Looking through the Improve Photography facebook fan page, the most common question is how to pose people for group portraits. The rows of heads in this photo don’t look too bad, but breaking up the pattern would make them feel more like a tight group. Posing this group on uneven footing makes the composition feel natural and there are no distracting patterns of even heads.
One of the best ways to get the subjects heads on different levels is to find a location that will allow for it. As you look through your photos in Lightroom after a shoot, you sift through until you find the perfect photo. I think I see what the photographer is going for here, but the group is so far spread apart that it feels unnatural. Triangles are an underused tool of composition, and yet it is probably the most important rule of composition for shooting group photos. If you are ever tempted to do posing like in the photo to the left, just give me a call on my cell phone. About the AuthorJim Harmer Facebook Twitter Google+Jim Harmer is the founder of Improve Photography, and host of the popular Improve Photography Podcast.
Will be sharing this post, so many photographers out there who don’t know these basics.
By the way, not only was this family extremely happy with the dog-pile shot,it also sold over 15 times on Getty as of this writing.
A I think the reason that many of the members of our community are nervous about this taking this type of photo.
A It is probably the easiest way to dramatically improve your compositions for group photography. A Trust me, it will be the first thing that your client or your family notices even if the rest of the picture is perfect. A For example, you could pose the family or group on a staircase so they are all sitting on different steps. A When you ask a group to stand together for a picture, particularly if it is a business group rather than a family, the group will be spread much further apart than they should. A When there are a lot of people getting together, it will be chaotic and will take twice as long as it should if you don’t step in and take control of the situation. A It will be unlikely that you could successfully shoot a group photo following the rule of thirds.

A Have the group positioned so the bottom of the people is wider and have only one person at the top of the pose. A My number is [redacted because 4 or 5 people ACTUALLY CALLED in the last few months–this was intended to be a joke]. If you haven’t LIKED Improve Photography on Facebook, you’re missing out on half the fun!
I’m just getting back into photography after a bit of a hiatus and just found your site through PINTEREST. Perhaps #10 was meant in jest, but either way, I’d always encourage photographers to push the bounds of creativity. I’ve got some shoots coming up soon and this changes the game altogether for the better, keep up the great work! I work part time in a chain photography studio, and I another photographer I work with did that same pose (except sitting). Themed kids photo sessions in Stamford, CT,stylized childrens photography in 06902, Connecticut, Fairfield county family photographer, vintage styled children's photography sessions in and nearby Stamford, CT, child model photographer in Stamford, CT.
A Fortunately, group portrait photography of a family or other group is not overly difficult as long as you know a few steps to take in order to get a great photo.
A The idea is that you get the people to be on all different levels so that any pattern of heights does not distract the viewer from seeing the group as being one cohesive unit.
A Just remember to scan the entire group before taking the photo to make sure that everyone can clearly see the camera.
A This will easily break up any patterns of head levels so the group looks like one and no pattern distracts the viewer.
A If you take the shot with the group too far apart, they will not feel like a group at all!
A Wouldn’t it look strange to have the family squished off into the corner of the photo and then a giant space of nothingness in the rest of the shot?
A It’s the perfect place to ask photography questions or to get group therapy for when you’re considering an awkward pose! I will need to shoot several small teams for most the morning, sounds easy to most I’m sure. Unfortunately, due to a scheduling mix up I got stuck working all by myself one night when a family of 5 (4 adults and a month old baby) came in for photos. A In the photo at the right, you can see that the parents are roughly equal in height, and the children are equal in height.

A As soon as you get one in place, another one moves and you have to get the other one set!
A You could do the same thing by placing the group on fallen down logs or on boulders or any other uneven surface. A This will make the one person who is close to the light overly bright, and the people on the other side of the frame will be mostly untouched by the light.
A Standing this way would be fine for a snapshot, but it does not look like professional posing.
A If the group is willing to try something different, you could completely throw the formal group photo out the window and just have fun.
A The second common mistake is placing the lights too close to the axis of the people, so one person’s head throws a shadow on the next person. This will be at a golf course where I don’t know the layout or anything and cannot access till the day of the shoot. I could have done wonders if I could have shot them separately with the baby or at least 2 at a time, but they were insistant on only photos of all 5 of them together. A Here are a couple ideas for doing casual group photos: (1) have the group run toward the camera, or (2) put the group casually lounging on the couch and the floor like a family would sprawl out for movie night in the family room. A It is more time consuming and it can be a pain to edit, but this allows you to mask together multiple shots to fix the one person who is not looking at the camera or is covered up.
A When shooting group photos, I usually pull the lights in much closer to the camera than I typically do when shooting one or two people.
I got stuck in a predicament of “how the hell do I pose 4 very big adults and a tiny baby and make it look even half way decent?” I was internally freaking out during the entire shoot!
This resulted in some really horrible shots (from a posing standpoint), but the family loved them. Management wasn’t too happy with them either, but appologized to me for the whole mess of leaving me on my own as a beginner and having to deal with a difficult situation.

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Comments to «Photography tips for family portraits outdoors»

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