If you are a professional photographer covering weddings or the family photographer who is always called upon to shoot family events, you must have had the experience (and agony) of photographing groups of people.
Shooting group pictures is not as easy as it looks to the untrained eye. Taking a technically correct group picture requires careful planning as well as sound technical knowledge.
Today's wedding or event photographer gets very little time to organize and execute a group shot. As people are being photographed in various ways several times a day, making people pose for a group image has become a tough job.
Firstly, a photographer must know the maximum number of people expected at an event. The organizers should be informed well in advance what help you may need from their side to ensure everyone has a proper position in the setup.
Many photographers take the easy way out and shoot with a wide angle to cover a large group. This often results in heavily distorted figures at the edges of the frame. To avoid this, do not use a focal length shorter than 28mm. Also, avoid going too close to the group. Do your homework and try to choose a location that gives you enough space to back up to get everyone in a large group in a frame.
The camera should be at around chest level. Anything too high or low may result in unwanted distortions, especially with wide angles.
The aperture can vary from f/5.6 to f/16. Generally, most lenses offer the best edge to edge sharpness at f/8 or f/5.6, but you have to test every lens you use to know exactly which aperture will give you the sharpest image. Considering the wide angle in use and this factor, using f/8 is probably the best option.
Where to focus for a group shot is often a mystery for many photographers. Either let the camera do it on auto area mode, or select single point AF and select a single focus point around the middle area. If there are three rows, focus on the second row, if there are more than three rows, focus around one-third of the row depth. With a 24 to 28mm lens and f/8 aperture, you should be able to get good edge to edge sharpness and enough depth of field to get everyone's details.
Though aperture priority will do the job, you can use manual mode for controlled lighting situations, especially with an external flash. You can also use shutter priority if you are trying to freeze a group in action, for example, jumping together.
While making people stand, ensure a good balance on both sides. People of similar height should ideally stand together. Taller people should be placed at the last rows, preferably towards the middle. Leave some space at both edges of the frame to avoid distortion.
If you yourself want to be in the frame, use a remote device like the ML-L3, for best results. Otherwise, you will have to use the self-timer option. You can set the self-timer to shoot more than one image from the custom settings menu.
For formal group shots, make sure everyone is looking at the camera. You can take multiple shots as a safety measure to ensure this. For informal group photos, you can ask people to pose in funny ways or wait for some candid moments before and after the actual shot. You can also experiment by using high or low angles.
With these tips in mind and backed by adequate preparations, you can excel in shooting group images, and be the most popular photographer in your family or group.
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Updated Date: Sep 21, 2017 15:26:45 IST