It can be intimidating to photograph a group. When I first started out as a photographer, the idea of photographing a large group intimidated me. I dread getting a request for a family reunion and extended relatives.
After years of work and a lot of failures, I've finally figured out how to picture a huge group with confidence. I've replaced the anxieties and worry of huge groups with confidence by building a dependable workflow.
Even better, this workflow may be used by any level of photographer. Here are eight of my top suggestions for capturing the perfect group photo.
You'll need one main contact to make decisions for the group, whether you're photographing your own huge family, a group from work, or an extended family session. This is the individual who will tie up all the loose ends. They'll tell you all you need to know about the shoot, including the time, location, types of photographs you want, wardrobe, style, and must-have shots.
I normally ask the person who contacts me who would be the greatest group point person. If the session is for a client, I recommend that the person pay for the session. This keeps them informed about all decisions, ensures that their expectations are transmitted directly to me, and eliminates surprises.
It can take some extra time to organise all of the details when you're coordinating a large group of people. It usually takes longer than you expect.
That's why you should have all of the specifics worked out and ready to go far ahead of time. Allow ample time for everyone to mark the time and day on their calendars without having to reschedule other commitments. Allow plenty of time for everyone to look for clothes and place orders if needed. Prepare your shot list ahead of time so that everyone has enough time to provide their input on the photographs they desire.
Simple might not seem conceivable with all of the moving pieces of a huge group photo. However, there are some things you can control, and in those circumstances, simplicity is always the best option.
Don't feel compelled to shoot in multiple areas. Dress everyone in two to three neutral hues that will readily coordinate. Choose gear that is adaptable so you don't have to switch lenses all the time.
While it's tempting to want to use all of our creative muscles on a photo shoot, it's frequently best to keep things simple so that the obstacles of handling everyone don't overwhelm you.
Location, location, location
When selecting a place, it is critical to take into account the ages of all family members, both young and old. The improper location can rapidly turn a session into a disaster.
Is there something nearby to keep young children occupied, such as a play area, a lot of foot traffic, or a candy store? Are there any spots that would be dangerous for children who aren't as steady on their feet, such as water dangers or abrupt drop-offs? Is everything accessible to family members who are older or disabled?
Maintaining everyone's comfort throughout the session, as well as having a venue that can accommodate everyone, will result in happier images and a more efficient process.
I can't stress how important it is to stagger your arrival timings. Begin with the eldest family members and work your way down the line until you reach the family with the youngest members.
If I'm photographing a large extended family, I'll start with the grandparents, then the adult children without children, families with teenagers, and families with school-aged children. The families with tiny toddlers and babies would be the last to arrive. This gives the smallest children the shortest window, allowing them to maximise their attention span.
I usually space the arrival times out by ten minutes. This allows me to get to know each family while also allowing me to capture individual shots of the family and children.
I meet with the group coordinator a week before the session to go through the arrival schedule and other details. Finally, the day before the photo session, I send an additional reminder to confirm all of the designated arrival times.
Take control of posing
Now is the moment to start posing the family after you've dialled in your camera settings. Begin by putting the group's oldest or most notable members in the centre. For the group portrait, they are your anchors.
Then, as needed, add extra people and families to the area around the anchor points. I begin with the grownups and work my way down to the children.
In both height and colour, look for symmetry. A clump of one hue among a sea of different colours, or a gathering of young toddlers surrounded by tall adults, can appear bizarre.
This is the ideal moment to enlist the help of an assistant to act as a second set of eyes and double-check details. While an assistant isn't required, having a detail-oriented person present for this stage of the shoot can be really beneficial. His or her goal is to ensure that everything is in order, because as a photographer, you already have a lot on your mind. Untucked shirts, out-of-place accessories, and wild hair are all easy to overlook.
If you don't have an assistant, have one of the adults on the other end stand behind you and make a quick check for you.
I always tell the group to simply hang out and chat while I'm getting everything set up. The group is relieved to be free of the need to be camera-ready! If you're feeling very sly, this is a perfect time to snap some candid images of the group conversing as you take your "test shots."
It's just as vital to obtain the photos on your list as it is to make this a fun and memorable experience for your subjects. The tone of the session will be set by your mood, and it can make all the difference in acquiring the photos you desire.
There are a plethora of lovely, interactive photo setups to choose from. I like to put grandparents on blankets or chairs and have them read to the children. Play games with your children. Taces, ring around the rose, tickle battles, and duck-duck-goose are all guaranteed to be entertaining.
These simple hints get kids talking to one another and allow me to obtain some amazing candid shots. To complete the family gallery, I let the last half of the session run its course and tried for a combination of staged and candid shots.