How to Shoot a Large Group

Today’s Photoshoot Objective:  Take photos of a 12-person group on-location in January.

The Challenges:  1) It is a cold and foggy Winter morning in the Bay Area.  We’re talking really dense fog!   2) It is a large group and I don’t want all the photos to be posey-posey shots.

Hmmmm…..

The Solution:

1) Give structure to the group shots by coming up with a creative vision and communicating that to the group.

Since there were 2 kids under 8 years old, I couldn’t waste time because younger kids have shorter attention spans.  So I needed to come up with a plan quickly and get the large group shots out of the way in the beginning.

2) Don’t be afraid to pose your subjects.

Posing a large group is important, otherwise the subjects will be scattered randomly and the final image will not look cohesive.  (You don’t have to worry about that when it is a smaller group — like 5 people or fewer.)  You want to give some direction as to where to go and sometimes even what to do (ie, lean on this, stand here, put her hand here), but then let them have some fun with it!  Otherwise, everyone’s smiles will look forced, which we don’t want!

3) Break up the large group into smaller groups.

With smaller groups, I could get more creative by tailoring different images for different groups.

The Entire T Clan

This is an example of a posed large group shot.

Steps provide a great platform to stagger subjects, so you can see everyone’s faces.  The obstacle here was a fence that blocked the lower steps, so we couldn’t use those — and thus, I decided to place the couples on the deck and gave them their own space, so it is more visually pleasing than having all of them squeezed together.

Then there are the smaller groups within….

The Grandkids & Grandparents

I shot long to show off the beautiful environment they were in.

Then I shot wide and changed it to sepia in post-processing.

I can see more of the interesting textures that surround them when the image is in sepia, and all the smiling faces really jump out of the image.

How cute are they?!!  🙂

“The Boys”

Okay, the adult “boys”!

I saw these beautiful doors to the Carriage House and wanted to do something with the guys.  Since the pattern on the house was very linear, I posed the guys in a linear fashion:  standing straight up, against the wall, and spread apart.

A Mother and Her Kids

This is Sue and her kids, Michelle (16), Vicky (15) and Sam (14).  What a handsome bunch!

Having Sue’s arms slung around her kids makes this a more relaxed photo, even though they are all looking straight at the camera.

Sue wanted to take a photo with one of her kids.  I told them to walk down the path rather than stand directly in front of me.  Midway, I called for them to turn to look at me.

The result:  natural expressions and an image that is way more interesting than two people standing still!

Glamour Shots

No one asked me to do this — and certainly not the kids!  But you put some cute teenagers in front of me and I can’t help but take some fun headshots of them!

I know every teen, especially teenage girls, want nice photos of themselves.  Even if they won’t admit it publicly!  😉

And I looooove how they turned out.  They look gorgeous.


The Kids

Giving subjects something to do — even if it’s just something to lean against — helps to make a group shot look more natural.

Couple Shots

Sue and Tommy just had their 17th wedding anniversary!  And that calls for some nice Couple Shots to commemorate this time in their lives. Note:  I had to drag them kicking and screaming, but what is important is that you can’t tell from the photos! 🙂


I also have a beautiful shot of Leonora and Min that I am tempted to post, but I want them to hire me again, so I better not. <:)

Some Fun Shots

I call these images:  “Nicolas, come baaaaaaack!” and “A REAL sneak peek!”


By the way, I did Leonora and Min’s lifestyle shoot about 2 months ago.  (Click here to see some photos from their November 2009 shoot.)

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