There are lots of reasons that you might be photographing a group of people – a family portrait, a wedding, a party, a sports team, a musical group, or a family trip.
Photographing a group can be much more challenging than photographing one or two people. You need to make sure that everyone looks their best and looks natural and comfortable.
This guide will help you to find the perfect poses for group photographs, as well as giving you some tips and tricks to make sure that you achieve a fantastic result. Keep reading to find out more.
General Tips For Group Photographs
Here are some general tips that you should always keep in mind when taking group photographs:
- Take Lots Of Photos – When you are working with a large group there is more chance that someone will have their eyes closed or will be looking in the wrong direction. Take multiple pictures in each pose to increase your chances of getting the perfect photo.
- Make Sure The Lighting Is Even – You need to make sure that each subject of the photographs is well lit, so using a space that has even lighting is a good idea.
- Keep Everyone Focused On You – You need to make sure that you hold the attention of the group to stop them losing focus and drifting off or looking away. You need to be assertive and keep talking, even if you’re just explaining the process of what is happening. Tell the subjects to make sure that they can see you at all times, and to look towards you unless otherwise directed.
- Close The Gaps – Unless you are attempting a more artistic pose, it is best to try and keep the subjects of the photographs close together and to avoid large gaps. These gaps look awkward and break up the photograph. Make sure everyone stands close together.
- Use Different Angles – As a photographer, you should be moving around to find the best angles to shoot your subjects. Get down low to the ground or find something safe to stand on to shoot from above.
- Use Symmetry and Non-Symmetry – Sometimes it works really well when everyone is holding the same pose, and other times it looks better when everyone is in a different pose to create variety. It is important to try out both styles during a group photoshoot to make sure that you get the best photograph.
Different Types Of Group Photographs
There isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ approach to group photographs. You need to adjust your method and style based on the type of group photograph that you are taking. Here are some examples.
Family portraits are a very common type of group photograph. They can vary in size from 3 people up to very large groups.
It is best to talk to the clients beforehand to get an idea of what they are looking for – do they want a traditional portrait or something more relaxed and fun?
Do they want it taken in a studio or outdoors? Are they willing to use props? Do they have a color scheme in mind? Once you know the answers to these questions you can start planning a photoshoot that will achieve all of these goals.
Family portraits often involve photographing children. This can be challenging as they can lose focus or be difficult to direct.
Try to think of poses that involve the parents and children interacting, as this looks natural and also keeps the children where it should be. You can also include some props for the children such as teddies or toys.
The best way to get the children to look happy in the photographs is to make sure that they are having fun. Try some shots where the family are running around together or doing something active.
It can be a good idea to bring a change of clothes for small children taking part in a photoshoot, especially if it is taking place outdoors where they might get muddy.
There can be a lot of pressure when it comes to taking wedding photographs as it is such a special day. When you take the group shots, you need to get a list in advance of which groups the bride and groom would like to be photographed.
This will keep you on track on the day as you can tick them off as you go.
It is good to take a mixture of traditional photographs and more fun, lighthearted shots. You can also think of some poses that work well with the theme of the wedding.
Perhaps show the clients some example photographs to see what they like so you have some specific ideas to use on the day.
Make sure you work efficiently as the guests will be eager to celebrate and will lose interest quickly. You should keep their interest by talking and maybe even telling some jokes.
This is a good way to get some relaxed laughing shots and it will put the wedding guests at ease. Make sure you try and snap some candid photographs as well as the posed ones.
Sports team photography is a little different to other types of group photography as it tends to be very traditional.
The teams are usually in the same uniform or color scheme, and the location is nearly always the playing field or indoor sports area that they use for training or matches.
This is a familiar setting. The layout of the group tends to be based on their position on the team, and traditional poses are normally used.
You can also take some fun shots as well, making use of different layers and even some props. Modern sports team photography is often a lot more dynamic, with people standing at different heights and holding their poses to express individuality.
The poses tend to be confident with some attitude, as this makes the team appear more confident and intimidating to their opponents.
