had great positive energy. It seemed natural having you around snapping away without it being intrusive (even in that tiny room at the church). Which is pretty important on someone’s wedding day. I was impressed with the shots, and just pleased overall with you. Many well wishes, you deserve it!

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