Photographing Family Gatherings

Gatherings 1

 As I’m sure you know, travelling at any time is no easy feat, so once you get through the security lines, flight delays, and shopping traffic, don’t forget to document your holiday gathering with your camera! Here are a few tips for arranging and photographing large groups at your holiday gatherings this year.

Gatherings 2

Gather your group…When arranging your group, use rows, rather than one long line of people. This gives you a tighter group in the photo. Remember that the wider the group gets, the more dead space you have on the top and bottom of the frame, so using rows allows you to shorten the width and fill the frame better. Also, compress the rows as much as possible by squeezing close together; it’s the Holidays, and you can stand to get close to your friends and family for a few minutes! Squeezing the rows together condenses the depth of field for a better shot. When placing people in the shot, it’s generally best to start with the grandparents and anyone else who may need a little more time to settle into their place. And always bring the kids in last, as they have the shortest attention span. People generally look nicer earlier in the day, so if possible, try to take the photo earlier rather than later. And don’t forget to make sure you know how to use your timer before you are ready to shoot. Finally, instead of using a wide angle lens, get further away and zoom in. This will flatten the group so that everyone is of equal size. A wide angle will make the front row huge and the back row tiny.

Gatherings 3

Walkin’ in a winter wonderland…If you’re lucky, Mother Nature will provide a wonderful backdrop for a Holiday group photo, so try to shoot the photo outdoors if possible. Backlight the group with natural light with the sun at their backs. Also, try not to use flat, level ground. Instead, find a slanted grassy area, or use rocks, stairs, or something else that adds different elevations to the shot.

Gatherings 4

If the weather outside is frightful…Sometimes, nature does not cooperate with outdoor photography. Or, you may prefer to take the shot inside by the tree or fireplace. Keep in mind that most of the time, fireplace shots do not turn out the way you plan, because the fireplace itself is often blocked by the people in your shot! If you choose to include the tree in your photo, switch to Manual mode, raise your ASA to ISO 800, and use a slow shutter speed, around 1/60. Take a few shots and adjust if needed. Also, be sure to use a tripod to avoid blur. Tone down the lights in the room to bring out the lights on the tree, turn your flash on, and shoot away! Well, that’s it for now. Always remember to take several shots, especially in large groups. You never know who’s going to blink! Have fun at your parties and gatherings!