This is a guide covering tips for taking group photos.
We’ve all been there at one point or another: a special moment where the group photo just doesn’t do it justice.
How do you take a good group photo? Group photos are quite interesting.
They seem to be simple, but unbeknownst to most people, they require an eye for composition and posing, as well as knowledge on the best lens for large group photos or smaller group photos.
We’ll be covering the following topics (click on a bullet point to jump to that section):
Table of Contents
1. Use a Mid-range Lens
A wide-angle lens might not be the best lens for large group photos. Though “wide” might mean that it’ll cover more spaces, the use of a wide lens will distort everything in the foreground.
On the contrary, the best way to take group photos with everyone in focus is by using mid-range lenses between 35mm and 50mm.
Don’t forget to consider the space that you have; you might need to take some steps back, and that’s how to take group photos without missing the lens’s focus.
2. Use a Tripod
Wondering how to take group photos with a more stable grip and less camera shake?
You might lose the lighting or the composition if you fail to stay in one place while using your own hand.
Using a tripod for group photos is an underrated but effective idea.
Whether you’re in an indoor studio, or outside with natural lighting – using a tripod gives you more stability and comfort in setting your camera to take the best photo possible.
You can also use the self-timer feature in your camera if you’d like to join the photo.
A tripod can also help you to avoid one of the most common mistakes in photography: shaky hands.
Sometimes a good moment or pose is lost because we’ve taken shaky pictures, which make the focus inaccurate or distort the lights in the image.
By using a tripod, you can avoid these kinds of problems and capture the right moment right away.
3. Neutral Background
A group photoshoot means there’s already several subjects ready to be photographed.
More complex backgrounds, such as those that involve multiple colours, might distract the focus even more, so how do you take group photos with a good background?
The simple answer is to look for neutral backgrounds so as not to let the subject get lost the background.
Solid colours or calm environments are a good way to go; they’re an essential part of helping you to take group photos with everyone in focus.
You should also use additional lights with a reflector or flash. This is to negate the “red-eye” that is so often produced by digital cameras but also to brighten image beautifully.
A group photoshoot means there will be a lot of subjects to keep in focus.
It is recommended to have a higher f-stop such as f/16 or f/22 to ensure all of your subjects are in focus.
If you need a refresher on f-stops, check out this visual:
5. Posing & Composition
There are likely to be various postures in the group, and if the image is not well composed, it can look a little imbalanced.
Letting everyone stand in a random place is definitely not how you take group photos. You need to have a sense of what good group photography poses would look like.
It actually depends on the context, but the next points will give you some specific advice on how to pose the group.
6. Have a Commercial Sense
If you’re working with a band, or a group that wants to be the highlight of a message, there would be different group photography poses involved than, say, in a family portrait photo.
So how do you take a group photo in this situation?
You can begin by choosing whether they are in the foreground or centre of the picture.
You can also position your subjects to have their heads turned in a slightly different direction from the chest or torso, but all looking in the same direction, which tends to give them unique personality while maintaining the cohesive composition.
Early 2000s boybands like Backstreet Boys, One Direction and even Kpop bands have several photos like this.
Some might ask how to take group photos with everyone in focus without being boring or bland.
Well, you can make use of unorthodox settings while keeping the same principle: highlight the people.
For example, Kpop Band Blackpink uses four neon squares in their Square Two LP photoshoot. It highlights the members’ faces while allowing for different poses and angles.
7. Family Photos
Any information on how to take group photos would be incomplete without the inclusion of family photos. There are two types of family photographs:
This type of photo requires the least amount of effort when it comes to group photography poses.
Cohesive types are often those that involve a small number of family members.
The goal is to make them seen as close as possible to give a sense of harmony and communality. It’s your typical shoulder hug photo.
When the family asks you to take photos at their wedding or in a lavish setting, it is quite helpful for you to group people in couples, with spaces among them.
Usually, parents and parents-in-law are on the wings, and the married couple is in the center. This makes the image look wide and creates a lavish impression for their big day.
8. Be Dynamic and Alive
Family photos are purely meant to preserve memories.
Sometimes, if the image is static and bland, it doesn’t matter if you have the best lens for large group photos.
Giving stern directions to families or couples that aren’t accustomed to group photography poses will only make them look awkward.
Try to use a motion lens and allow them to move freely to show their closeness and how happy their relationship is – this will make your photo come to life.
At the same time, be considerate and understand that some people might not want to pose in specific ways for personal reasons.
A photographer needs to make their subjects as comfortable as possible to evoke a natural feeling.
9. Position the Group Without Symmetric Height
Being perfect is boring, especially in family photography.
If you’re asking how to take group photos, this might be the main and easiest solution: pose each person in a way that doesn’t require them to be ordered according to height.
Use the properties nearby to make sure that they are asymmetrical.
10. Let the Kids Play
The group photography poses are the most natural.
If there are children involved, let them play freely by themselves.
Let them laugh and be playful, cheerful and happy. Their natural expressions will show, and it will make your photo look better than you’d expect.
To further explore group photography tips, we also recommend this video by CreativeLive.
Overall, never forget to make sure that your photo tells a story.
This is what photographers tend to forget. Smiles are stale if they’re being forced, and the most impactful images are the most authentic ones.
Even in group photos, it’s important to be able to capture the truth of the moment.
Ultimately a good photo is worth moments of a lifetime.
Nate Torres is an entrepreneur, growth marketer, and photographer and writes mostly on those topics. Nate used to run his own professional photography business called Nate Joaquin Photography but has since focused on the marketing and business aspect of photography although he still enjoys taking photos. Nate enjoys learning about new digital marketing strategy and new ways to think creatively. He is also a photography speaker and author on Photofocus.com.