February 6, 2018 at 1:31 pm #28802
One of my friends recently asked me if I would be willing to do a photo shoot with her extended family. I was a little hesitant to agree because of my lack of experience in that field. But I eventually agreed after a lot of prayer and thinking. I thought maybe it would be a good learning experience for me to broaden my knowledge of photography. I have done portrait photography in the past but mainly just toddler shoots or small family’s of 3-5 people. There will be 28 people in this family, most of which are adults. So I am wondering If anyone would have some suggestions or tips for shooting large groups like this. My main concern would probably be to get all the faces sharp and in focus. I will be using my Nikon D3200 hopefull with my 50mmm lens. (I say hopefully because I recently ordered the 50mm lens from Adorama and am waiting for it to arrive) I also have the two kit lens that came with my camera (the 18-55mm, 55-200mm). I am thinking the 50mm would be the best one for this job unless someone would think one of the others would work better.February 6, 2018 at 7:06 pm #28811Eliana FranzenburgParticipant
I’ve never done groups that big, but personally I would use the 18-55mm instead of the 50mm because then you can zoom out if you need to. I think you should probably use an aperture of 15 or more to make sure of having things in focus.
I’m in no way a pro or anything 🙂 but that’s what I would do. Hope that helps!February 7, 2018 at 4:56 pm #28834James StaddonKeymaster
1. Spend time looking for an attractive location. A gently sloping hill or steps or tierd walls help get people at different head heights.
2. Find out what kind of photos they want. One big group shot? Multiple variations of arrangement on the one big group shots? Smaller groups with various combinations?
3. Get a list of who will be in the big group photo. Who will be center of attention? Grandma/pa? Do they want people arranged specifically (like, “Brannons on one side, Staddons on the other”, you get the picture)?
4. Beforehand, on location, play out in your mind where you envision people being. It will always change, but it’s good for getting started in the initial setup.
5. Right before it starts, get your exposure settings set up. f/5.6-f/8 should be fine. Make sure shutter speed is plenty fast enough, 1/200 or faster.
6. When it’s time to start, get the anchors in first (Grandma/pa). Place families/individuals around them, then more around them and slowly grow the group out. I don’t like the boxy look of one big chunk of people. Don’t squeeze people in. Spread folks out. Be creative with positioning.
7. Spend your time putting the group together. This is where I spend most of my time. Don’t get people perfect yet.
8. Get yourself a chair or ladder or something to stand on. 🙂
9. Step back, frame up your shot and see if it looks good. Any gaps? Holes? Imbalances? Fix them. Move people around. Tweak it.
10. When the group looks good, get in position and grab the attention of everyone. Give them a few pointers on how to look good: stand tall, put hands on other’s shoulders (if it bends, bend it), fix hair, make sure faces aren’t hidden, men’s hands loose fists (women’s hands not), wives lean in towards husbands, etc.
11. Focus on the second row of faces (assuming there are 3 or 4 rows), take your first shot and review to make sure focus is good, exposure is good, and that there aren’t any final tweaks to be made.
12. Tell a joke and start firing away! Take charge, tell them what to do, get people laughing, do formal, do fun, do silly, pull the group together in a big group hug (“pretend you love each other”), refresh smiles, whatever comes to mind! and just keep shooting (making sure you’re alway focusing purposefully).
13. When you’re done, tell everyone to “freeze!”, go show the picture to the one in charge, see if they have any tweaks. Whether they do or not, depending on how you feel about it, you can make more tweaks and repeat (not too many times 🙂 ).
That’s how I do it. 🙂
February 7, 2018 at 8:50 pm #28845
- This reply was modified 53 years, 9 months ago by .
Thank you for the comments. I really appreciated your steps there James. Very clear and easy to understand. I think I will print that out to use as a guide in the future as well! With that list, I have more confidence to be orderly and have a schedule laid out in place before the actual event.
I was very pleased my new 50mm lens arrived today and I had a little window of time to try it out before the sun went down. I am already amazed with it already! The images I got in just that short time are just beautiful! I am looking forward to seeing how this photo shots all plays out and comes together. Thanks again!February 7, 2018 at 10:07 pm #28847
So I have been doing a little playing around with my lens and had a question come up that would relate to the group photo shoot. I was practicing with my little sisters toys in my homemade light box. I noticed when I would have rows of “creatures” the ones on the ends or second row tended to not be as sharp as the one I focused on, even though I was shooting at F/5.6 at 1/125. Should I be using more like a f/8 or higher? I don’t really like going higher than f/5.6 but will if I really have to… I am just a little concerned if I cant get everything sharp with miniture people how is it going to end out with 28 adults 🙂 wondering if anyone has suggestions or ideas.February 8, 2018 at 2:56 pm #28869Ezra MorleyModerator
Keep in mind that the closer you get to your subject, the narrower your Depth-of-Field will be. Macro photographers know this, and do all kinds of things to try to increase the DOF. When you back up far enough to get 28 people into the frame, your DOF will be far greater, and it probably won’t be an issue.
You do bring up a valid point though, because I have shot group pictures where the front row is tack-sharp, and the back row is rather fuzzy. 🙂 It’s just one of those things you need to pay attention to and correct while you’re still shooting, not find out later when it’s too late to redo it.February 9, 2018 at 11:33 am #28881
I had not really thought about the depth of field. Thank you for you help!February 10, 2018 at 10:36 am #28888February 11, 2018 at 8:08 pm #28895Logan LamarParticipant
Ah! Good luck @virginia!
I made the “mistake” (okay, I’m happy with this outcome and it wasn’t a mistake) of shooting everyone’s family portrait at our church’s Easter Sunrise service with my DSLR. Since then, I’ve now been unofficially labelled as the church photographer. This landed me my first paid portrait shoot, which, as you can probably guess, was for the largest family of our church—with the extended family. Two parents, fourteen kids, a few spouses, seven(?) grandkids, four grandparents, and I’m looking at 30 people (a good third of them under the age of 10) through my viewfinder!
James Staddon gave you a pretty comprehensive list (listen to him, he’s the professional!). I would add, though, if you’re shooting outdoors, a large area of shade is important. For one of the shots, we lined up everybody by the side of a barn, and half of my group was in direct sunlight and the other half was in shade, so half of my group was either blown out in highlights or in the dark.
Another rule. My grandpa is an amatuer photographer, and I think the rule he gave me applies especially well with people. Burn film (er, pixels), and lots. Take at least five of each “picture”, and then take multiple groups of five. My point is take way more than you think you need. I took seven hundred (no, not kidding) of the group of 30 (and I only shot for an hour). This gives you a better chance at getting the good one where everybody looks great. Additionally, if you know how to Photoshop (or use GIMP, which is free: https://www.gimp.org) , it’s much easier to merge people from different photos together (say, if everyone looks great in one photo except for Uncle Bob, who looked really great in this other picture) if they are all from the same angle. If you don’t know how to Photoshop, still—take lots of pictures.
February 11, 2018 at 11:56 pm #28898
- This reply was modified 53 years, 9 months ago by .
Hey thanks for all your advice there @logan very helpful!
I feel like I got into this photography situation much the same way as you 🙂 which is okay with me, because I am learning to enjoy the process – after getting over my “fear” of failing or letting people down.
I will be doing the photo shoot in a field and possibly beside a barn. Hoping I can get everyone there by about 4:30 to get that “golden hour” light. I totally agree about taking lots of pictures! I often feel like I overdo it but I guess that’s better than under doing it 🙂February 12, 2018 at 12:42 pm #28905Logan LamarParticipant
Definitely overdo it than underdo it. Film these days is not entirely free, but it’s close enough!
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