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Hey, photographer, Shannon here! I want to talk about a particular type of photo you and your friends and family probably take often– group shots! Whether you’re on vacation, at a concert, or digging into Sunday brunch, it’s not an uncommon occurrence when someone exclaims, “Let’s take a group picture!” And guess what? You’re the chosen photographer! Here are some tips on how to get that golden shot:
  1. Find great light- If you’re taking your photos outdoors, don’t be afraid to move the group into even light. If it’s mid-day and the sunlight is harsh, move your subjects into shade, or turn them so the sun isn’t directly in front or behind them. Squinting is never a good look! Also, watch out for open shade where light can peek in through trees and create uneven shadows. If you’re indoors and the lighting is low and/or artificial, bump up your ISO so your camera can capture more light. Also, think about playing with white balance.
  2. Use a wide angle lens- To capture a group, you want to make sure everyone is in frame, in focus, and all faces are sharp. A wide angle lens ensures all of these things, specifically because you don’t have to back up so far away from everyone, which can lead to images with less clarity. A 24-70mm or 16-35mm lens is a nice focal length range for group shots.
  3. Get closer- Further, ask your group to get tight so you can physically move closer to them (just be sure to keep everyone in frame!). This way, you can capture even greater detail in their faces.
  4. Don’t place heads in horizons- This is a common mistake photographers make, sometimes without even realizing it! If you’re photographing a group and the horizon line cuts through the middle of their heads, it becomes harsh and distracting. Move your subjects so the sky sits completely above their heads or so the horizon is below their shoulders, or move your own body and shoot from an angle up above or down below. The group will really pop and this will significantly strengthen your photo!
  5. Take multiple shots/shoot in continuous mode- With groups, people tend to move and adjust constantly, wind sweeps hair into faces, blinking occurs, etc. Chances are, you’ll have to take several photos before you capture the perfect one where everyone looks their best! Shoot in continuous mode so you can hold down the shutter button and snap tons of photos in seconds.
  6. Adjust your aperture- Your aperture determines how wide or narrow your focus is, which will then create more or less depth of field between subject and background. For small group shots of 4-6 people, you’ll want to bump up your aperture to about f/2.8 . For slightly larger groups, try a range between f/4 and f/5.6, and for an even bigger party, you can go up to f/8 or even higher. Remember, all faces need to be in focus (unless your creative process says otherwise, of course)!
  7. Don’t be afraid to direct- Would the group look better in one line, two, maybe even three? Are people becoming distracted and looking away from the camera? Do you want a really candid feel with everyone laughing? Tell them! Take control and ask that you lead the direction of the shot. You’ll get more specific, professional-looking images that will preserve the wonderful memories of that occasion!
Happy shooting!
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