Photographers who photograph people will invariably encounter the group shot at some stage, whether it’s a Christmas party memento or a fashion shoot promo. While they can be great fun, it’s very easy for group photos to go wrong, primarily because there are so many people to organise. If you’re approaching it professionally, remember the four fundamentals: positioning, clothes, lighting, and camera angle. They’re useful for casual photos, too!
To create a successful group shot you should consider your environment and concept. A group shot requires much more styling, and therefore more time to create successful images than an ordinary shoot; planning then is paramount. It is a good idea to plan your concept ahead of time and focus on positioning your models in the studio or location later. When shooting, focus on the individuals rather than the group, then work from that.
As successful group photographs go hand-in-hand with great composition, it’s important to consider exactly how you plan to go about photographing your subjects. Your camera angle is very important here; if you’re shooting wide, you need to consider how close your subjects will be to the camera so there’s no distortion, and you may also want to consider how close you are to your subject. Using a 50mm or 85mm lens might mean that you have to be far from your subjects in order to get everyone in-shot.
Styling is extremely important in group shots because there needs to be an element of consistency. When working with more than two people (especially an odd number) there will need to be an element of similarity— whether this is in the casting of the models to have a similar appearance, or similar clothing, hair styling, and makeup, so that everything ties together.
Tips from a pro
Photographing groups is particularly intimidating for even the most experienced photographers, but there are a few steps you can take to help you get some successful shots:
- When working on location, planning is key be sure to scout your location beforehand and figure out whether you need certain lighting to achieve the planned theme. If you’re happy to work with natural light, then you will need to consider the time of day you’re shooting at, the quality of light, and whether you need accessories such as reflectors to achieve equal lighting across your shot. If you’re working with artificial lighting, you need to consider what lighting accessories you will need to light your frame, such as a large softbox/octobox, or two lights.
- When in the studio, consider how you’re going to light your group beforehand by testing various light ideas (a perfect opportunity for this is when models are in hair and makeup). A group made up of two or more people may require more lighting or larger accessories and the creative positioning of lights (such as a large softbox placed horizontally instead of vertically) so that the light is equal across your frame and doesn’t fall off unevenly at either side of the shot.
- Casting: When casting models for group shots, look at their portfolios to see if they already feature group photographs. If so, do they look comfortable alongside the other models? It’s important with group photos to use models who have the right personality and will get on well with other individuals.
The images in this article were based on the film The Lost Boys and was cast according to each model’s role. When you’re working with groups it can help to place them into a role or story in which they can act. The backdrop was an old cemetery in Brooklyn and enhanced the mood of the shoot.
- Models: Chloe Norgaard, Romain, and Adin @ Re:Quest Models NY
- Makeup and Hair: Meagan Shea
- Styling: Lauren Armes
If you’ve dreamed of working in the fashion photo industry or simply want to learn how to shoot edgy, fun fashion photos, Lara Jade’s Fashion Photography 101 is full of technical advice to improve your images, as well as practical, insider information on how to contact models, build your portfolio, and navigate the challenges involved in dealing with agencies.
Lara Jade Fashion Photography 101 by Lara Jade
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