This entry was posted on June 25, 2021.
Taking better can be challenging for one simple reason; you’re trying to capture a whole bunch of subjects as appealingly as possible at the exact same time. The bigger the group, the more difficult it becomes to take the defining shot to be proud of.
Of course, what defines an appropriate and appealing group photograph varies from subjects to scenario and purpose of the image. Though in all instances, the basic principles of taking excellent group photos are always the same.
With this in mind, here’s a brief rundown of our top 10 tips for getting it right with group photographs:
1. Prepare in advance
It’s essential to ensure that you are ready to take the shot the very moment the group has assembled.
There’s nothing more annoying, off-putting or unprofessional than being bunched together for a shot, only to find you’re put on hold; the photographer has to play with their gear, experiment with a bunch of angles or wrestle with lighting.
The longer it takes, the less likely you are to have subjects who actually want to be there. And you can imagine how that drains the quality of your group photo.
2. Carefully select the backdrop
Consider whether you want the background to be an eye-catching aspect, or keep the focus squarely on your subjects.
You can choose a setting that gives the photo appropriate context, or go for something entirely more unusual for a more thought-provoking result. Either way, always remember your backdrop plays a major role in determining the impact and appeal of resulting group shots.
3. Take plenty of photographs
Burst mode can be your best friend when shooting groups of any kind and for any purpose. This is due to the fact that getting everyone to look right (and in the right direction) at exactly the same time is never easy.
Blinking, fleeting glances to one side or the other, slight head movements, frowned faces and so on; all to be expected in plenty of the shots you take. It’s therefore essential to take plenty of shots using burst mode, before going through them and finding the best of the bunch.
4. Get in close
It can also be useful to get in as close as realistically possible when taking group shots. This is certainly more favourable than relying too much on cropping while editing your raw images.
Unless the background is of particular relevance or importance, focus on getting in close and capturing your subjects in as much detail as possible.
Feel free to experiment with different configurations (i.e. who stands where). But do your best to plan this ahead of time. That way it doesn’t look too much like you’re making things up as you go along.
5. Time your shots strategically
By strategically, we mean aiming for a time when your group shot subjects are at their most cooperative and content. From another perspective, it means – quite simply; don’t try to take group shots when those you’re photographing are tired, bored, hungry or may have been hitting the free bar a little too hard.
Aim for the times or occasions where motivation is high and you’re likely to encounter as little resistance as possible.
6. Be mindful of lighting
This will be the make-or-break factor for most of your group shots. And it can be surprisingly difficult to master; particularly if you’re looking to capture a number of faces as flatteringly as possible at the same time.
Natural light is always the best light of all. Provided you can find a spot where the entire group won’t be forced to squint in the direct sunlight.
7. Survey the venue in advance
If it’s an option, taking the time to get to know the venue inside and out will provide you with invaluable insights. You’ll know the best spots for taking group shots. You’ll have a good idea of the lighting conditions. And you’ll be able to approach the entire thing with much more confidence.
8. Communicate and give clear instructions
Confidence also plays a major role in taking quality group photographs, as confidence holds the key to clear communication.
You don’t necessarily have to be a world-class entertainer or turn the whole thing into a stand-up comedy show. You simply need to communicate clearly and successfully with the group from start to finish.
Provide them with clear instructions that are simple to follow; where to stand, when to smile, which direction to look. However, it’s just as important to avoid crossing the line and be interpreted as bossy – nobody likes a pushy photographer!
9. Hire an assistant
Having an assistant on board can help in two important ways. First of all, a little help with the inevitable crowd control duties is always welcome. Secondly, your counterpart can focus on taking all manner of candid shots of the group, while you focus on the more structured and planned shots.
Or perhaps, the other way around, if you prefer.
Oftentimes, taking fantastic group photos is all about being in the right place at the right time. It’s capturing something special in the split-second moment. Hence, strength in numbers is something that can only work in your favour.
10. Stay energetic and positive
Last but not least, the way you behave and present yourself throughout the project will have a major impact on how the group responds.
If you come across as happy, energetic, positive and glad to be there, you’ll be much more likely to gain the respect and cooperation of the group. If at any point it becomes clear you’re getting frustrated or fed up, you can expect exactly the same response from your subjects.
Even if it means gritting your teeth and smiling after hours of dealing with an unruly group, it’s in your best interests to do so!