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5 Tips for Photographing a Group

From weddings to graduations and family reunions, group photos are crucial for events large and small. However, they do require a few separate skills and steps compared to other event shots. Many of the rules that apply to candid, off-the-cuff pictures won't work when you're coordinating tens or even hundreds of people. To ensure your clients get the best group shots possible, make sure you understand these five tips before you next event!

1. Prepare!

wedding photographyPreparation is key when it comes to a quality group shot. While your subjects may be willing to gather for the picture, they're at the event to have fun – not to stand around! Make sure you've got everything in place ahead of time: your wide-angle lens, a quality background and a good idea of where you want people to stand. Get everyone into place, take your shots and then let everyone get back to the festivities. Nobody wants to wait for an ill-prepared photographer.

2. Take Several Shots

No matter how well you coordinate your group, some shots are going to turn out poorly. When you're dealing with large groups – especially groups of kids – someone's bound to be looking in the wrong direction, blinking or fidgeting. Multiple shots will give you the best chance of a quality turnout. Plus, you can always use your editing software later on to swap out heads from one shot to another.

3. Get Your Timing Right

Timing is just as important for group shots as it is for individual candids, but in different ways. You'll need to think about the flow of the event and when people are going to be most receptive to turning their attention toward a picture. You don't want to steal every one away from the most exciting part of their day! You'll also want to think about the lighting conditions in your environment, especially if you're outdoors. You may have a perfect place picked out for the shot, but where will the sun be when people arrive? Finally, make sure you've got your shutter timing down perfectly. While you do want to take multiple shots, you don't want the session to drag on because your pictures are turning out blurry.

4. Beautiful Backgrounds

Pick a simple background that complements your subjects. There's already a lot going on in a group picture, and elaborate items will only distract the eventual viewer. For an outdoor shot, you might choose simple outdoor elements such as plain lawns, dense trees or rock formations. For indoor shots, use large, well-lit wall spaces that aren't too cluttered by other pictures or paintings.

5. Be Sociable

Blending into the background is fine for individual event pictures, but a group needs to feed off your energy! A seemingly bored or even antisocial photographer will make it much more difficult for the group to get in a good mood for the picture, and that will ultimately come through in your final product. Be sociable, be friendly and do your best to make everyone feel at ease. Nobody should have to force a smile when they look at your camera!

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