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How to Take a Group Portrait with a Digital Camera

Learn how to take a group portrait from commercial photographer Dan Bracaglia in this digital photography lesson from Howcast.


Good group photography can be challenging because the more people you put into a frame, the harder it's going to be to get everybody to smile, everybody to loosen up, everybody to have their eyes open.

So the trick I always use is I'll rattle off a bunch of frames. For example, this image here of an engagement party, I held up the camera and I said, "Okay, I'm gonna take a photo in three, two, one". As I said three, two, one, I was hitting the shutter before and after. I was getting photos when they didn't expect their picture to actually be taken.

And the more images you take of a group the more, the higher your chances that everybody's gonna have their eyes open which is obviously the first goal of shooting a group and natural expression is the second goal.

This is another example of a little bit more of a candid one. The two main subjects knew that I was taking their photograph but everybody else didn't and that kind of draws the focus into them.

This is another example of a candid one. I was asked to shoot pre-school classes first day of school. I just rattle out a bunch of frames and found the one that I thought worked the best.

There's this old saying that you don't want to spray and pray which basically means firing off a bunch of frames and hoping for the best. Well, I think in the case of group portraits like this, spraying and praying is actually okay and a pretty good way to get the effect that you want.

It's a really important skill to have if you're going to be doing commercial work or you're going to be doing events and it's a great thing to practice.

Another important thing to remember when doing group portraits is to line the people in such a way that it's not distracting. You generally want to work from the outside having the shortest people on the sides and kind of working your way up to tallest and just fitting everybody in. There's nothing worse than an off balanced group photo.

I always try to laugh a lot when I'm shooting them and just act really goofy so people aren't taking me necessarily seriously and they're kind of lighthearted and they're not like, "Oh, man I'm getting my picture taken".

So being jolly and being funny and being silly is actually really encouraged when you're doing something like this because oftentimes it'll help you.

That's just some of the basics of getting good group portraits.

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