Think of a theme for your group shot. If your subjects don’t object, have them arrange themselves in a way that illustrates an idea or theme. Some ideas might be: everyone has a surprised expression, the group might all create funny faces, everyone wears sunglasses or the same color clothing. Choose an idea or theme that will be meaningful to the group or the event. Solid colors always look better than patterned clothing. Ask your group to dress in bright solid colors to ensure the photo looks well thought out. Years from the photo shoot date, you’ll have great memories of the experience.
If you live in a scenic area, count your blessings and choose a location that will make a nice backdrop for your group. Even the worse looking group can look fantastic set against an inspiring natural setting. Find a neighborhood entrance waterfall; a small lake; an old, yet safe, wooden bridge; or an old, red barn for example. You might choose a time of day that will give a particular mood to your group shot. A sunset can give a romantic or nostalgic mood. Whereas a daylight shot will look fun and energetic.
Remember to bring props and furniture. There may be a need to seat some of the group so you can have some people seated in front of those standing. You might also want to have your group seated on a blanket. Bring options to choose from because you can be surprised at some of the landscape or weather that you will encounter even if you did your homework by scouting a location ahead of time.
Arrange groups on various levels
Add a little drama to your group shot by arranging your subjects on various levels. Try using outdoor steps or stairs in order to have group members on a variety of levels, ensuring everyone’s faces can clearly be seen.
Close the gaps
Most people have a natural bubble around them and it feels uncomfortable to stand too close to others. However, in photography, a tight grouping looks great, even natural. Having all faces grouped together is visually pleasing. Tell your group to pretend they like one another and scoot a little tighter together.
Avoid shooting your group under tree branches or anything that will cast a shadow or scattered light. Shadows on faces cause facial distortions and can make your friends or family look mad, mean, or unhappy. Also, avoid arranging your group towards the sun. This will likely cause them to squint and create an unpleasant expression.
Make sure clothing of your group doesn’t clash with the person standing beside them in the group. Break up colors of several people wearing the same color by putting group members wearing other colors between the ones with matching colors. Bright, solid colors photograph much better than pastel colors or patterns.
In a Blink
Increase your odds of a great photo by making sure you take numerous photos of every arrangement. Shooting group photography can have some of the same concerns as portrait photography. You want to make sure everyone in your shot has their faces in focus with good expressions, and not obscured by the person standing in front of them. Don’t get too bossy or strict with your group. They will respond better to your direction if you have a casual and fun attitude. Take your time and make the group photo experience a memorable event for your group.