Learning how to take group photos can seem like a daunting task, especially if there will be a lot of people in the shot. There are many tips for group photos out there, and in this article, we’ll learn some basic techniques that amateur photography enthusiasts can use to ensure more professional results. From preparation to equipment and posing choices, we’ll explore the entire process from beginning to end.
1. Timing is Everything
Aiming to shoot in the evening hour before sunset with your group positioned in a way that won’t have people squinting is important. Checking the weather a day or two ahead of time and choosing an alternate foul weather location are other useful tips for taking group photos. If the photo is being taken around the time of a reunion or special occasion, choosing an alternate date may not be an option.
2. Choose the Right Backdrop
Make sure you select a scenic area that will not detract too much from the subjects. Beaches, treed areas, beautiful landscapes are all great locations as long as the background isn’t too elaborate and make the people stand out. Also stay away from shaded areas from tree branches or other objects will be cast across faces.
3. Plan Outfits Ahead of Time
One of the best tips for photographing groups is to pay attention to what the subjects are wearing. An elaborate background calls for solid colors that won’t compete with faces to get noticed in the photo. Many people choose casual white shirts with khaki bottoms, but this highly depends on the occasion. As a general rule, the clothing should make people stand out and highlight their best traits. Nevertheless, colors that are too bright will distract viewers from the group; remember this is not fashion photography.
However, avoid over-coordinating the group when it comes to outfits – or anything, really. For example, don’t have everyone in the group wear the exact same outfit as that may later look tacky and dated. Instead, opt for timeless styles and colors, but ask/inform the customers regarding this decision.
4. Inspect Twice, Shoot Once
One of many tips for taking group photos that is often overlooked is the need to have an overview of the things that may require a retake or editing. Have the most detail oriented person in the group give everyone a quick glance over with you to ensure everyone looks their best. Review photos carefully on the camera by zooming in on each person before wrapping up the shoot. The more people there are in a photo, the bigger the chance that someone’s expression or pose will ruin the shot.
5. Bring the Right Equipment
To take a good group photo, you will need a high-quality digital camera fitted with a 50 mm lens. If the group is very large, a wide angle lens may be necessary. Bring a tripod to hold the camera steady and avoid blurring the photo. One of the best tips for how to take group photos is to use a remote. This provides an extra level of insurance that the camera will stay steady as the photographer doesn’t have to push the shutter button. Although it’s best to have a person near the camera to review shots as you’re taking them, having a remote also means that the photographer can be in the picture if needed.
6. Stage the Shot
The longer the process takes, the more disengaged your subjects will become, which may be reflected in the final product; therefore, during the shoot, you must work quickly yet diligently. This is one of the often forgotten tips on how to take group photos. Do not have the heads in a straight line across the scene. This will look uninteresting. A well-composed group photo will have people standing and sitting at different levels so that there is a wide variety in the vertical positioning of smiling faces. This adds dimension to the photo providing a better final product.
7. Adjust Your Camera’s Settings
An important group shot cannot be trusted to the “auto” setting on your camera. If possible, go to the site the day before around the same time you plan to hold the shoot. This is important especially if you don’t have a lot of experience as a photographer. In general, shooting at a higher f-stop (8.0 or higher aperture) will ensure a clearer photo that will capture the details of faces. Although you won’t get a blurred background, you will get a better focus on the entire group.
8. Say Cheese!
Have some fun with the photo! Consider taking a “silly” pose and shooting candidly while the group disperses. There’s a jokester at every shoot, and you may be surprised at the moments you capture when you snap away while no one realizes it. Group families together if the group is large. This is one of the tips for taking group photos that is not mentioned a lot. It makes it easier as later generations try to identify family members in the photo. While you’re there you can also get some portrait shots of individuals and smaller groups by readjusting your settings. Often times when a group schedules a shoot like this, it is because they don’t come together very often, so they will appreciate getting plenty of photos together, especially if you’ve worked quickly and haven’t taken up much of their time.
9. Edit Wisely
Once you review the photos, hopefully, you won’t have too many changes to make, but there are tools that can make a great photo even better. You can make corrections to shadows, color adjustments, remove blemishes and red eye or even blur the background. If you’re a novice at using these programs there are helpful videos online both for Photoshop and for Lightroom, or you can get a friend or hire a professional to help you. You can also read our article on Lightroom vs. Photoshop to decide which one is right for you.
If you follow these simple pointers, you will be able to develop a plan to take an unforgettable group photo for a grateful bunch of family or friends. With some foresight and a little practice you can use these tips on how to take group photos to create lasting memories that people can cherish for generations to come.