This is serious business. We’ve all gone through so, so many different occasions where it’s all fun and games until it’s time to take a group photo. It’s not easy taking a group photo and it gets tougher when you want to make it stand out. So to state the obvious question here, just how do you take great group photos?
First we identify what are some of the problems you’d face when taking a group photo. Some of the more common problems are…
- Not Everyone Is In Sync. There’s bound to be one person or two who are looking elsewhere when the photo is being taken. This is usually due to miscommunication like not being alert to the camera person or even when having multiple photographers.
- Different Actions & Reactions. The larger the group, the harder it would be in determining that everyone’s on the same page. Should everyone be smiling or serious? Should the subjects be striking a certain pose or acting up to the camera? Dialogue between the photographer and the subjects plays a strong role to get a harmonized reaction. A photographer should communicate clearly what’s being attempted, the objective, a countdown to the shot, how much longer it will be and so forth.
- Somebody’s Blinking. Yeah… See the above points. There’s always someone.
- Too Cramped Within The Shot. Or too far away for that matter. This would usually result in someone being outside the frame or a loss in, what would otherwise be, really nice details.
So with the above issues in mind, just how do we proceed from here? Have a read through on our listed tips and tricks below to get a better grasp on taking on group photos.
While it’s always good to have nice, sweet shots of everyone posing well, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to break away from the norm for a more dynamic photograph. Try a thematic approach like colour coordination, specific poses, and so forth.
Take multiple shots as well. More often than not, it’s usually in the following snaps that you would get better results. Your subjects are a bit more relaxed, much more natural and a tad less posed. This also gives you a good feel of the shot and consideration of maybe adjusting your angles. Also, capture formal shots first before getting down with the fun ones.
People & Terrain
Pay attention to your subjects and your surroundings, both those up-close and in the distance. Put everything around you to good use as you line it up for that next shoot. Striking sceneries and dynamic backgrounds are good and so are architecture and certain props. Play it to your advantage. Take note of unsightly objects in unplanned places, like a branch in the distance popping out from behind someone.
Also be mindful of height differences between your subjects. It gets very chaotic when there’s too much of a contrast and it gets a tad dull when everyone is so aligned. A little bit of height difference gives your photo depth and is more visually pleasing. Get children to stand on objects or have adults carry the toddlers. You could even try having a two liner with some adults on the knees or sitting down. Distance between subjects can also deliver a nice effect with some people being much further than some others. Play around a bit and don’t be be afraid to experiment. It will be photos that they’ll love anyway.
Lighting Is Everything
This is more of a reminder than it is unique to group photo’s. But it can get a bit more trickier in a group. Group photos have a tendency to be shot outdoors in most cases which adds on to the lighting challenge.
It’s a good idea to do your outdoor shoots in the evening since the sun is softer and flattering, helping you avoid squinting and unsightly facial shadows. However you’ll most likely be following the group’s flow so if you are unable to get an evening shot, look out for a nice open shade and apply a flash if necessary.
Timing Done Right
Timing is everything. Well yeah lighting takes priority but this is pretty important too. It’s easier to take advantage when everyone groups together naturally (i.e. weddings and dinners) as opposed to getting them all and arranging the group; but of course the effects would be different. It’s about knowing when everyone is comfortable and how the photographer communicates to the group.
A bit more than just aligning everyone, counting to three and pressing the shutter release button, it’s about knowing how to read the crowd and when would be best to start snapping. Best thing to do here is to go for a bit of variety.
We’ve known of some pretty cheeky photographers who gets you to pose for quite awhile without him not actually taking a picture. Only when his subjects began laughing and fretting at him for pranking them would he snap away, resulting in some pretty funny unscripted moments.
Take It Up A Notch
Again, here’s a touch on getting creative. Play around with different shooting heights and angles. It’s okay to step away from the traditional horizontal shots. You could try shooting from high up levels like using chairs, ladders, stage, roofs and so forth. Otherwise take a down low shot by getting everyone to crowd around you while you lay on the ground (works best with less than 6 people). Getting them to pose on stairs isn’t a bad idea as well. Wefie’s are now very mainstream so get yourself in the picture! Needless to say, have fun with monopods and play the angles.
It’s okay to try take control when dealing with a large group. Talk to them and keep your cool, since maneuvering a large group can get a bit frustrating. Ease your subjects and the nice smiles would fall into place. It also helps children feel a bit more comfortable as they warm up. Remind your group that as a general rule, if they can see the camera, the camera can see them, but get whole faces and not just an eyeball.