Group pictures are sometimes fun to take when you are not after balance and proper poses. But even with some direction and positioning there are some problems that might still crop up. Some people in the group may be looking at different directions, they may exhibit varying moods, others may have their eyes closed or caught in the middle of blinking, a head may be covering another or they moved so close together leaving a lot of space around.
It may be challenging to get the proper composition to take good group pictures, but there are some steps that can help you polish your technique.
- Prepare before the shoot. Find locations that will be perfect for what you have in mind. There should be no distractions such as people, animals, and cars. Think of how you are going to compose the group shot and what poses would best suit the group, the occasion and the location. Make sure your camera is ready and you have extra batteries. Avoid places where there are glass windows which might deflect your flash. Choose a location that is not directly under the sun to prevent your subjects from squinting.
- Check your props if you need to use some and have them ready. There are also other natural props that can be used as effective background filler like trees and shrubs or even a car. You may need some chairs or benches and even a crate to stand on in case there are short people.
- Get the group and give them directions on where to stand. Do not be afraid to shuffle them around so you can get a good balance. Show them some poses that you think are applicable and have them practice them a bit while you set up. Make some stand, others may sit. Arrange your props as you see fit.
- Get your subjects to relax. Their poses should be as natural as possible. Make them laugh a bit but do not overdo it that they get tired and bored before you get your first shot.
- Once you are ready, quickly take several shots. Set your camera on continuous mode so you can also move around and take shots at different angles for test shots. Review the shots that you have taken and choose the best angle and framing.
- Talk to the subjects and tell them what you want them to do after the test shots, keep them animated and relaxed. And let them know also how long you want them so they do not fidget. Set up your tripod to let your subjects know that you are ready for the final shots.
- Get some wide-angle shots and do some close up shots for clarity and detail. Think of your framing and give some space for cropping later without sacrificing a subject’s body part.
- Check the availability of natural lighting and supplement with a flash and reflector. Get an assistant to help out.
- Tell the group to maintain their poses and take quick successive shots. Do not aim for that one perfect shot. It is not possible.
- Give them a smile. It encourages your subjects to smile, too. Make the experience fun for you and your subjects.
- As a bonus, aside from the posed group photo, why not have them move closer together and take a close up of the group in their most natural pose. It could be funny or dramatic.
Be creative. The most beautiful photos are those that are unique and natural. Keep on practicing and looking for more effective ways to take those shots. One, two, three, click.