My first large group experience happened shortly after I launched my business in 2005. I was hired to shoot a family reunion in a local restaurant. Sounds easy enough, right? Well, it wasn’t. The person that hired me didn’t bother to tell anyone else that she had hired a photographer, and the family was quite upset that I was “intruding” on their personal family reunion. They were grouchy, and they were MEAN. The lady that hired me wanted me to take some large group shots. I found a huge window and did the best I could given the circumstances. When a group doesn’t want their photo taken, you can see it on their faces. It makes for some awful photos, no matter how good the photographer. Note to budding photographers: Insist that the entire group KNOWS you are coming, and make sure every family member reads a copy of your “Clothing Suggestion” form. It will save you from many headaches, I promise.
Now, shooting a large group can also be tons of fun. I’ve done many that have been an absolute blast. I shook off the awful first large group experience I had and I’ve gone on to bigger and better.
When shooting a large group, you want to be sure that everyone’s clothes coordinate. Shades of blue, shades of green, anything. They don’t have to be exactly the same, but just look nicely together. If you have one person show up in a bright orange shirt and everyone else is wearing pinks and blues, he’s going to stick out like a sore thumb.
Also, who do you want to be the focus in the shot? With one large family, they were doing a special shot for the grandparent’s 50th wedding anniversary. I had grandma and grandpa sit down, and had everyone else around them.
See how great they all look in their shads of blue and khaki? I absolutely love it! And, yes, even the dog did well!
The key thing to remember when taking family photographs is that you don’t want boring. Try something different, just make sure all faces are clearly visible. No one should be hiding behind anyone else. (And, believe me, they will try!)
Another tip is to get up high. I often shoot large family groups from the top of a ladder. Why? Because I can easily fit everyone in, and it just looks cool. Weddings are the best time to do this. If the bride and groom want a photo will a very large wedding party, if there is a balcony, you can go up there and get a shot of the wedding party on the platform.
The biggest tip I can give you is to take lots and lots (and LOTS!) of photos. It’s almost guaranteed that someone will have their eyes closed or have a goofy look on their face.
When you’re going through your photos, try unique cropping angles for an even better look.
If you have some group photos you’d like to share, leave a comment here and I’ll come check them out!