With all of the relatives in town for the holidays you may be thinking that you’d like to take a group photo of everyone in the family! So if you can’t hire a professional either due to cost or availability the next best thing is doing it yourself! Here are some quick tips to help make your photo the best that it can be! And with a bunch of you getting the new iphone for Christmas you might want to even try this with your phones!
1.) Prepare! – Scout out the best location to do the photo ahead of time. Make sure your batteries are charged and your lenses are cleaned (including your phone lens)! It would be a real bummer if you couldn’t take the photo due to an empty battery or worse yet a big piece of dirt shows up in the middle of grandma’s face! Make sure everyone you want to be in the photo knows where and when you are taking it (I always ask them to be there 15-20 minutes earlier than needed to make room for late comers).
2.) Location – Make sure you choose the right spot for your photo. If you have to take the photo in the middle of the day scout out spots with open shade so that there are no harsh shadows and so people don’t have to squint in the photos. Make sure there are no distractions in the background such as signs, cars, etc. Or a window behind the group indoors where a flash can bounce back into the camera. If you are indoors I would avoid using a flash on your cell phone camera for the photo if at all possible. The low light capabilities are getting better on phones, but the flash settings are not.
3.) Take Multiple Shots! – One way to try and avoid getting eyes closed or people not looking at the camera is to take a lot of photos. The more you take the more chances you have for a good one. And trust me if you are also going to set the timer so that you can be in it you will more than likely have to take a few to get a good one! A wireless handheld remote for also really helps for this! Do not use the digital zoom feature on a cell phone because the photo will be too grainy, rather than using the zoom position yourself in a way that puts the entire group in the frame.
4.) Use a tripod – Set your camera up on your tripod so that’s ready to take the shot in terms of framing, settings and focus and then it will be ready at an instant when you get the group looking just right to capture the moment. It’s important to get the attention of your subjects early so that you can get them posed and take the photo quickly especially if you are working with short attention spans, especially those of children. Tripods also help prevent camera shake and keep the focus sharp!
5.) Posing – You want to make sure that you can see everyone. Taller people should be in the back and shorter in the middle or front. I like to put people in between the “V” of the people in front of them and ask everyone to make sure that they can see me because if they can’t see me I can’t see them. Try to compose in a triangle composition with the tallest members in the middle. When photographing a large family try to keep immediate families near each other, spouses and kids, etc. People also look better slightly angled (not straight on) so I typically have the people turn slightly into the person next to them and have them either put their hands in their pocket or on their hip for women. Before releasing the shutter take one last look over through the camera to make sure you can see everyone. And if the group is really large you might want to consider taking the photo from a higher perspective either from a balcony or ladder.
Best wishes and happy portrait taking!