Following a lovely wedding in the heart of Somerset, we’ve had a few people asking “How do they do that?” when it comes to taking photographs which are composited together afterwards in Photoshop from multiple exposures.
In a nutshell, we take several photographs and in each one light a different subject (or family group in this instance). Here, my assistant moves from group to group with an off camera speedlight mounted in a softbox on a pole. Here is the final photograph with 26 people in 9 groups, shot in 13 exposures:

Multiple Exposure Composite Wedding PhotographMultiple Exposure Composite Wedding Photograph

The benefit of this is that not everyone in the photograph has to be present there at a single moment in time. A great reason to shoot like this if there are young children running around! As well as always being able to achieve the shot you want.
We’d planned to shoot here during a visit to the venue some days before the wedding. On the day the sunlight was really harsh, effectively cutting the foreground and background in half. I was aiming for a natural ‘informal formal’ photograph – not a ‘Victorian line up’, with groups or couples behaving naturally. The huge dynamic range of the Nikon D800 which I was shooting this with allowed me to recover the detail – and of course I was shooting RAW,

The camera need not always be fixed to a tripod, but here there were multiple exposure to light – it works better ‘off tripod’ if you only have, say, 2 exposures as this is much easier to ‘auto align’ in Photoshop afterwards! Plus if it’s tripod mounted for these larger group shots you can physically walk over and arrange the group.
Don’t forget to shoot a base exposure without anyone in the shot, as this can be used to pull detail in and out later on during the Photoshop editing.

Composite Wedding Photograph – Multiple ExposuresThe individual ‘raw’ shots making up a multi exposure composite wedding photograph.

Above you can see the multiple exposure ‘original’ and un-photoshopped images which were used in the composite photograph. My assistant is moving around from group to group with the off camera speedlight, whilst people come and go from the shot.

I hope you’ve found this useful. I’m happy to add to it if anyone has questions or suggestions 🙂

Rich