A group por­trait is com­pli­cat­ed by two main points: how to arrange peo­ple so that it looks aes­thet­i­cal­ly pleas­ing, and also how to even­ly and equal­ly well illu­mi­nate all the heroes of the pho­to shoot?

You can go the hard way and shoot each char­ac­ter with good light and then make a col­lage, spend­ing hours pro­cess­ing the over­all pic­ture. And you can pre­pare in advance and take a good shot right away than sit in pro­grams and rack your brains.

We tell you how to place mod­els in the frame and what equip­ment is suit­able to pho­to­graph sev­er­al peo­ple at once.

Source: www.piqsels.com

Composition and poses for a group portrait

— One of the main rules of a group por­trait is that the faces of all par­tic­i­pants must be clear­ly vis­i­ble. To do this, try to place the char­ac­ters in the frame accord­ing to the fol­low­ing prin­ci­ple: their bod­ies can touch, visu­al­ly over­lap each oth­er to cre­ate a sense of com­mu­ni­ty, but it is bet­ter to place their faces at an equal dis­tance from each oth­er. You can break this prin­ci­ple at a fam­i­ly pho­to shoot. For exam­ple, a moth­er cling­ing to a child will look har­mo­nious in the frame.

— A com­mon tech­nique bor­rowed from paint­ing is the use of geo­met­ric com­po­si­tions. The bot­tom line is that the faces of the char­ac­ters, if you draw an invis­i­ble line between them and con­nect them, form a tri­an­gle, square, cir­cle, diag­o­nal or rec­tan­gle between them.

If you use a tri­an­gle as the basis for build­ing a frame, then ide­al­ly most of the heroes should be placed at the bot­tom of the pic­ture, and one should be placed at the top, there­by direct­ing the com­po­si­tion upwards. If there are more than three peo­ple in the frame, then there can be sev­er­al tri­an­gles.

The heads of the heroes form an oval / piqsels.com

Anoth­er com­mon tech­nique is to build a diag­o­nal. It can rush to the side, as if try­ing to go hor­i­zon­tal, or go from bot­tom to top, striv­ing for the ver­ti­cal. For a large num­ber of par­tic­i­pants, there may be sev­er­al diag­o­nals of dif­fer­ent direc­tions. Or two diag­o­nals can inter­sect in the cen­ter, visu­al­ly form­ing a wedge. For exam­ple, the head of the cam­paign can stand in the cen­ter, and the rest of the staff can stand on the sides. Or a cou­ple of new­ly­weds in the cen­ter, and guests around.

Two slight­ly inclined diag­o­nals con­verge on the mod­el in the cen­ter, form­ing a wedge / piqsels.com

Arrange the faces of the char­ac­ters in a cir­cle to show their com­mon­al­i­ty and loop the com­po­si­tion. For this geo­met­ric fig­ure, non-stan­dard angles are often used — from below, ask­ing the char­ac­ters to sur­round the cam­era and bend over, or pho­tograph­ing mod­els from above while they are lying.

Exper­i­ment with dif­fer­ent shapes. Com­bine sev­er­al tri­an­gles, a tri­an­gle and a square if you are pho­tograph­ing a large group of peo­ple. The task is to make the view­er or cus­tomer feel the com­plete­ness cre­at­ed by the geo­met­ric com­po­si­tion.

— Use dif­fer­ent shots — put some peo­ple away from the cam­era, and oth­ers clos­er. This is a good tech­nique for film­ing, where there are obvi­ous cen­tral fig­ures, lead­ers: the new­ly­weds, the birth­day boy, the head of the com­pa­ny, the soloist of the musi­cal group.

— To shoot a large group of peo­ple, use all the advan­tages of the loca­tion — seat the heroes on chairs, sofas, arm­chairs, ask some­one to sit down or even lie down, place them at dif­fer­ent heights (if there is a lad­der). A good trick is to pho­to­graph the group from above. Get ready to take sev­er­al iden­ti­cal shots — some­one will def­i­nite­ly blink, look to the side and you will have to “chem­ize” in graph­ic edi­tors.

When shoot­ing large groups of peo­ple, the fact that all par­tic­i­pants are in the pic­ture is often impor­tant. It is unlike­ly that you will be required to have a com­plex com­po­si­tion if you are pho­tograph­ing forty peo­ple. The main require­ment here is that all heroes should be clear­ly vis­i­ble.

— Hands also help to con­nect peo­ple in the pho­to, unob­tru­sive­ly point­ing in the direc­tion of oth­er heroes, lying on their shoul­ders, hug­ging, and so on. Any of these inter­ac­tions cre­ates a sense of com­mu­ni­ty, unites the char­ac­ters.

Oth­er­wise, the hands should empha­size the pose, or be busy with some­thing. For exam­ple, if you are pho­tograph­ing peo­ple for a busi­ness por­trait, they may fold their arms over their chests and raise their chins slight­ly to show con­fi­dence. If you are pho­tograph­ing musi­cians, for exam­ple, hold­ing musi­cal instru­ments will help to con­nect them and empha­size the com­mon activ­i­ty.

