Top Tips for Group Portrait Photography

Top Tips for Group Portrait Photography

westchester on location family photographer_ jane goodrich

Working with one child for portrait photography is a challenge – so what’s it like when you’re trying to photograph a group? Whether a wedding party or kid’s birthday, you might want to consider the following tips:

Location and Placement

First, find a location where there is a nice background, but without distracting elements. Keep an eye out for things like lampposts and trees that often like to look like they are sprouting out of your subject’s heads.

Also, take a look at the weather – you might have to move your group shot to keep the sun out of everyone’s faces and reduce squinting.

Multiple Images Key!

The more people (especially kids) that are in your photos, the more important it will be to use continuous shutter on your camera – to take a burst of photos and hopefully capture one or more that work for everyone.

Close is Okay

There’s a tendency to pull back on group shots, but you really only need to pull back just enough to include everyone. Remember that portrait photography, even in groups, is all about faces – we don’t want to have to squint to see them!

Important in the Middle

This may seem obvious but is often overlooked – if you are photographing a special occasion the focus should be on those people (so they should be in the middle). This goes for kid’s birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, etc.

Tripods can Help

If you find that you frequently have to put your camera down to readjust the scene or give direction, then a tripod can help free up your hands, while keeping your camera in the right place so you can more quickly get the shot one it’s ready.

Formal First

When you are taking group photos during more formal occasions, get the formal shots out of the way as soon as possible, so everyone can have some fun. This is especially true for kids’ group photography, as they won’t stay clean for long!

Smile!

This may seem silly, but if you are smiling and relaxed, your group will be too. By the end you may feel like pulling out your hair, but if you keep a smile on your face and a happy tone everyone (especially kids) will be easier to work with.

You Might Need a Wider Lens

Unless you’re willing to climb a ladder/roof to get large group shots you might want to invest in (or rent) a wide angle lens that will let you get everyone in the scene. Even with a wide angle, it can help to get up a bit higher than your crowd (when there is one) to ensure that everyone’s faces are included.

Different Angles Work Too

In smaller groups and with photographing children’s group portraits, it can be an advantage to try out different angles: above, eye level, below, etc. Each angle will give a different feel – some you may end up liking better than others.

Don’t Forget Candid Photos

Even if a group photo is your main objective, capturing some candid photos of an event (or just your kids and friends at the park) can provide you with the opportunity to get some great photos of happy faces. You’re already there with your camera, so why not?

Find a Story

Purely posed group portraits can sometimes seem stiff and formal, so if you can find a way to play up a fun angle, go for it. You can have kids whisper secrets to each other, have a tea party, pretend they are in a play, or just have them do something fun together to get more natural group portraits. This works for adults too!

Finally, don’t give up! It can take some time and a few different group photography sessions to get the hang of working with multiple subjects, but with a little practice, you will see a difference.

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