Interesting Group Shots

When we get together with family or friends and the camera comes out, we methodically line up, put our hands awkwardly to our sides or in front of us, and painfully grin. Group shots are challenging and often turn out mediocre and best. This is an opportunity to try something new.

First thing’s first. You need an idea, a concept. You need to pre-visualize your photo. One of the best resources for getting ideas on group shots are music magazines. There are lots of ideas of intersting ways to pose groups, and bands usually have intersting location shoots and positioning of its members. These are magazines like Filter or Spin, etc. Plan on going to Borders one evening, grab a cup of coffee, and browse their magazine section. Bring along your sketch book as well to jot down concepts you like so you don’t forget when it comes time to shoot.

With this image I wanted to do something different with my friends. Sping was coming and the sun was out, and the clouds were clearing. I wanted the image to feel like summer as well as capture the enjoyment of being with each other. The challenge with this shot was lighting. With the sun behinds us, all the faces were in the shade. To expose their faces right, I would lose the lovely blue sky. Here, i used a camera flash to fill in the subjects’ faces in order to keep my blue sky. Here’s how you do that. First, you meter the sky. Let’s say it’s f/16 at 1/250. The best way to control the intensity of the flash is through aperture. Next, set the camera on aperture priority and set the f-stop to f/16 (to match the sky behind them). This way, when you shoot, your subjects will be lit to match the background, in this case, the sky. If you want the sky darker, close down the aperture (make it smaller so less light comes through), in this case changing the aperture to f/22. When I got my exposure right (i’m laying on the ground for this shot), I had my friends lean in over me. It was a fun shot, and they were good sports about it. You’ll find that most people are willing to try new things for a photograph, especially if you send them a copy later.

About The Author

Heather graduated from Utah Valley State College with a BFA in photography. She is currently working for Rubberball Productions as well as freelancing. Her clients include the Los Angeles Times, Utah Valley Magazine, Utah Regional Ballet, and Utah Valley State College. Heather was the featured artist in GrayMatter Magaizine and has been a finalist in the Nikon International College Competition the last three years in a row. She has been shooting a lot of fashion, editorial/travel, and fine art photography. See more of her work at