One of the most important things to achieve with sport photography is a sense of cohesion. It needs to be clear that the subjects are all part of the same team, working towards a shared goal.
Band photography is a really fun type of group photography that you can get very creative and experimental with. The most important thing is getting to know the band and what mood they want to create with the pictures.
You also need to know what the pictures are for – are they for use on posters or albums, or are they for social media promotion etc? You also need to find out if they want to include their instruments in the photographs or not.
There are lots of different poses and locations you can try out in this category. You can create moody shots using lighting and angles. You can try some abstract ideas when it comes to poses and styles.
You can try out themed outfits or even matching outfits. Perhaps each member of the band could wear identical sunglasses, or the same color jacket? You can also try out synchronized poses as well as individual poses.
Band photoshoots are different from live music event photography. It is a chance to show the personality of the band, and for the fans to see a different side of the band members to what they see on stage.
Event photography usually requires an element of group photography. It is a good idea to find out information about the location, layout and schedule of the event beforehand so that you are well prepared.
You should try and get a mixture of candid and posed group photographs to really capture the mood of the event. You should also try to include elements of the event in the photographs to give them context – setting, signage etc.
Try to photograph each stage of the event. For example, if it is a running event you should get pictures of the contestants arriving, at the starting line, running, crossing the finish line, and celebrating afterwards.
It is usually easy to capture group photographs as people will naturally gather in groups to discuss the event etc.
Events can also include parties or even corporate events and celebrations. The client may want specific groups of people to be photographed together, such as work teams or family groups.
You should also take photographs of any speeches or presentations that take place to capture the significant moments (see also “Photographing Your Child’s Milestone Moments“).
Ideas For Great Group Photographs
Here are some ideas that you can try out to create some fantastic group photographs. You can use these ideas for any type of group photography.
Using stairs is a great way to make a group photograph more interesting. It adds various layers to the picture and gives each subject in the photograph a chance to be seen clearly.
The subjects can be looking directly at the camera, or they can be looking at each other. You can experiment with sitting and standing poses or even a mixture of both in one photograph.
Getting everyone to jump at the same time can be a really great way to create an exciting group photograph with movement.
It also captures individuality, as each person will have their own style of jumping and will create a different shape with their body.
Try to find an even background to work with – a solid color wall or clear sky – as this will draw more attention to the people in the photograph.
A couch is a great prop to use for a group photograph, especially for family portraits. It makes the subjects more comfortable, and it also gives you a great opportunity to introduce layers and different heights.
You can have a few people on the main seat of the couch, one or two perched on the arms, the tallest people standing behind the couch, and maybe even a few people sitting in front of it.
Piggy backs are a great way to add layers to a family portrait. They also close gaps and keep everyone close together, whilst demonstrating the emotional closeness of the family.
It also makes the photoshoot more interesting to the children, keeping them focused.
This is a great idea for wedding photography and band photography (see also “Best Negative Space Photography Ideas“). If the subjects walk towards the camera you can take several shots at various distances, incorporating movement and individual expression into the photographs.
Try to give them a pace beforehand so that everyone walks at the same speed, and remove all tripping hazards first.
Try to snap some pictures in between setting up for shots.
This can sometimes lead to some lovely candid photographs of the subjects talking to each other or laughing, or even some tender moments between family and friends that you might not have otherwise caught on camera.
You can also catch plenty of candid group photographs when doing event photography.
If your clients want some fun photographs, why not mess around with some perspective tricks?
You can get one person to stand close to the camera and others to stand further away, and make it look like they are all standing on their hand. You can also try some other tricks using distance and perspective.
Matching Outfits can be a great way to bring cohesiveness into a group photograph, especially for family portraits. This idea works well with any color, and you can have some fun with it.
You can choose a plain background to make the outfits stand out, or experiment with some outdoor locations.
If you don’t want the outfits to match perfectly, you could choose a color scheme instead. This allows for individual expression whilst creating a sense of togetherness that is perfect for family portraits and band photography.
