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04-04-2017, 08:04 PM   #1
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Large Group Posing - Recommendations Needed

Hello everyone, I was hoping someone could steer me in the right direction. I'm looking for charts/guides/cheat sheets on posing large groups. I could have sworn that years ago, I stumbled upon a resource on posing large groups (or maybe it was just a dream). I can't remember the exact details, but it was something along the lines of a guide on posing people depending on the amount of people in the group. For example, if it was seven people, you might do two rows with three in the front and four the back. Or, three rows and you would do two-two-three. Something along those lines. Does anyone have, or know of anything out there that could help me? I'll be photographing large groups for the school I work for in a couple of days (was just told about it today) and was hoping to get as much help as I could.

Anything is greatly appreciated. Thanks!

04-05-2017, 06:48 AM   #2
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One hint for an alternative: Get a fairly tall ladder and take your picture from atop, forcing the group to look up. For some reason, people tend to smile when they look up, aside from the fact that they'll all be facing at you without being asked, just to see if you'll fall. Also, you can pose the group out on flat ground and still get all the faces at the back into the picture, no need to find a flight of steps or a hillside.
04-05-2017, 07:24 AM   #3
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Second hint:

Watch your background and avoid messy-looking stuff strewn all over the place. Try to pose your group not right against the background but some distance in front of it so you can throw it out of focus with a carefully chosen aperture setting. Evenly-colored walls work, greenery/shrubbery works equally well.

Avoid midday sunlight creating harsh shadows and burnt-out facial features (& black eyes). Avoid using flash unless you have access to a professional flash setup with multiple heads and umbrellas.

Depending on the camera capabilities, go relatively high on the ISO. In a group there's always someone scratching an itch or turning a head resulting in localized motion blur - use a shutterspeed slightly higher than really required for a single portrait.

Step back further with a medium zoom rather than being up-close with a wideangle to avoid ugly distortion of legs, arms or heads. If there is a row of people sitting on the ground, make them sit at an angle and turn their heads rather than seeing a forest of legs sticking out at you.
04-05-2017, 01:18 PM   #4
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Ladder idea is a good one. Another thing to keep in mind depending on your camera aperture being used is field of focus. While using a large aperture to throw the background out of focus keep in mind that the focus distance to the center of the group will be shorter than those people at the ends of the lines, or if multiple rows of people maybe try to focus on the middle row. You want a large enough aperture to blur the background, but small enough to keep everyone in focus from one end to the other.
Take several quick photos in a row, because there will usually be people with eyes closed or looking in the wrong direction or something. Then if you have Photoshop or similar program you can "copy" and "paste" people's heads around to make a better photo. I've done this a few times and it worked out pretty good. Using a tripod helps a lot so the photos are aligned.

04-05-2017, 01:59 PM   #5
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In my limited experience with shooting groups and getting eyes open I use the following rule(s).

In a loud and clear voice get all other photographers to back off, especially if you are the primary shooter. Get them behind you and get them to turn off their focus assist lights and flashes.
Get the group into position, i.e. posed or instructed on what is to be expected.
Tell them, clearly, that they need to close their eyes and on the count of three they need to open them.
Tell them to close their eyes.
Count slowly and clearly to three - use this time to level the camera and fuss final focus. All other posing issues should be resolved way before this step.
At the count of three, wait a fraction of a second and shoot at least two shots.
If someone really screws up, call them out on it and go through the process again. Most groups want to move on and one person consistently screwing up will get a firm message from the other members.
04-10-2017, 09:59 AM - 1 Like   #6
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If you use a loud whistle, everyone will turn their heads and look at you simultaneously. An air-horn may work as well, but beware of unanticipated heart attacks if the group is elderly. Ringing a bell will just make them expect to be fed.

Last edited by 35mmfilmfan; 04-10-2017 at 09:59 AM. Reason: Additional vital information
04-10-2017, 12:44 PM   #7
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Beware of using a horn. Many will squint or wince and that will not look good. Something gentle like a tinkling bell, or one of those invert-to-hear-a-cow gizmos is more likely to elicit both attention and the smiles you want.
04-10-2017, 02:19 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by reivax Quote
Hello everyone, I was hoping someone could steer me in the right direction. I'm looking for charts/guides/cheat sheets on posing large groups. I could have sworn that years ago, I stumbled upon a resource on posing large groups (or maybe it was just a dream). I can't remember the exact details, but it was something along the lines of a guide on posing people depending on the amount of people in the group. For example, if it was seven people, you might do two rows with three in the front and four the back. Or, three rows and you would do two-two-three. Something along those lines. Does anyone have, or know of anything out there that could help me? I'll be photographing large groups for the school I work for in a couple of days (was just told about it today) and was hoping to get as much help as I could.

Anything is greatly appreciated. Thanks!
I always do something silly to get attention. Being silly, it also gets them to smile at the same time. Example: With camera in right hand or on tripod, I hold my left hand up in the air and wiggle my fingers while making a noise "ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZEEEEEE" It is easier to do than to describe. It sounds pretty stupid, but itd works for me and evokes smiles as well.

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