group portraits

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Post on 20-Jun-2015



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A set of tip and tricks related to taking group and family portraits. Prepared as part of a photographic workshop I was giving to several students.


  • 1. Group Portraits
    How to - Tips & Tricks
    By Mike Giovinazzo
    All rights Reserved

2. Getting Started
3. People dont like to be kept waiting so think ahead about some of the following aspects of your photo:
scope out the location of your shot before hand
think ahead about how you will pose people and frame your shot
make sure your camera and flash are ready and on, plus batteries are charged
make sure everyone you want in the shot knows you want them a few minutes ahead of time
4. Location provides context
Egshot of a sporting team on their playing field
Consider distractions
Choose a position where your group will fit,
Where there is enough light for the shot
Few distractions in the background
Avoid setting up in front of a window: flash might reflect back
Location Selection
5. Avoid the problems of not everyone looking just right
Consider continuous shooting mode
Find first shot is often no good but that the one or two directly after it often give a group that looks a little less posed and more relaxed.
Mix up the framing of your shots a little
Zoom: use wide focal length and some tighter
Take Multiple Shots
6. Fill the frame
Try to get as close as you can (without cutting some members out of course)
The closer you can get the more detail youll have in their faces something that really lifts a shot a lot.
BUT allow for standard crop ratios
4 x 6or5 x 7or8 x 10
Get in Close
4 x 65 x 7.5 8 x 12
7. Tripods communicate youre serious
Can help you get their attention
Gives you more freedom to be involved in the creation of the posing of your subjects.
Permits for a cable release less closed eyes
Use a Tripod
8. Especially with large groups an assistant can be very handy to get the group organized
Also incredibly handy if you are taking multiple group shots
Can ensure you have everyone needed in each shot.
Can intervene to place hair, straighten ties, adjust a gown
Consider an Assistant
9. PosingDetails
10. Photographers can lose control by not communicating with their subjects
let them know what you want them to do
tell them that they look great and
how much longer youll need them
motivate them to smile and be engaged
keep people feeling relaxed and having fun
If you can see the camera it can see you.
Very useful for mirrors
Take Control
11. The first simple step toward improving your family portraits is to have people TURN.
They say Cameras add 10 pounds where the subject's body is straight on
One shoulder closer to the camera than the other, creates a more interesting image, and makes your subjects look slimmer.
the subject's head is no longer squared off with the shoulders.
With the subject's body is angled, they must turn their head to look at the camera
result is a more appealing
Make Angles
12. When you're posing a group for a family portrait, try to arrange the heads of your subjects so that they form triangles.
Geometric shapes like triangles create photos that have more visual appeal.
Placing your family into a tight-knit triangle also brings the group together, which creates less empty "dead" space between each person's body.
Have more than three family members?
Just create sub-groups of triangles until you've got everyone properly arranged.
Think Triangles
13. Start with one person/couple as the base or middle of the pyramid
Arrange the rest around the base to form a large triangular shape.
Use chairs, step stools or other props to help you naturally create a triangular shape.
Direct contact such as hands on shoulders conveys closeness.
With on camera flash, people in the back rows need to be a FULL head taller than people in front
Consider a Pyramid
14. So simple have them tilt their heads together.
The mere act of tilting heads ensures that every person's body is not straight up and down.
It also creates an immediate feeling of intimacy.
Helps make them part of the group
Heads just a fraction of an inch closer, makes family portrait comes together
doesn't look like a group of strangers all standing next to each other
Tilt Heads
15. Make your family portraits more engaging and interesting by having some people sit and others stand
Keeping in mind the triangles
find natural locations - park bench, large boulder
Works well for photos of grandparents and kids
Grandparents can sit down and be comfortable while the children can be wrangled into position around them
Should offer a nice juxtaposition of age and youth
Sit and Stand
16. Hands create all sorts of problems when you're trying to pose for family portraits.
Most people can't decide what to do with them
Hands can add a lot of visual clutter
The simplest solution then is to have people put their hands in positions that effectively hide them from view.
Have men fold their arms
Women can place them in their laps
Pockets are a great solution for kids of all ages
If showing: just see the edge;fingers extended
Hide Those Hands
17. Another way of reflecting the closeness of a parent and child is to have them look at each other or a common point
Direct eye contact conveys familiarity and bonding
Both looking at some common point conveys a shared interest
Infants:schedule the shot for when the baby is normally sleeping.
Have one adult hold the baby below chest level and look down at the baby in a caring manner.
Take shots at several different angles.
Posing One Adult and One Child
18. Groups may pose themselves naturally
weve all done it before- Tall people will go to the back
If event is centered around one or two people(wedding, birthday)make them the central focal point by putting them right in the middle of the group
Variation: everyone looking at the camera at the person/couple
Larger Groups
Put taller members not only towards the back of the group but centered with shorter people on the edges of the group
Do not make the group too deep (keep everyone in focus)
Tell everyone to raise their chins a little avoids double chins
Posing a Larger Groups
19. Lighting and Props
20. To get detail you need sufficient light
varies from situation to situation
consider using a flash
especially if the main source of light is coming from behind the group.
On bright sunny day with the sun low:avoid positioning it directly behind you or youll end up with a collection of squinting faces in your shot.
Think about Lighting
21. Avoid having one persons shadow fall onto important details of another person
Easiest option is to get the light to shine or bounce onto the faces of your subjects
If indoors using ambient or natural light, make sure the light is hitting everyone evenly
Butterfly Lighting is attractive
Keep studio lights a bit further away
Help to make the light fall off is more even
Light the Whole Group Evenly
22. Aim for Storybook Portraits.
A shared activity which can incorporate a book, a favorite toy, etc.
Have them all look at each other.
For babies, have one family member get the babys attention and everyone else look at the baby.
Plan an event
E.g. Take families to the beach and bring along some bread. Feeding the ducks becomes the perfect storybook alternative.
Let Them Tell You a Story
23. Props help subjects use their hands
They add a visual element
Can be used to tell a story
Useful ideas for families
Balloons, balls
Dolls, Toys, Books
Scarfs, blankets
Stuffed animals
Prop up your images
24. Yes YOU should smile!
Have fun and enjoy the process of getting your shots
25. Thank You