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It’s not always easy to take a good group photo. On top of choosing the right equipment and settings, you’ll need to manage your time and stress so that your subjects cooperate with you and stay upbeat! Follow these invaluable tips and not only will you produce photos that make people happy, but you’ll also have mastered the art of directing.
If you’re using a camera with interchangeable lenses, opt for a wide-angle lens with a wide aperture (at least f/2.8) to make your subjects stand out and for a sharper overall shot.
If your group photo includes more than 10 people, we strongly recommend that you use a tripod. That way, you’ll be able to fine-tune your composition and take the time to arrange your subjects. Remember to continually revise your composition to get the best results.
Your mission is straightforward: make sure your subjects are in focus and that the background is out of focus. A very wide aperture will give you a shallow depth of field, meaning your background will be blurry the way you want it. But watch out, with this setting you run the risk of blurring parts of your subjects too. To prevent this from happening, you’ll need to step back a bit in order to widen your area of focus. Take a few test shots. Your camera should be focused on the face of the person right in the centre of the frame. If you decide to take a moving group shot (friends walking towards you or kids running together, for example), remember to set your camera to a high shutter speed so that your subjects stay in focus.
Having more than three people in a picture requires some organization. It’s up to you to take the reigns and arrange your subjects. Even if it can be a tad stressful because it’s such a delicate process, try to be as relaxed as possible and even crack a few jokes. You want to ensure that the people you’re photographing are happy to pose for you. You can still be firm though—you don’t have a lot of time to waste because if you take too long, you’ll end up with much less candid shots.
Nobody likes a photo full of folks squinting! Try to place your group in a shaded area or with the sun behind them to get a soft and even shot.
When it comes to group photos, you need to take the variety of heights into account. Avoid pictures that look too organized (e.g. shortest to tallest). Also, try to strike the right colour balance and avoid arranging subjects wearing dominant colours too near one another.
Even if it’s blurred, decor is essential if you want your picture to come out right. Remove any distracting objects: an out-of-place subject, an embarrassing object, a distracting colour, etc. Use your decor, the trees or the vegetation, for example, to bring the whole shot together.
Highly posed group photos work well when it’s a big group, but for pictures of fewer than 10 people, let loose and have some fun! Ask your subjects to jump in the air, or get them to each strike a different and unexpected pose to create a feeling of movement. It’s your talent as a director that will make all the difference.
Smiles are essential in a group shot, but if they look too forced, the whole picture will look unnatural. Here again, you need to draw on your directing talents and your sense of humour to lighten the mood. Make it fun!
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