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There are usually three kinds of group shots. First are just formal shots with a large number of people. Second are more informal shots with a group of friends. And finally, photographing a group or family members. In this order, let’s look at some sample poses and posing ideas.
1. When working with a large group of people you won’t be able to control each individual’s pose or expression. This is fine as long as you pay attention to the overall composition. Imagine the whole group to be a single object. Principally, make sure that all people in the group are visible.
2. When photographing large groups, quite often the only possible composition in order to get everyone into the frame will be to compose in full height. These kind of shots are usually formal and documentary so again, your primary objective here would be to get everyone in the group clearly visible.
3. If possible, search for ways to shoot from an elevated angle. Using a balcony or climbing on a car to get a higher viewpoint could work perfectly. It will definitely be worth the effort, because instead of an ordinary and common group shot you will get more interesting and inviting perspective.
4. There are occasions when standing separately for the members of a group will be more appropriate than “keeping heads together”. Maybe it’s not the best way to take a “friendly group”, but might work very well for a small team shot, e.g. music band or co-workers in a project. If a group has a known leader, put him or her in front for even stronger composition.
5. This is pretty much a standard way to photograph a group of friends. Yes, it’s easy, ordinary and common way to pose for snapshots, but it really works, so – why not?
6. This is a fun composition which comes across as a quite friendly pose. Ask everyone to stand very close together. Then make them lean their heads slightly closer to each other and towards the camera.
7. Ask the group to form a circle while lying in the grass outdoors or on the ground indoors while you shoot from above.
8. Very fun and rewarding way to set up a small group of people. Choose a “group leader” and put him or her in front. The others should then join one by one. Each of them is supposed to stand behind the previous person peeking towards the camera over the shoulder etc. Supporting themselves a little on the person directly in front adds to the cordiality of the composition.
9. A slight variation of the previous one. Put a “group leader” in front and the others to appear behind each other. Take shots with different aperture settings and choose later if you prefer only the first one or all of the group members to be in focus.
10. Very fun way for informal picture of group of friends. For the best results, ask a group to make a jump after a short run.
11. Very rewarding and interesting composition is to shoot group of people in a row. Check that everybody is clearly visible and shoot from a close distance with a wide aperture and focus on the first person. Yes, people farther away will be blurred, but they will still agree that a result is a very interesting and unusual looking group shot.
12. Now, let’s look at some family samples. The most common way to photograph all the family members is sitting on a couch in the living room. It is not the most creative way for a family shot, but it can be done quite fine. The easiest way to improve these standard compositions is simply to crop real tight. Don’t include that lovely couch and room’s furniture in the shot. Fill the frame with and only with all the family members.
13. Another good idea for family shots is to simply get outside. Sitting in the lawn, in a local park or on a beach – all of these are excellent places to take some family shots. Just remember – when subjects are sitting, don’t remain standing – get low and shoot from your subjects’ eye level.
14. A family lying close together on the ground. Make them lift their upper bodies a bit by using their arms as supports. Shoot from a low angle.
15. A beautiful composition for a family shot. Might be done outdoors on the ground or indoors in a bed. Works absolutely fine with any number of kids.
16. Cozy pose with a family sitting comfortably on their favorite couch.
17. For an unusual and interesting family picture, turn the traditional couch photo setting around. Simply take your shots from the back side and see what a huge difference it can make.
18. Just a slight variation when taking a picture from the couch’s back side.
19. Absolutely beautiful way to make shots of a group of family members. Just ask the kids to hang onto the adults’ backs.
20. Very easy pose for a full height shot. As you can imagine, works well with any number of persons.
21. Take shots with the family walking hand in hand. Shoot in continuous mode and select the photos with the best leg movement and positioning. Keep in mind to control a focus, while subjects are approaching from a distance.
And finally, be creative and come up with different variants on your own. Think of ways you can transform the corresponding pose for your particular shooting scenario and subjects. Use these initial sample poses as a source for your own creativity!
Kaspars Grinvalds is a photographer working and living in Riga, Latvia. He is the author of Posing App where more poses and tips about people photography are available.