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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

4 Simple Steps to Group Photography

This last wedding that I shot, Josh grabbed a few shots of me doing my thing. I figured that I would put together a little tutorial on group shots. I have it nailed down to 4 simple steps.

1. Light setup
2. Compose group
3. Tell lies/Make farting sounds/Tell stupid jokes
4. Take picture

Let's start with step 1, now if you don't use off camera lighting you still need to take this into consideration. There is plenty of information online about shooting exposure and lighting. Just make sure that your exposure is correct. If you need to know anything about lighting visit Strobist.com. You can see in the picture above that I am moving my lights around.

Step 2 Compose group. This can be a bit tricky. I generally try and balance the group to make sure that I can see everyone. Also I take into consideration where the lighting will fall, watch out for shadows and hidden people. You can see in the shot above I have a very determined looked on my face. Getting the group together is serous business. Also you need to convince the group to squeeze together. Usually there isn't enough space for everyone and also nothing throws off a group shot like big gaps in a picture. Get friendly and squish together.

Step 3 Tell lies/Make farting sounds/Tell stupid jokes. If you follow the blog you know that I generally like to engage the people I am taking pictures of. I am not above making farting sounds (works great with kids). You can see in the picture above, I am telling some story, most likely not true, but you can see the group is engaged. Maybe I was telling them one of my terrible jokes. Anyways, make them feel more comfortable.

Before I get to step 4 sometimes it is necessary to go back a step or two. Once I had the group composed I realized I needed a bit of fill light. I grabbed my lovely assistant and asked her to stand in the Statue of Liberty pose for fill flash. You may notice something in your composition that doesn't work that you need to take care of. Just make sure that you do it quickly because the group is waiting.

Step 4 Take picture. This may seem simple but it causes issues some times. First thing, take lots of pictures. You will always have someone closing their eyes, looking away, funny faces. Best way to fight this is lots of shots, statistically speaking a person can't look too weird for too many shots. In one shot they will look normal. The bigger the group the more pictures you need to take. Don't worry, digital is cheap, a few electrons can save heart ache later. You can see the Statue of Liberty in the shot above if you look closely. Good luck with your group shots. ~Erik


Dave M. Davis said...

Well Done Sir E., I am going to have to learn to make farting sounds with my mouth I guess.

Anna said...

Thanks for the tutorial, simple, yet complicated...

Anna said...

But good, I don't mean for it to sound like I didn't like your post.

Tyler 2nd RS said...

My favorite part was Angela/the statue of liberty. I really wish I had the time and effort to put into my pictures so they would look as good as yours. I am being sincere about that, no Massey sarcasm.