Photographing groups can be extremely difficult. Usually, the need for large groups occurs at important events such as weddings, awards ceremonies, and work functions, making the job of the photographer incredibly important and oftentimes stressful. Whether there are three subjects or thirty, group photography requires us to break away from what might be our normal rules of operation and think outside the box — sometimes at the spur of the moment. Though far from exhaustive, this article offers nine tips to help you keep control of your group subjects so that you can focus on taking some great shots.

1. Be confident

Further down this list is a piece of advice that says to be funny and approachable, but it’s just as important to be authoritative. If you’re photographing an especially large group, it’s up to you to keep everyone organized, focused, and cooperative, and everyone responds to a confident, authoritative person. Project your voice, speak in definitives, point into the lens to signify where everyone needs to look.

2. Make sure each subject can see the camera with both eyes

Tips For Photographing Groups (Main Image)

The last part of that sentence is important because a lot of photographers only ask if everyone can see the camera, which means that guy behind that other guy will answer ‘yes,’ even though he can only see you with one eye. If he can see you with both eyes, it means the guy in front of him isn’t blocking half of his face.

3. Have each subject adjust the person next to them

If you are working with a big group, you’re not likely to notice any crooked ties or loose strands of hair, so ask everyone to turn to the person next to them and double-check for anything that needs to be fixed.

4. Try to work with existing light

If you don’t happen to luck out with a cloudy day and the sun is overhead, stage your subjects so that the sun is behind them.

 

Group Photography

 

5. Use multiple, bouncing flashes

If you use a straight flash, it will be used up on the front row and those faces will heat up in your final frame. No one in the back row will get the flash so their faces will be shadowed by the light hitting those in front of them. Bounce multiple flashes and light will reach every face and every row, lessening the likelihood of disparities and unattractive tones.

6. Break up similar subjects

Don’t allow five people wearing the same color to stand next to each other. Mix it up and keep things irregular.


Family Combination Photography

7. Make it fun

Make it fun (even though you’re being confident and authoritative). Make a joke, pay attention to the kids, banter with someone who’s up for it. You can also end your photo session with a joke picture, asking everyone to make a crazy face or gesture.

8. Move fast

You have only a few minutes with your subjects, so make every frame count. Keep your camera clicking even if not every subject is 100% ready. And when you see a moment, take it.

9. Ask professional retoucher to improve the shot

Imperfections are natural, post-processing in the digital light room can do a lot to salvage or improve your picture. If you don’t have time or skills to edit yourself – post it up for professionals to work on.

School group picture editing contest from Phowd.

Professional Photography

 

All pictures above are courtesy of Phowd professional retouchers.

Ben Novoselsky

Ben Novoselsky

CEO and Founder at Phowd.com
Entrepreneur, geek, photo enthusiast.
Ben Novoselsky

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  • Emile Bellott

    Great tips. I’ll add another one : #10 If you are not limited ( by recycle time on a flash, for example ) take multiple shots in quick succession. If the time gap is very small, people haven’t changed posture, but smiles come and go. You can splice the best parts of two shots in quick succession.

    #11 Take another one about 1/4 to 1/2 sec after the “official” shot. It’s often better because people relax their stiffness and grimace. Smiles may be better. I’ll often do “3…3…1…” click … click

    Apropos of #7 above, I often ham it up with the Austin Powers line: “Work with me…Work with m..”

  • beptep

    Emile, awesome tips, thanks for sharing!