— The turn of the head, the look of one char­ac­ter towards the oth­er also con­nects the peo­ple in the frame com­po­si­tion­al­ly. At the same time, ask the mod­els to slight­ly turn their faces in your direc­tion — so, in three quar­ters, it will be bet­ter vis­i­ble.

The con­nec­tion between the char­ac­ters is sup­port­ed by the gaze of the mod­els at each oth­er, the direc­tion of the head towards the cen­ter of the right par­tic­i­pant of the frame / piqsels.comе

— Arrange peo­ple at dif­fer­ent lev­els, con­sid­er­ing their height. For exam­ple, so that tall peo­ple do not block short­er ones, put them in the back­ground. If the faces are “lost”, ask them to lean for­ward and, for exam­ple, if the log­ic of shoot­ing allows (for exam­ple, you are pho­tograph­ing a fam­i­ly or guests at a wed­ding), touch, hug those stand­ing in front. Anoth­er option is to ask the mod­els from the front rows to part a lit­tle.

In addi­tion, tall par­tic­i­pants in the pho­to shoot can, on the con­trary, be brought to the fore, seat­ed on chairs, in arm­chairs, on the floor, and short­er par­tic­i­pants can be placed stand­ing around.

— Use angles and loca­tion options to diver­si­fy your shoot­ing. A win­ning option for any genre from wed­ding pho­tog­ra­phy to a busi­ness por­trait is a slight­ly over­head angle. So all par­tic­i­pants will be equal­ly well vis­i­ble. If you shoot “in the field”, it will be enough for you to stand above all the guests on the stairs. In the stu­dio, you can ask for a steplad­der.

In the warm sea­son, heroes can be placed on the grass, head to head. This is an inter­est­ing option if you are pho­tograph­ing fam­i­ly, friends or chil­dren / piqsels.com

The view from below is attrac­tive unusu­al. But it is com­pli­cat­ed by the fact that you need to care­ful­ly mon­i­tor faces. For exam­ple, it is very pos­si­ble that mod­els will start show­ing all their chins — sec­ond, third and imag­i­nary.

— Do not put peo­ple on a lad­der, alter­nat­ing high and low. Sim­i­lar­ly, a busi­ness por­trait will look fun­ny, where the par­tic­i­pants are lined up from low to high. But for a fam­i­ly pho­to shoot, this can be an inter­est­ing idea — this way you can focus on dif­fer­ent gen­er­a­tions.

Technique and camera settings for shooting a group portrait

— If you shoot in a pho­to stu­dio, the largest soft­box, which is pro­vid­ed along with the rental of the hall, will help to illu­mi­nate a large group of peo­ple. As a rule, this is an octo­box. For exam­ple, Ray­lab SPG150 or Godox SB-FW140.

Often this light attach­ment is so bulky and heavy that it is mount­ed on a crane — a spe­cial rack with a coun­ter­weight that allows you to rotate the light source and raise it high above the mod­els.

Make sure that head­gear, faces, hands do not block the light falling on oth­er par­tic­i­pants in the scene / piqsels.com

— To ensure that the pro­por­tions in the group por­trait are not dis­tort­ed, use clas­sic lens­es with a medi­um focal length. It is believed that these lens­es range from 35 to 50mm.

If there is not enough space in the room where you are pho­tograph­ing, you can use a wide-angle lens. But get ready that the pho­to will either have to be cropped or the per­spec­tive cor­rect­ed in graph­ic edi­tors — because of the wide angle, the walls can “float”, the legs of the mod­els can become unnat­u­ral­ly long, and the peo­ple stand­ing at the edges of the frame can “flat­ten out”.

— When shoot­ing indoors, for exam­ple, in a com­pa­ny build­ing, at a wed­ding report, in a reg­istry office, an exter­nal flash that can be mount­ed on stands will help. Aim your flash at walls or ceil­ings, don’t shine direct­ly on faces or they’ll come out flat. The main thing is not to for­get to take a syn­chro­niz­er.

— Use con­tin­u­ous shoot­ing. This way the cam­era will cap­ture the scene faster and there­fore you will have more sim­i­lar shots to choose from — one where all (or almost all) of the par­tic­i­pants have their eyes open, have smiles, and have a nat­ur­al expres­sion on their faces.

Burst shoot­ing makes it more like­ly to cap­ture mov­ing, emo­tion­al chil­dren on fam­i­ly shoots / piqsels.com

— If it’s dark where you’re shoot­ing, use a slow­er shut­ter speed. To avoid blur­ry shots due to trem­bling hands, mount your cam­era on a tri­pod.

But even in good light­ing con­di­tions, a tri­pod helps — in group shots where there are a lot of peo­ple, it is impos­si­ble to con­trol every­one. One will blink, the oth­er will look away. There­fore, it is often nec­es­sary to “trans­plant” eyes, lips and even whole heads from one pho­to to anoth­er. In this case, the tri­pod will pro­vide the same angle.

— When tak­ing group por­traits, close the aper­ture so that all faces are in focus. Every­one is dif­fer­ent, but try f/8 to f/16.

Be guid­ed by the prin­ci­ple: the more peo­ple, the greater the num­ber after f. But remem­ber that a closed aper­ture makes the pho­to appear dark­er, as less light enters the cam­era.


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