3 Photography Tips for Better Group Pictures

Advantages of being on Facebook is that you can keep up with your Friends no matter where they are. After several years (more than I care to remember) we decided it was time to have a Reunion. One came all the way from Cleveland!

Off to Independence Kentucky I went with a close friend that lived by me for a reunion with others. We got together, at one friend's house, had some laughs while eating and enjoying each other's company. At the end of the evening the women with us wanted to do some pictures.

 Try to get heads on different levels when doing a group shot. Also notice how the slight shadows on our faces helped make a more 3D image.

Try to get heads on different levels when doing a group shot. Also notice how the slight shadows on our faces helped make a more 3D image.

As others pulled out their smart phones, I ran to my car and got my trusty point and shoot Canon G1x Mark II camera that I use for fun pictures like this. Wouldn't you know they wanted me in the picture! Before I got this camera, I hated having someone use my camera to take a photo as the pictures typically ended up being out of focus! But this camera has really good Face Recognition (which I had set up prior to handing it over) and felt confident we would get some good shots.

Being the pro photographer in the group (me in blue) of course I posed us. Other than that I have to say the photographer, Michelle, did great! I couldn't have done any better had I been behind the camera!

All of us guys are tall and so lining us up standing in a row would not make for a very good picture. As most of the guys have a hard time getting down on one knee I suggested we grab something to sit on. Yes, we rearranged the furniture in the room just for this purpose. After checking a couple of shots where I was standing behind the group I realized that it just did not look right? I decided to sit two of us in front. I didn't get exactly what my diagram below suggests but I feel the image works!

1. When posing groups use steps or chairs etc. to get heads on different levels

Cincinnati Portrait Group Posing Tip

Being on the other side of the camera, I had no idea what we were going to get till after the picture was taken! It was a unique experience for me. The great thing about digital is you can see what you did right after taking the picture. It was all good fun!

2. Inside in low light use a camera with flash for better picture lighting and quality

For even better light like you see in these images is to have an external flash that you can angle to point at the ceiling. Something you won't be able to do with a smartphone. The Canon G1x Mark II has a external flash connection (called a hot shoe). I bought a small Canon Speedlite 270 EX Flash just for the purpose of using it with this camera.

 Face Recognition with this camera is awesome! Give the camera to someone to take your picture and you get perfect focus with every shot!

Face Recognition with this camera is awesome! Give the camera to someone to take your picture and you get perfect focus with every shot!

The trick with this type of indoor group photography is to bounce the light off the ceiling and on to your subjects. And this flash allows for that function. Prior to shooting a digital camera I never used bounce flash as sometimes I did not angle the light properly and got too much top light. But with digital I can see right after taking the picture, and try different angles till I can see light in my subjects eyes. I had taken a couple of test shots prior to handing over the camera.

 Flash can be set to bounce off the ceiling at different angles. Shown here it is set to bounce at 90 degrees.

Flash can be set to bounce off the ceiling at different angles. Shown here it is set to bounce at 90 degrees.

The safe shot is to have the flash aimed forward. The disadvantage of this is that it flattens out the picture. You see less shadows and don't get that 3D look that makes a picture come alive. Also you get more glare on everything including people's glasses and any shiny objects showing behind the subjects.

 Canon Speedlite 270 EX facing forward. I only do this when I need more power for say bigger groups.

Canon Speedlite 270 EX facing forward. I only do this when I need more power for say bigger groups.

I rarely use the flash firing forward as you see here unless I need more power out of it as bouncing does weaken the amount of light that reaches the subjects.

Switch to "Read in Browser" to watch this Youtube video I found on smartphone group shots. Notice some heads on different levels just by their height.

3. For Group Shots with a Smartphone take your groups outside for better light.

Smartphones have limited ability when photographing groups in low light such as inside. If you have a lot of daylight coming in through windows then that is ok. Make sure that the windows are to your back. Else take your group outside in daylight and make sure the phone's flash is turned off.

For this reason I highly recommend the Canon Powershot G with an X series of cameras if you want to get better quality than most smartphones. As what makes the quality in digital photography is the size of the sensor and the quality of the lens. Smartphones have a small senor and a fixed lens.

The new Canon point and shoot camera series has the 1.0 inch sensor that is much bigger than the old point and shoot cameras (and approx. 3 times bigger than most smartphones) and allows low light photography. Also when zooming the lens you keep the higher resolution quality. Unlike smartphones which just crop into the image making it look bigger but as the expense of quality (else the pictures will start looking soft and mushy). You want a camera with an actual zoom lens connected to it, In my opinion.

The Canon G3X, G5x and G1X Mark II all have a hot shoe where you can mount an external flash. In addition they all allow wi-fi so you can easily move pictures to your smartphone say if you wanted to post them to Instagram or to show friends.

Click here to go to Canon's website to see these models.

CONCLUSION

Smartphones are great in that you almost always have your camera with you. They do pretty good job outdoors as well as inside if there is enough light? As I mentioned above, you'll get better pictures with digital cameras geared specifically for low light situations, such as the Canon series.

Please share this post with friends and followers. And don't forget to leave a comment below.

Thanks,

Dave Likes