One of my least favorite things to do is take group photos, specifically at weddings!
It can be extremely chaotic, especially when there are a lot of kids.
But, it is one of those things that you will find yourself needing to do eventually as a photographer. So here is how I take large group shots.
Give Simple Posing Instructions
There will be a lot of people which will make it harder to focus on each individual to make sure they have the proper pose. So I keep it simple.
With guys I usually have them stand with hands in their pockets or over another person's shoulder or back or folding them.
With girls, I bind joints. Maybe one leg slightly bent, arms on hips or around another person's shoulder or back and maybe their head slightly tilted to one side.
From my experience with group shots, people don't always listen. I'm sure it's because of all of the excitement of the event. Basically, if all else feels, no straight arms to their sides.
Read more about posing your subjects in my 'How I Pose My Subjects' post.
Take Lots of Pictures
When you are ready to start snapping pictures, make sure you stand in the same place and try not to move very much. That way it will be much easier if you need to do some head swapping later.
Sometimes you can get lucky and snap one picture with everyone looking and smiling, but not likely.
I usually take like 10-15 pictures (depending on how many people there are in the group) and keep looking around to make sure I got at least one of each person looking and smiling at the camera.
There will almost ALWAYS be someone blinking or looking away or making a goofy face at the exact moment you snap the picture. So its good to have lots to choose from.
If you have the time (which is almost never the case during a wedding) quickly glance through the images on the back of your camera's screen to make sure you got at least one good one of each person.
Don’t Sweat It
Sometimes you will find yourself doing insanely large groups with people ranging from small children to elderly. These can be almost impossible to pull off perfectly. So don’t beat up on yourself if it's not perfect.
Here is a group I did of over 40 people. I swear I had everyone lined up where no one would be hidden. But people settle in and jostle about. So with a large group like this, a lot can change VERY quickly! Even though I took around 40 pictures, I still didn’t have enough to fix everything.
It’s easy to miss someone in a group of 40!
Swapping Heads in Post
Depending on how cooperative your subjects where, you will likely have to swap some heads from one image to the next. That is why we took so many images.
I will take each group of images from each group shoot and pull out enough of them to piece together one great group shot.
I then open them up in Photoshop and swap heads from one image to the next to make one good group image where everyone is looking and smiling.
A lot of parents are bewildered and amazed when I give them a great group shot of all of their kids looking and smiling in one image when they knew that it was impossible! 😆