Pros an Cons of Shooting Alone Versus Being a Group Photographer?

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An age-old question in life, not just photography, is are you a pack animal or a lone ranger? Everyone reading this will have their own answer to this question, it’s not even a black and white answer. In this article, the question posed is whether you shoot alone or are more of a group photographer?

Let’s take a look at the two different approaches to doing photography, and then compare them to see which one is better. Whether one is better is really just subjective, but depending on your favored form of photography you’ll certainly have a preference.

Do you Shoot Alone or are you More of a Group Photographer?

Joining other photographers is great, although they sometimes get in your shot!

Photographing solo

The preference for many photographers is to photograph alone. There are a lot of good reasons why this is best, so let’s take a look at a few of them:

  • Get into the zone – To achieve the best photos, being distracted by others is rarely a recipe for success. Photographers will often get into a zone where a heightened sense of the environment around them will lead to better photos.
  • Set your own schedule – When you visit a place, and how long you spend there are very important factors in photography. Whether you’re a street photographer waiting for that perfect moment, or a landscape shooter photographing blue hour, the schedule matters.
  • Choose where to visit – Equally important, and related to the point above is where you choose to visit and shoot. Even if you travel with a fellow photographer, they may well want to visit a different place to suit their style of photography. Shooting alone allows you to be totally focused on your goal.
Do you Shoot Alone or are you More of a Group Photographer?

Photographing alone is the favored choice of many photographers, it helps you get more in the zone.

  • Get your own angle – There will never be another photographer standing in the way of your composition when you photograph alone. Equally, you don’t need to worry about getting in the way of someone else, or getting to the best angle second.
  • Curate your own photo –  Those who do portrait photography will know that creative control of the pose and position of your model are key. As is forming a close working relationship with your model. When photographing without other photographers these things are easier to achieve.
  • Learn from your own mistakes – You’ll make mistakes along the way, even those with experience do. It might mean adding to your knowledge after you have made your mistake, but the next time you photograph this self-improvement will take you up a level.
Do you Shoot Alone or are you More of a Group Photographer?

The chance to work one to one with a model means you can work on your own concepts and ideas.

Photographing with a group

Of course, sharing your photography with others has some drawbacks, but there are also a lot of positives to photographing with other people. So whether you’re a solo or group photographer take a look at this list, and decide for yourself if you can benefit from joining a group, even if only occasionally.

  • Share your experience – The act of exploring and seeing a new place is often more pleasurable when you have company. You may even be able to model for each other if the location would be better enhanced with a person in the scene.
  • Pool your resources – Photography can be expensive when it comes to equipment, model hire, and location rental. These costs can be cut considerably by joining forces with other photographers.
  • Share knowledge – One of the very best ways to learn about photography is from other photographers, that’s why you’re here right? Whether you’re experienced or new to photography you’ll find everyone can offer advice or tips that could improve your work.
Do you Shoot Alone or are you More of a Group Photographer?

Joining a group of photographer allows you to dip into their pool of knowledge.

  • Safety – Carrying an expensive piece of camera gear? Heading out late at night for some photography? Having a few people with you when you photograph makes it a lot safer.
  • Collaborations – To create a group project, you need a group! So getting to know some fellow photographers will facilitate this. Likewise, photographing a model often takes more than one person, sharing duties to hold the light stand helps a lot.
  • Share your photos – Groups of photographers often share their work either each other. Sharing your photos is a great way to improve your photography, as you often get feedback on the photos you have shared.
Do you Shoot Alone or are you More of a Group Photographer?

This group of photographers was on a photo walk which I organized.

Do you Shoot Alone or are you More of a Group Photographer?

This is a photo taken on that photo walk, it was later shared with the participants through social media.

Being a solo or group photographer, which is best?

There are lots of pros and cons for shooting alone or with a group of photographers. The best answer is to make time to do both. Join a group perhaps once a week, and photograph by yourself on other occasions.

The genre of photography you do will also have a big impact on your choice, portrait photographers using strobes often need a team. On the other hand, if you’re a landscape or street photographer photographing alone may be best.

There is a middle solution though. The group doesn’t have to be large, perhaps only two or three. When all the photographers share the same interest, it can be just like photographing alone, only you have a group.

Do you Shoot Alone or are you More of a Group Photographer?

Are you a solo or group photographer? Why not be both? My friend and fellow dPS writer Pete DeMarco is someone with whom I’ve often photographed. We allowed each other enough space to photograph “alone” but then meet later after we’re done shooting.

Do you Shoot Alone or are you More of a Group Photographer?

Myself and Pete enjoy taking cityscape photos, so meeting up to do the same style of photography makes sense.

What kind of group should you join?

There are plenty of types of groups that you can join if you’re interested in meeting some new people. Not all of them even require you to meet other photographers in person, we do after all live in a digital global age. So let’s take a look at a few possibilities.

  • Attend a photo walk – These are often one-off events and can involve large crowds. They’re great for meeting a lot of new faces, not always so good for taking the best photo. A very well known event like this is Scott Kelby’s worldwide photo walk, held once a year. An alternative idea to a photo walk is a potluck photography party, why not try it out?
Do you Shoot Alone or are you More of a Group Photographer?

This steel wool fire spinning photography event was organized by a photography club.

