A Guide to Taking Group Shots

Group photos are very popular and knowing how to take them is a great advantage, especially if you are planning to be an event photographer. From regular family events to activities like sports games, to weddings and other special occasions, the opportunities to take them are always available. However, photographing a lot of people in one shot can be quite a challenge. There are a lot of elements that might be hard to control, such as hyperactive children.

Here are a few simple guidelines that can help you with taking group photos:

1. Location – the place is important because it provides the photo context and it can either enhance the shot or distract the viewer. Check where you want the group to pose and get rid of distracting objects that might block your subjects from being seen or cause them discomfort while they pose. Make sure there is enough space in the location to fit everyone comfortably. Good lighting is also essential. If you are outdoors and the sun is too bright, pick a shady location. If you will be there all day, wait until it gets cloudy or shoot in the afternoon when the sun's rays are mellower. For indoor group shots, make sure you have sufficiently lighted everyone. Stay away from mirrors and windows glass when using a flash because the light can reflect back to the camera and can ruin your shot.

2. Take control – some direction from you is required if you want everyone to cooperate for the group shot. Get everyone's attention and communicate what you want them to do but be friendly and polite. Larger groups are harder to control so the quicker you are in getting everyone to cooperate, the better the chances that you'll get the shot you want. As mentioned earlier, children might pose a challenge but you can ask for help from their parents or nanny to keep them still at least for a few seconds.

3. Timing – know the best time to take the group shot. For formal shots, it is best to shoot before the party gains momentum since everyone is still looking their best. Also, there are instances when people just naturally group together as they mingle. It is your chance to introduce yourself, tell them the reason for the shot and then take their picture without much effort on both sides.

4. Get closer – If the group is small, you can get closer to them and take head and shoulder shots rather than full body shots. This will make their faces more visible and detailed and can really bring life to the shot. Instead of forming them into a single line which might crowd the people at the ends in the frame, have some of them move behind the others while keeping them seen by the camera.

5. Positioning – when taking group shots, it is vital that everyone can be seen no matter how big a group it is. The usual method is to place taller people behind shorter ones and have them visible between the spaces created by the people in front. If the event is for a birthday celebrant or a wedding couple, make them the point of focus by placing theme at the middle of the setup or at the foreground. Look for different ways the people can interact aside from everyone looking straight at the camera. This makes the poses more natural rather than rigid. For large groups, you might have to step further away to include everyone in the shot. Another tactic is to elevate your viewpoint such as by standing on top of stairs, using a ladder, or taking the shot from the second floor balcony. By positioning yourself higher than the group, you can still encompass everyone in the shot without having to go further back and losing more details.

6. Smile – you might keep asking your subjects to smile for the camera but you should also smile, too. Smiles are contagious and when others see your cheerful demeanor, it relaxes them and makes it easier for them to offer you a genuine smile rather than a fake smirk.

7. Use a tripod – a tripod can save you a lot of time and gives you freedom when preparing your shot. You can adjust your camera settings and then leave the camera on the tripod while you walk to the group to direct them with their poses. As soon as everything is ready, all you have to do is go back to the camera and press the shutter-release button after doing a quick check with the viewfinder or LCD. Another great advantage of having a tripod is now you can include yourself in the group shot. Leave a space in the group pose for yourself, set the camera timer and then join your family or friends as the camera captures this special occasion.

This entry was posted on Sunday, May 30th, 2010 at 11:42 am and is filed under Articles, Beginner Tutorials, Composition, Photography Basics, Photography Techniques, Photography Tutorials. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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