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
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.
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.
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.
All pictures above are courtesy of Phowd professional retouchers.
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