Group Photography can be a really big challenge. First, you have to ensure everyone is in the frame. To add to this, everyone has to look great not to mention in sync with the rest or risk the whole theme falling apart. As if this is not enough, you still have to come up with some unique, next generation poses. Oh, and I’m not done, far from it. Amid all these rules, pray hard that you get a cooperative group. Otherwise you are in for one hell of a ride.
Despite all these challenges, group photography is not rocket science. It can be done! In fact, the results of this type of photography are quite fulfilling. Depending on how you carry yourself, the whole experience can be quite fun too. So, if you are looking to get ahead in the group photography game, the tips below will steer you in the right direction.
Group Photography Tip #1
Be smart about the lightening
Lighting can make or break a photo. The rule of thumb when it comes to group photos is to ensure that the whole scene, especially the subjects, are well lit. Poor lighting can make the photo dull or worse, cast shadows on the subjects hence creating a whole new mess.
Your best option is to work with natural light to get (the much desired) glow on the faces of your subjects. In this case, if it’s too sunny, ensure the sun is not straight ahead of the group. Otherwise you will end up with a bunch of photos where everyone has their eyes closes.
In most cases, using your camera flash as a light option ends up being too harsh especially on the skin and eyes.
In as much as well-lit photos are recommended, you can play around with light to create a beautiful and unique spectacle. After all, there are no rules when it comes to photography. Creativity usually triumphs it all. A case in point is one of those photos that only includes silhouettes of the subjects, usually taken in dim light such as the sunset.
Group Photography Tip #2
Timing is everything
The secret to an awesome group photo is to optimize on timing. You want to ensure you capture those unexpected moments where everyone is chill and looks amazing.
It therefore goes without saying that you will need to stay sharp to achieve this. You also have to take shots fast enough because with every passing second, expressions are changing and so does the whole photo. If you are not fast at taking photos, try using shutter release to ensure nothing gets past you.
Group Photography Tip #3
Don’t just stand there, direct
While sometimes you will be lucky enough to get a group that knows what it wants, most times everyone will be looking to you for answers. If you are too accustomed to photographing inanimate objects, this may be a challenge for you. Take it as an opportunity to nut up, direct, and get great results. Remember, 90% of photo shoots gone wrong are blamed on the photographer, so don’t shy from correcting, arranging and organizing the group to perfection.
Group Photography Tip #4
It is quite common (and disappointing) to find the same old poses and themes in group photos. If you want your clients to be satisfied not to mention blown away, you have to think out of the box when handling group photo shoots.
If you have seen or been part of a group panorama photo you have to agree with me that it looked pretty bad ass to say the least. Panorama works well for small groups, especially with landscape backgrounds.
Be sure to shoot each individual with at the same camera setting for easy synchronizing and to bring uniformity to the picture. While panorama works for many groups, be careful not to use it in the wrong context.
While still on the topic of being unique, consider taking photos from a higher ground when dealing with large groups. This will ensure everyone gets included in the frame while keeping it fresh and interesting. You can also do so some digging for some unique group photos and emulate or improvise.
Group Photography Tip #5
Don’t get carried away
I know I just told you to take charge of the shoot and be creative, but be careful not to overdo it.
Trying too hard to be creative can lead to photos that range from weird to inappropriate or worse. Keep it light but interesting.
While still on this topic, try not to get bossy while directing. It will piss off the group and oh boy, will it show in the pictures. The last thing you want is a bunch of photos full of frowns and angry snares. A good way to avoid this is to get the names of the group members and if the group is too large, a few names won’t hurt. This way you will sound less like a dictator while giving instructions.
Group Photography Tip #6
The background speaks volumes
A nice living room background for a family picture adds more flavor than when it is blurred out. Simply put, the background in group photos tells a story. So you want to pick a suitable background for different groups and include it in the picture. A good way of doing this is to use a small aperture (large f-number) so as to include the background into the picture.
Group Photography Tip #7
Avoid unnecessary free space
Leaving gaps in between individuals in a group picture can render the photo desynchronized not to mention give off a feeling uneasiness among the members. So, unless it is relevant to the group or picture, tighten things up by bringing everyone close together. This way, you avoid making the photo look empty and most importantly, portray friendliness among the members.
The thing about shooting groups is that they sense your mood pretty fast. So if you are worried or fearful, they will smell it. Just keep calm, try to have fun and trust your photography instincts. The rest will unfold naturally.
PS: We have some some nice tips for food photography as well!