How to take great “Group Shots” – loosen up and have fun

June 22, 2012 by

Some tips for taking great Group photos...

Some people just have a natural flair for getting the composition of their photos right. Others struggle, but there are some really simple guidelines that if followed will help you obtain a professional looking photo every time.

In this blog I want to cover some of the ways to have your subjects pose when you are taking group portrait shots. You want to make your photograph look natural, relaxed and interesting for the viewer. Don’t overwork it though.

Experiment with different variations of the following tips, have the subjects try different positions and don’t be scared to move them around a few times, taking shots of each composition. You will soon see what works best.

Arrange the people so that their heads are at different heights. This is probably the easiest way to dramatically improve your compositions for group photography. The idea is that you position the people on different levels making sure that any pattern of heights does not distract the viewer from seeing the group as being one unit.

Take a look at some professional portrait photographers’ websites and see which poses appeal to you. I learn constantly from looking at what I like and applying the same principles to my own work.

The biggest blunder when taking a group photograph is to have one of the subjects lost behind someone else. It will be one of the first things your client will point out to you when you present their photos.

Cast you eye over the whole group before looking through the view finder, then make sure you can see everyone clearly without shadows either. A good habit to develop is to tell your group, “If you can’t see the camera, then I can’t see you.” However the best rule is to check first, re-check through the view finder and then click away.

Formal group photos can appear stuffy and unnatural – it is much better, always, to capture the emotion - the connection between the people in the group, the love between family members, couples, or co-workers etc.

Above all have fun make jokes and try to get spontaneous shots. I set my camera on “continuous Low” so I shoot the same photo at 3 frames per second, that way I get 3 choices allowing for the instances where one of the group might have their eyes shut, or be looking away. It can take more time sorting through the photographs for the ones that are ‘just right” but this allows you to mask together multiple shots to fix the one person who is not looking at the camera or is covered up and certainly much better that not having any perfect ones at all.

Play around with light sources… as a novice, it is a common mistake to rely on the only light available. This can result in the people closest to the light being too brightly lit and the ones away from it being too dark. Another mistake is to position the light in such a way that it illuminates one person but causes a shadow on the person next to them. Getting the lighting right is tricky, the tip is to put the lights close to the camera but have it shine on the whole group. Have them squish up together to tighten the group and get the light to brighten them all.

Act confidently, this is probably not the first group photo you are taking; so let them sense your competence. Take leadership of the session, be professional and friendly but maintain  control or else you could have chaos on your hands. As well as a jumble of disorganised photos.

Please feel free to add your comments and tips.

I always look forward to learning from you.

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