  • Join a photo club – A great way to meet other photographers on a regular basis, and therefore learn from them. Groups like this often organize photography outings or perhaps hire a model for the club members to work with and photograph.
  • Online communities – In reading and participating with this website you are part of a photography community. Even though not in person, participating online is a great way to gain knowledge. There is always the possibility of travel as well, you can meet people on a trip perhaps.
  • Take part in a workshop – Meeting other photographers on a workshop is a great way to socialize, and learn at the same time.
Do you Shoot Alone or are you More of a Group Photographer?

Joining a group of photographer allows you to share the cost of hiring a model. It also means you lose control of pose and position. You also need to avoid getting into each other’s photos.

Are you a solo or a group photographer?

So which kind of photographer are you? A solo or a group photographer? Are there any other reasons why you like to photograph alone, or in a group?

If you photograph alone, why not reach out to a group and become part of a community. Although it’s nice to photograph alone, there is a raft of benefits to joining up with others. You’ll likely make some new friends, the type you can form a close friendship with through a shared interest.

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Simon Bond is a specialist in creative photography techniques and is well known for his work with a crystal ball. His work has featured in national newspapers and magazines including National Geographic Traveler. With over 8 years of experience in crystal ball photography Simon is the leading figure in this field, get some great tips by downloading his free e-book! Do you want to learn more about crystal ball photography? He has a video course just for you! Use this code to get 20% off: DPS20.

  • Paul H

    H’mm The only time I have seen the better known pro photographers in a group is when they are charging the group for being their guide Occasionally they will do a landscape shoot in pairs but when they get to the target they will split up and focus on a different part of the scene, Again with landscape photography and visit an already overshot scene, the tip given is to get an unused viewpoint or edit. In these places you don’t need to go as a group as there is a group already waiting for you.

  • Interesting topic! As an ISTJ with strong introversion myself, I always shoot alone (my main interest is cityscapes at blue hour). For me, photography is a way to secure much-needed alone time. That said, I guess it’d be fun to shoot with one or two friends (no more than that!) interested in the same photography genre.

  • Simon Bond

    Hi Paul yes I think you’re broadly speaking correct. Photo walks like Scott kelby’s can be an occasion when large groups get together. Though the only other reason as you mention are usually financial, or something that leads onto something financial.

  • Simon Bond

    Hi Joey, yes I also value that time to be outdoors and losing myself in the moment. That said I’ve seen how getting together with a group can help over the years as well, so I’m much more in the middle these days as the article suggests. I’d still photograph alone most days, but there are certainly times when collaborations work.

  • Tom Cooper

    I have to agree with being an introvert and wanting to shoot alone. I have always found myself enduring photo walks or photo sessions with others, but find it liberating and energizing to shoot on my own.

  • Rod Best

    I like doing both, though usually only with one or two people to a group and we do landscape photography. So quite often we split up some, but if you need to use the restroom or go back to the car, it’s nice to have someone who can watch your stuff for a few minutes. When alone, I try to be keenly aware of what and who’s around me, but sometimes you get caught up and don’t pay as much attention as you should. The other day I was the only person on a lake shore for a sunset in kind of a semi-remote area. I had been there awhile waiting for the sun to set, when I turned around and suddenly realized there was another photographer not 15 ft behind me and was all setup to shoot. It wasn’t a problem, but what if that person wasn’t a photographer and may have had other things on their mind. If I have to hike in to a spot, I’m a little reluctant to do it, just in case something happens. like getting injured or something along those lines.

  • Michael Barnes

    for me. two is the magic number.
    more than that and the outing becomes more social than photography.
    you end up waiting on people, going their way, telling them to get out of your shots!
    but with two ive found i feel less socially arkward and by watching what he does, i can steal all his ideas and compositions i wouldnt have thought of!

  • Charlene

    Very interesting article! I much prefer to shoot alone but have recently learned that there is great value in “sharing sessions” with other photographers. I love that there are questions asked, opinions and advice suggested, and various topics explored in more depth than I might have considered just by myself. It’s also energizing to feel others’ passion for what they do! I like to think that I can find a group that will share information but then disperse when it’s time to photograph. I’m a nature photographer that uses my immersion in nature as an “excuse” to carry my camera!!

  • markflag

    Totally solo. If with photog buddies we split up at a destination and meet up later. There is perhaps one friend with whom I would routinely go out shooting and stick together. We’ve known each other 50 years.

    In part I have a neurological disorder that occasionally slows me down on hills, in the cold, or when doing a lot of kneel, stand, kneel photo work. Definitely alone.

  • PJ

    Might check out a personal tracker like DeLorme or SPOT to add a safety factor. I often travel alone but people are able to track me on a map when I give them the link, and there’s an SOS button to call for help. (Yes, it costs money to subscribe, but worth the peace of mind).

  • PJ

    Most often shoot solo as it’s nice to stop when/where I want, but a small group is good for safety, holding diffusers/reflectors and sharing creative ideas.

  • Simon Bond

    Thanks for letting us know PJ, I’m much the same as well actually.

  • Simon Bond

    Hey Mark, very interesting to hear. I think meeting up, and then photographing alone can be a good way to do things.

  • Simon Bond

    Hi Charlene, it’s good to hear your way of photographing has evolved to include more group photography. I think I went through a similar experience, it’s great to photograph alone, but you can learn much from a group when you get together.

  • Simon Bond

    Yes working together in a pair can be good. So yes you’re kind of getting 1:1 tuition in a way, as you’re right you can watch and learn from your partner… as they know doubt do to you as well.

  • Simon Bond

    Those going into the wilderness, yes probably wise to go with someone for that added element of protection. I know one or two photographers who go in pairs for this reason alone. I think PJ’s idea of a tracker is a really good one.

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