Picnics, family outings, get together with friends and colleagues, official trips, tours and parties — call for making great group photographs. The moment when the entire group of family members, friends or colleagues is together, is the best time to capture the incidents and events to cherish them for time to come. Group photography has its own intricacies and mastering over them is fairly simple. Familiarity with your equipment (preferably DSLR) and some basic group photography tips alone can help you excel; and help you capture some great group photographs.
Make The Group Comfortable
The first and foremost thing to adhere to is making the group comfortable. Do not act strict and professional. Be patient and neutral. Make the environment light; crack a joke, involve yourself in the group and welcome their suggestions. It will not only help in taking good shots, but will also help you in photographing neutral and natural looking poses. At other times getting the group to pose can be a challenging task. This is generally due to the heightened excitement; let it pass. Once everyone is relaxed and settled take your shot.
Direct And Arrange The Group
Opportunities in group photography are many, but getting the hold of perfectly posed photographs are rare. You will notice it in the final results that the group in the group photography looks disintegrated; with each member busy posing in their own style. Try to strike rhythm with the group by directing and arranging the members in an organized manner. At times you can pose them casually and at other times you may instruct them in such a way that it heightens the sense of unity and collaboration.
Avoid Direct Light
As is the case with portraits, avoid using direct light. The direct light from the light source tends to hard-light and casts harsh shadows. Also avoid using hard light. Try placing the group in shade when shooting outdoors and use reflected lights while shooting indoors. The reflected light is soft and keeps shadows on the facial features to a minimum. If you have to shoot under the sun, use a fill-flash to fill the dark areas and shadows introduced by hardlight.
Aperture Priority Mode
Setting your camera to aperture-priority mode and dialing it down to smaller f-numbers ensures a shallow depth-of-field, appropriate for group photographs. This helps you bring the entire group in focus and render sharp images while blurrin the background.
Use Backgrounds To Your Advantage
Background play an important role in adding your perspective and a context to the group photograph. It helps in portraying the context and the destination location of the shot. Sand getting washed-off by the water in the background give an impression of beach location. At times, including backgrounds with a lot of patterns or activity result in distraction and clutter in the photograph. To eliminate the background clutter and to induce dreamy effect to your captures you can consider blurring the background; by focusing the group and attaining a narrow DOF. Remember, a foreground or a background goes a long way in establishing a context to the entire story.
Creativity And Un-Posed Shots For Natural Looking Group Photographs
Make your group look natural and comfortable. Try out some creative poses or let the group engage in some interesting conversation and thereafter, capture their reactions. Shoot from various angles and portray the dominance of group as the subject. Involve the group in some interesting games and group activities and welcome their suggestions for funny poses.
Use A Tripod
As a group photographer you need to involve yourself in direction, arrangement and instructions. Tripod comes in handy for getting down to the group, arranging them physically and then instantaneously releasing the shutter as the group settles while the camera awaits you on the tripod. Compose your scene well in hand before the final shot, set the focus, arrange the group and release the shutter.
Prefer Wide-Angle Lens
Prefer using wide angle lens and zoom-out of the scene to accommodate the entire group in the frame. Including the entire group in the final shot is of utmost importance in group photography, with appropriate composition and organized look and feel (without cropping the faces and hands). It would be disappointing for someone to find out that they didn’t show up in the final result. Using wide angle lenses provide the appropriate coverage to the event; the group pose.
Blinking eyes, disturbed arrangement and improper synchronization is what makes the group photographs tricky. Capturing the right pose thus becomes a challenge. Taking multiple shots can help you get some good photographs since there’s quite a scope for trial & error and timing.
Compose the frames intuitively, and present the group in an elegant and organized manner. Follow some simple yet useful composition tips to draw the viewer’s eye into the photograph. For example, guide the group to pose in context of a visually dominating lines, patterns or structures adds to the composition of the frame.
- Fill the frame: A large group will always fill the frame but when shooting a small group try to zoom-in to the scene to capture the expressions; to voice your composition.
- Various Shooting Angles: Try shooting at varying angles — shoot from ground level to heighten the dominance, shoot from the elevation to include a large number of people in the group.
- Rule Of Odds: For small groups, consider involving an odd number of members in the group photograph. It naturally draws the human eye in the composition.
Taking group photographs is a lot of fun. Mapping the moods and striking the comfort level with the entire group makes it a challenging activity. Try putting your camera to continuous shooting mode for bringing out the best of unposed and candid shots which represent the unity of the group. And always be ready with extra batteries and spare memory cards.