This tends to happen naturally with wedding photography as the groups are made up of the bridal party and the groomsmen who tend to be wearing the same colors.
Lots of photographs are taken head-on from the same angle. You can switch things up a bit by getting your subjects to look down into the camera. You will need to get low to the floor, or possibly even lie down on the floor.
It will be worth the effort, as the photograph will be unique and interesting.
If you are doing a band photoshoot or a less traditional family portrait, you can experiment with the subjects looking away from the camera in different directions.
This is a great way to make the most of side profiles and to play with various styles of lighting. It can result in a very atmospheric effect, creating a strong mood for the photograph.
The people are the main focus of group photography, but there might be some shoots where you want to create a real sense of location.
Perhaps the location of the photoshoot is significant to the clients, or you want to create a strong feeling for a band photoshoot.
You should experiment with shooting from different angles to see what else you can fit into the frame – road, buildings, signs, landscape etc – to give the viewer a true sense of where the photograph was taken.
Ordinarily, you need to make sure that all of the subjects in your photograph are evenly lit. However, if you want to create a more artistic picture then you can experiment with shadows.
This can give your photograph real depth and contrast, making it very interesting to look at. This can work well with band photography, as well as friend photoshoots.
Outdoor photoshoots are notoriously difficult because of the changing lighting conditions. However, if you work quickly and efficiently you can use this to your advantage.
A sunrise or sunset photoshoot creates some stunning lighting opportunities, and you can get shots in different levels of light to see what works best.
It also gives you a chance to work with the shadows cast by the subjects, creating some really interesting shapes on the ground to include in your photographs.
You don’t have to use a neutral color for the background of your group photograph. Sometimes it works really well if you use a vibrant color on the background and keep the outfits neutral instead.
This technique can work well for band photography, family portraits, and much more.
If you have a smaller group of people to photograph, you could arrange them in a window or a doorway to create an interesting setting.
They can poke through a doorway at different heights, or some could lean on the window frame while others stand behind them.
You can try windows on the ground floor, and then move up to higher windows to experiment with different angles.
Alleyways can be a great setting for a group photograph. The walls of the alleyway create a frame for the photograph, focusing your eyes towards the center where the subjects are standing.
You use distance to spread out the subjects, and even position them at different heights. You can also position some of them leaning against the walls to create a variety of poses in the photographs.
Props can be a great way to inject some fun into group photographs. They also give people something to do with their hands, which can prevent the awkward poses that sometimes feature in group photographs.
This idea works really well in wedding photography, and the props could even fit with the theme.
If you are photographing a large group of people, it can be difficult to get them all in the same photograph. Shooting from above allows you to fit more people in the frame, and also gives you some exciting creative opportunities.
This is a great idea for weddings if you want to get all of the guests in the same photograph.
If you are using this idea at a wedding, make sure that the bride and groom are still the main focus of the photograph by placing them in the middle of the group.
Once the photograph has been printed it will probably be displayed in a frame – but what about using the frame as part of the photograph?
A large frame is a fun prop which creates a good shape for the photograph and adds a sense of fun. You can use a full length frame, or you can get a group to hold a frame that is a bit smaller.
You can place the subjects at different heights, or even have some on the outside of the frame and some on the inside. There are lots of opportunities to take interesting and creative pictures.
Including a car in a group shot is a great way to add interest, especially at a wedding when there is usually a vintage car or an expensive car.
You can keep it simple and have the subjects stand in front of the car, placing them at different distances to create layers.
Or you can try something a bit more dynamic and have the doors open, placing some subjects behind the doors or even inside the car leaning out.
Always make sure that the engine is turned off to avoid any accidents!
Group photography can be challenging as you need to direct multiple people and capture them all at their best. However, it can also present some fantastic opportunities for creative, fun and exciting photography.
You always need to check what the client wants, and come prepared with ideas of poses to try. Make sure that you consider the type of group photograph you are taking to ensure that your ideas are appropriate.
Take plenty of photos and try various poses and angles until you get the perfect shot.