Tips For Great Group Photos With A Beginner Digital SLR Camera

November 24, 2009

With the holiday season upon us, you probably have at least one family gathering planned. Perhaps you only meet up together once a year, or maybe you get together more often, but it’s always great to commemorate a special occasion with a photo of the whole family together. Even if you’re a beginner photographer with a new digital SLR camera you should be able to get some great pictures, but here are some essential tips to help you take a really successful group photo.

1. Preparation
Get everything ready before you call the whole family together. If you want a relaxed and happy picture you don’t want to keep everyone hanging about, as you change batteries and fiddle with the exposure, while the turkey needs basting and the cooks have a hundred other things to do.
•    Check your camera batteries, that there is room on your memory card and that you have your flash attached and charged if you need it.
•    Decide on a good location to take the photo in advance
•    Give everyone a five minute warning that you want to take the photo soon.
•    Pick your time well. You want everyone present and relaxed, so don’t drag the cooks out of the kitchen five minutes before the meal is due to be served, but you also don’t want to wait till the end of the day when the children will be tired and parents trying to get them off home. Try and find a good time near the beginning of your day when all the kids still look fresh and tidy and tempers haven’t worn thin!

2. Location
Choose a location that goes well with the occasion and has enough space both to fit everybody and for you to stand back from the group. A shot using a combination of natural light and fill-in flash works well. Perhaps you have steps outside the front door, with holiday decorations on each side, which would make an ideal spot to pose the whole family, or a porch with plenty of natural light.

3. Pose the group
It may seem obvious to put tall people at the back, kids at the front, but you are the one who has to make sure that you can see everyone and that no-one is peering over somebody else’s shoulder. Steps make a great natural stage for a group photo, but you can also create your own stage using chairs and tables for people to sit and stand on to get several levels. It is important not to make your photo too deep – i.e not to have too great a distance between the front and back of the group, as this makes it more difficult to get the light even and to have everybody in sharp focus.

4. Get in Close
Get as close as you can to the group without cutting people out of the photo, so that you get plenty of detail in the faces. If people are standing in too long a line, bring some of them to the front, creating several levels to your group photo. Get everybody to lean in close to each other, link arms and get children to lean in close to seated parents or sit on laps, so that you create a photo with an intimate feel of a close family.

5. Take Lots of Shots
Take far more photos than you think you need to. Once everybody is grouped, start taking photos as you talk to them and keep their attention on the camera. Then just snap away, one photo after another. Professional photographers will usually take at least twenty shots or more to get one that is just right with a happy, relaxed feel.

More tips on photographing groups will be posted on Thursday. Happy Holidays!

Mum and Photographer

Mum and Photographer

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