Let’s face it…group photos can be a challenge. At Michael Broyles Photography, we have photographed groups large and small and each time we have encountered some common frustrations. And there are many! From people looking everywhere but at the camera to blinking eyes to a range of moods within the group, it can be hard to capture just the right moment on film. However, it is not impossible! Here are some tips and tricks to make your next group photo shoot easier, for the cameraman and his or her subjects.
Ben Franklin’s famous quote, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” is somewhat fitting when planning a group photo. The more thought put in before the photo is taken, the easier the process can be for all involved. More importantly, having a plan for your group photo means less standing around and waiting, keeping people engaged and eager to participate. Of course, every situation is different. Here are some basic things to keep in mind:
- Scope out your chosen location beforehand.
- Sketch out a simple plan for posing people and framing your shot.
- Gather everyone for the photo shoot a few minutes early to make sure no one is missing.
- Have your camera and equipment at the ready: batteries charged, camera on.
- Consider using a wide angle lens. This will make it easier to fit everyone in the picture and allow you to get closer to your subjects.
Lighting and Location Set the Scene
The two most important subjects at your photo shoot, besides the people you are photographing, are lighting and location. First, you need sufficient light to pick up on the details in photographs. If you have a choice, stage your group photo shoot in the early evening or in open shade, such as under a large tree, to avoid direct sunlight. Evening light is soft, warm, and flattering, and open shade helps you avoid harsh shadows. If you must stage your shoot during a time with direct sun, position your group so that the sun is not directly behind you (to prevent squinty eyes) and make sure light is distributed evenly across the group.
When choosing a location for your photo shoot, it is helpful to select a spot that not only fits the size of the group but helps tell a story (are you gathered for a wedding, birthday, sporting event?). That said, the location you choose should have few, if any, distractions to keep the focus of the photo on your subjects and not the background.
Posing groups of people can be a little like herding cats. To get the best shot, keep the following points in mind:
- Squeeze people in as tightly as possible. This ensures everyone is in the photo and allows you to pick up on more details in each person’s face.
- Keep the depth of the group “shallow.” The fewer lines of people from front to back, the better for keeping everyone in focus.
- Have your photo subjects raise their chins slightly to avoid a double chin effect.
- Stagger people of different heights so that everyone’s face is visible and no one gets lost in the shot. Position taller people toward the back and center, and shorter people in front and on the sides.
- Add some interest by introducing props, like chairs or ladders, that allow some people to sit, others to stand. Or stagger heights by posing the group on a staircase or a sloping lawn.
- Have adults or older children hold toddlers and infants.
Take Multiple Shots
It goes without saying that the first shot is usually never the best. People are stiff from posing, someone is always caught off guard. Taking multiple shots gives people a chance to relax into their poses and time to refocus on the camera should they become distracted. If you have the option, switch your camera to continuous shooting mode to enable you to take multiple shots very quickly. You may also consider using a zoom lens to mix up the different shots you take, some at a wide focal length and others more tightly framed.
Large groups of people can become unwieldy for one person to handle alone. To make the photo shoot less stressful for you (and your subjects!), bring an assistant or tap someone from the group to help with rounding people up, posing, and framing the shot. You may also choose to use a tripod to mount and set up your camera so that once everyone is in place, it is as simple as 1, 2, 3…click!
Have you heard? Michael Broyles Photography has a Referral Program that can help you save on your next photo session. It’s easy. Refer a friend or family member to Michael Broyles Photography and receive a $100 credit. Give us a call today to learn more about our Referral Program and to schedule a consultation.