I’ll give you the 6 steps I follow when I take a group picture. This can be useful for a wedding, a birthday, an evening… In short, for all types of events.
1. NURTURE YOUR BACKGROUND
To make your photo look good, the fewer elements in the background, the more transparent, and more precise your image will be. So the first thing to do is to clean your frame of any disruptive elements. Moreover, this advice is valid as well for a group photo as for a portrait or a photo of details.
2. LIGHT: BACKLIGHT & CO.
As usual, place your subject either in the shade, in an open-shade, in a shady place or against the light. This allows you to detach your subject well from the background, to have a soft and homogeneous light and especially not to find yourself with a series of faces tense by the sun… If you do not see what I am talking about, I invite you to watch the video on the portrait in natural light.
When you shoot against the light, I advise you not to get precisely in the axis of the sun. Without this, when the rays enter directly into your lens, it will desaturate your image and create a white veil on the photo and a halo (called “lens flare”). A drop in contrast often accompanies this. This is an effect I’m looking for more artistic photos, but I don’t think it’s appropriate for group photos. For example, for a wedding, women wear their best dress and men their best suit. If a woman with a red dress ends up with a pale pink dress in the group photo, I think she might be a little disappointed.
3. PLACE YOUR SUBJECTS
Ask yourself the question: who is important? Who is at the center of the event you are witnessing? It can be the bride and groom, the person whose birthday it is or retirement… Once the main topic is determined (quite quickly I think), place it at the center of your group. Then ask the rest of the group to fight on either side of the group. If necessary, move a person or two to balance the group.
The enormous “plus” for a superb group photo is to have homogeneity in the outfits worn by your subjects. It is a pure joy to photograph people who are all dressed the same way or in the same tones. This offers many composition possibilities.
4. WHICH OPENING TO CHOOSE?
Contrary to what one might think, you can use a large opening (small number). For example, f/1.8. Moreover, it is always in the same concern to detach your group well from the background and to put it forward in your image.
Instinctively, you tell yourself that with such an opening I wouldn’t have a sufficient depth of field (PdC) for everyone to be precise. However, don’t forget that the further you get away from your subject, the wider the focus area becomes. Also, a wide angle is often used for a group photo… which adds to the POC. In any case, you can use a large aperture and remove your subject from the background. If you’re not convinced, try it, you’ll see.
If you take your picture with a telephoto lens (nothing is prohibited), which has the characteristic of considerably reducing the sharpness area, I invite you to close your diaphragm. Without it, I doubt you can get everyone clean.
Also, think that if you want to have a beautiful background blur, you will have to move your group away from the background.
5. WHERE CAN I FOCUS MY ATTENTION?
Well, it’s straightforward, it’s the main topic that has to be clear whatever happens. So you have to focus on his face.
In a family photo, you may not have the main subject. In this case, focus on the person in the middle of the first row.
6. GET THE GROUP’S ATTENTION AND SHOOT!
There are always “bad” students chatting at the back of the class. So I got into the habit of always saying two little sentences:
“Now that everyone’s in position, I’ll take the picture. One last thing before you start: if you don’t see me, be sure I won’t see you in the picture.
It must seem logical to you, but believe me, it is not always the case for your subjects.
Moreover, here’s the second thing I say before I shoot:
“Now I’m gonna count to three. Moreover, on three everyone opens your eyes