Surely you have happened to go to your work area and not know how to control this large group of people, whose portrait you have to paint. Eyes are lost in all directions, the talkers are not silent and to top it off, the inspiration is not there that day. It is true that taking group photos is a real challenge, but not impossible, even for an amateur photographer.
Before taking group photos, you should know that it is not just about photographing people at a party, birthday or family reunion. You will also need to consider your device settings and lighting conditions. We will thus develop all the points to take into account before taking group photos and we will give you tips to give your images a professional look.
Pay attention to lighting
Anticipation is always a great idea, whatever the discipline. And even more so when you work with several people because not all of them are willing to be in front of the lens and repeat shots until one of them is perfect. The more you plan your sessions, especially in relation to the lighting of your work area, the more likely you will be to have a successful group photo session.
Choosing the place before will be essential to anticipate the placement of the people in the group, so you will avoid wasting time placing them and you will not miss the best hours of the day, which are the early hours of the morning or evening, if you realize your outdoor photo session.
It is not recommended to carry out the photo session at other times of the day because the sun is strong, and this creates annoying lights and shadows on the faces of the subjects. Not to mention that just opening their eyes will be uncomfortable for them. In order for your results to be as natural as possible, you can use softbox windows and translucent umbrellas which will help you dim the light and soften the lighting. Surprisingly, cloudy days are perfect for this type of photoshoot.
On the other hand, if you take your photos indoors or in a studio, it will be easier for you to have control over the lighting of people. You will be able to create lighting schemes to illuminate the faces of all people, without having to use large diaphragm openings and therefore lose sharpness.
If you want to create lighting schemes with cobra flashes, remember that you can bring creativity to your shot by using color gels that will help you enhance the facial expressions of the people you are photographing. Place your flashes with colored gels on each side of the group so that the light crosses and all appear correctly lit. It is important to remember that lighting schemes depend on the number of people in the portrait and the material you are working with.
You will be able to achieve creative effects if you work with studio flashes, using visors with color filters or with a snoot and filters. The latter will help to focus and concentrate the interest on the characters, while keeping a background.
Whatever flash you use to shoot photos with multiple people, remember that you shouldn’t stick it too close to the person closest to the flash. This will ensure that the light can reach the maximum number of people in the group.
Pay attention to focus
Depending on how many people appear in your group shots, you need to apply one focus method or the other, or apply focus to one shot or the other. As we saw above, the depth of field will be the key to obtaining a good photo. The greater the depth of field, the more likely you are that all people will appear sharp.
To easily find the correct focus, you’ll need to measure the light and set the exposure for your work area. You can use the lighting accessories that you consider relevant and thus avoid overexposures or underexposures by taking group photos.
To work in this discipline, the use of a tripod will be fundamental in order to maintain stability during the release. And if you have a remote control, the result will be better. By having several photos of the same frame, and working with stability thanks to the tripod, you will be able to superimpose the photos in Photoshop to bring out the most beautiful features of each of them.
Whenever you take group photos, place them on the same plane so that as many faces as possible are in focus. If it is impossible for you to have all the faces in focus because there are too many people, the ideal will be to focus on the center of all the people in the photo.
If you focus on the people in the background, they will appear out of focus and out of focus. But if you focus on the people in the foreground, the depth of field will be reduced, and the background blurred.
You work with a lot of people who aren’t all used to being in front of the camera or even dislike being in front of the lens, make it easy for them by gently telling them what you want them to do. Remember that if you visited the location the day before, it will be easier for you to create the lighting scheme you will need. You will also know more clearly how to place the group, which will make the experience fun and fast.
Smile and take it in stride, especially if you’re working with children who can give you surprises. Do as many tests as possible, so when you get home you’ll have more choices in the photos.