If you haven’t already read Jim’s article on “10 Fool-Proof Posing Tips for Group Portraits,” head on over there for some group posing basics. Now that you’ve got those tips fresh in your head, we can look at applying them to capturing creative poses for large groups of 10+ people. I promise it only appears daunting – in reality, working with large groups can be a lot of fun and grow us as photographers. That’s why we’re here, right? So let’s go!
1) Pyramids are fun!
If you’re working with a large family, have the strongest on the bottom and the lightest on top. The idea is to have your clients on their knees and hands, and have people in the same position literally on top of them. In a fun position like this, it’s easy to incorporate 10+ people – and you’re bound to capture some natural smiles and laughter as human-pyramid building is actually a great group activity. Bring a blanket (or a couple, depending on the size of your group) just in case someone doesn't want to ruin their outfit.
2) “V” Formations are great alternatives!
If the group you’re working with doesn't fancy getting on the ground, then align them in a “V” formation (someone directly in front of the camera, then someone behind them but to the side on both sides, etcetera) and shoot! This is a fun alternative to the pyramid that is simple, clean, and still makes a gorgeous group photo. You can play with this pose, too – divide the group into pairs and make them stand in “V” formation or invert the V so the centre is at the back and the people to the sides are standing nearest to the camera. This pose is well-suited to business groups or wedding parties, too!
3) Everyone loves some action!
Group action shots are definitely worth it, too, and might even pose a great opportunity to use what’s around you. This will be a wider shot to make sure we include everyone, but have your clients line up on a picnic table, or on a ledge of some kind (not too high!) – Even solid, flat ground will work if there’s nothing else. Count down with your group and then after you reach “1” – get them to JUMP and capture a shot of (mostly) everyone in the air! This is such a fun shot and you’ll have ample opportunity to capture natural smiles and laughter during and even after the jump (someone might fall, and it might be funny).
Get your group to hold hands during the jump, or make them stand side-ways to the camera so we can keep the group as tight as possible without risking someone’s flailing limbs hitting someone else. If lining up the group in a straight line doesn't seem appealing, put them back into the “V” formation and ask for the same thing. If someone can’t jump, have the rest of the group jump around them. There are a variety of different things you can do that will still deliver just as much impact in the final product.
4) The photographer can get dirty, too!
Lay down on the ground and have the group surround you in a big circle. Have them look down at you and at your camera, and shoot up! This is such a great pose because it unifies everybody you’re shooting. To make the shot more interesting, you can even have your group only look amongst each other (as if in a huddle), or ask them to make funny faces.
5) Create an illusion!
Have you seen those photo’s where it looks like a group of people are being blown over by a giant, or maybe someone hulk-punched the ground and the force sent everyone around them flying into the air? If you want fun and creative, these kinds of poses are an all-in-one. Some other ideas for creating an illusion in your 10+ people group shots are telekinesis-like shots (have someone in the middle, holding their hands up, and have everyone around them jump so it appears that the person in the middle is using their mind to make them float!) or invest in some balloons and make everyone jump so it looks like they’re floating away! Seriously, so much potential in these shots!
6) Kill Uniformity
Group photos often look boring because there is no clear focal point in the photo. Choosing a photo like the one above shows off each individual since each individual is dressed and posed differently. The group still looks united, but the individuals stick out much more, which makes for an interesting shot.
7) Forget Faces
Sometimes photography clients ask for something that they think they want. If you've been hired to shoot an organization or business group, remember to ask how the photos will be used.
The photo above would be a great shot for a business to use in an advertisement or on its website. It works well to show the group and what they represent, but doesn't actually show the faces of those in the group. If that type of photo works for what your client wants you to do with the shoot, it could be a good option. I would still recommend getting other shots of the group and showing faces, but one or two shots like this could put a more creative twist on the traditional group portrait.
8) Group Words
Again, the key to a great group shot is to give the viewer a clear focal point in the photo instead of just boring lines of people to stare at. One option would be to have those in the group hold signs with letters on them to represent something about the group.
You wouldn't need to have the signs printed. Simply have the people hold a pieces of posterboard and then put the letters on the posterboard in Photoshop using the simple text tool.
And there you have it – 8 creative posing ideas to get you started the next time you work with 10+ people. The most important thing about working with large groups is to take control – and have FUN!