Ted’s Tips for Taking Better Group Photos

29/03/2021 7:58 am

Whether you are at a family party and have the opportunity to get a rare photo of several generations together, or you are an events photographer tasked with commemorating the attending guests, you will probably find group shots to be deceptively tricky to master. It can be even trickier if you are acting as one of the models and the photographer simultaneously. Sure, you could just make sure no one's heads are cut out of the frame and fire, but this will result in your group shots not matching the rest of your portfolio in quality. 

 

From gear recommendations to  general advice, read on for our tips for taking better group photos.


1. Use the right camera gear

While the best photography isn’t always about the gear you have with you, your group photography results will improve greatly if your kit consists of a few select items. With the following gear, you will be on your way to mastering group photos.

 

Camera with tilting screen - This is important if you are also posing in your group photos, as it allows you to fine-tune your framing and not rely on guest work. If you are using your smartphone, a front-facing camera is your best friend here.

 

Tripod - Tripods are great for cutting down on camera shake, and keeping your framing and composition exact as you think through your shot. They are essential if you are among the members of the group being photographed. Tripods are great, wether you use a DSLR or Mirrorless camera, and even for your Smartphone.

 

Ted's top tips for taking better group photos

Remote control - This helps you to fire the camera when everything is ready without fumbling around with the camera. Once again, it is more important for those multi-tasking models/photographers. The Self Timer is handy if you don’t have a remote, but there is a delay between you activating the shutter and it firing, so you will need everyone to hold still for a while longer.

 

Wide-angle lens - If you are only taking photos of a few people, you can usually get by with a standard lens, but if you are shooting large groups of people a wide-angle lens is necessary. These lenses allow you to fit more people in your frame without moving too far back, which is particularly important when working in cramped spaces, but be warned, very wide lenses will produce distortion - so use sparingly.

2. Don’t try for too much bokeh

Ted's top tips for taking better group photos

 

 

While we are always fond of the latest and greatest portrait lenses with their fast maximum apertures and resulting dreamy bokeh, you should avoid aiming for too much background blur for your group shots. This is because if you shoot very shallow depths of field and the faces in your photo are not at an identical distance, some of them will be blurry. 

 

If you stop down just a little, you can still produce some background blur, but all of the members of your group photo will be sharp and in focus.

3. Give your group some direction

If you want to produce group photos with better compositions, you will need to give your group some directions on where and how to stand. This is a little tricky, as too much direction can look awkward and make your participants feel anxious, they aren’t professional models, afterall.

 

For best success, take note of the following tips and use them accordingly, remembering that staying lighthearted and friendly when giving direction can alleviate the tension for better results.

 

  • Make sure no one’s head is obscured by another group member
  • Keep heads at different levels - consider positioning people of different heights accordingly
  • Ask group participants to get closer together, which allows you to get in closer to shoot for a tighter composition and a more inviting image.
Ted's top tips for taking better group photos

4. Take some candid shots too

Ted's top tips for taking better group photos

 

 

Sometimes the most pleasing and natural looking images are taken when people are not expecting it. With everyone in position for the group photo, take some photos without giving them any warning or saying cheese. This way, you know your framing and composition is close to ready, but you will overcome the nervous and awkward looking faces that most of us pull when we know a photo is about to be taken.

 

Top tip: Encourage friendly conversation at this point to lighten the mood a little. This easing of tension will be visible in your photo.

5. Think about lighting

 

As we have said many times before, lighting can make or break a photo. For the best lighting for group photos you want enough light to avoid dark and grainy images and you also want to avoid harsh shadows, which are caused by overwhelmingly strong light sources. Soft and even lighting is the best for group shots, as it is for portraits.

 

If you don’t want to leave anything to chance and you want control over the lighting of your images, we recommend making use of a flash gun. Flash guns assure you can capture well-lit, detailed images at any time. For best results, if you are under a roof try your hand at bounce flash, while if you are outdoors, investigate and implement fill flash.

Ted's top tips for taking better group photos

Improve your group shots and family photos today

With these group photo tips under your belt, you will be the designated photographer at family parties for years to come. If you are looking at some fresh new photography gear to make the most of your new skills, shop online or head into your local Ted’s store.


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