By Joe Damone
When friends and family gather, there will be many photos taken with point-and-shoot cameras and cell phones. Although a great moment in time may be captured, the image itself may be less than stellar. This article will help anyone with a phone or point-and-shoot camera create better group photos.
The first order of business is to find “good light” and a non-distracting background. When photographing outside, stay away from bright midday sun, as light from directly above causes the people you are photographing to have raccoon eyes caused by direct overhead light creating shadows in the eye sockets. Look for a shady spot in the shadow of a building, under some sort of overhang like a porch, or under trees. And find the spot closest to the light outside the covered area, or photograph on an overcast day.
Stay away from busy backgrounds like parking lots or nearby trees, as the trees behind the group will appear to be growing out of the group members’ heads. Try to make the background as simple and neat as possible.
The image in Figure 1 was photographed on a cloudy day, but the background of telephone wires and poles is distracting, and many family members are looking away from the camera.
In the Figure 2 I moved the group away from the cluttered background, organized their heads in triangles, and enticed them to look into the camera. (It is especially difficult to get young children to look into the camera.) I am sure you would agree that is a more pleasing image.
When posing your group, position them in triangular sub-groups and try to evenly frame the group in the center of the image, with equal space on either side. Also have the group closer to the bottom of the frame than to the top, making sure all members of the group are looking at the camera and are smiling (see Figure 3).
Don’t forget to get some action shots, especially of the kids playing with their newly acquired toys. Try to get down to their eye level and not shoot down at them from an adult height.
A technique I use to get a good expression is to ask your group to say “hi,” making the people look like they are smiling, and then take the picture. The photographer can also tell a joke or story to get a good expression from the group, or ask them to all laugh hysterically for a fun variation.~
Joe Damone is a professional photographer based in Andes, specializing in wedding and portrait photography