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Group posing advice?

Discussion in 'People' started by Steve S, May 3, 2005.

  1. Steve S

    Steve S

    Feb 1, 2005
    SE Florida
    On Thurs, for Mother's Day, I'm doing a group studio shot of my nephew & 3 neices. He is a strapping 6 ft+ tall 16 y.o, and the older, 14 y.o. neice is about 5' 5". Then there's the 2 paternal twin girls, which are just 5 y.o.
    How would you suggest I assemble their pose?
    I'm also doing individual shots of all of them, so any thoughts on those poses (and anything else related to this subject), would also be appreciated.
  2. shoot lots of shots really fast

    i so much hate shooting groups, because the odds of a picture killing expression are squared with each additional participant. it's hard, hard, hard.

    The only advice I've heard that I have found works for me at least a little is to sometimes give direction that doesn't make sense (and shoot really, really quickly, since everyone will focus for a second or two as they try to figure it out) or give direction that doesn't seem like direction, and again, shoot quickly to capture what happens.

    I saw great pictures Jay Maisel shows in his classes about working with a group shot - it was his daughter's whole 8th grade class from a girls school, all together on risers, for a class picture. (He offered to do the shoot because his daughter was sick and missed the official one, and who could turn THAT down?) Somewhere along the way he was getting frustrated at the pasted on self conscious smiles and stiff attempts to look beoootiful that you get with girls at that stage of life. So he looked over the top of the camera and said, in their general direction, "you've got some hair out of place there, could you try to straighten that out". And then shot his butt off as every single girl reached up to adjust her hair (because every one of them worried it was HER hair that was out of place) and then they all burst into laughter at the absurdity of what they just did. Both of those images - 20 girls all looking aghast and straightening their hair, and all of them in unselfconscious laughter, were in the category of priceless.

    I can't say I've ever found any thing as effective as that, but I try to be true to the spirit of it, and at least a good part of the time give instructions, directions, or converse about things OTHER than having their picture taken.

    From reading all of the "how this picture was done" in the photography mags, it seems that a huge percentage of the group shots we see these days are individual shoots put together in photoshop afterwards - the priceless Sopranos images, a few of the "here are all the supermodels who worked on this" shots, even the group photo of the VII photographers in the Canon ad have two people photoshopped in. If I'm really awful in this life I suspect I'll be reincarnated as a groups photographer.
  3. JAM


    Apr 30, 2005
    Albuquerque, NM
    I sure agree with ednaz. Back in the day when I did weddings (still can't believe I survived that), I came up with a corny character called "Mr. Lens". I'd tell the group if they couldn't see Mr Lens, he couldn't see them - and other similar nonsense. I did this to get the kids to look at the camera, but I was surprised that it worked on the adults too. At the reception, kids would say "there goes Mr. Lens" as
    I'd walk by, so I knew the silliness worked with them - if not the adults as well. Bottom line is that you have to have a playful attitude about doing groups. Its hard.

    The other thing was the 'blink factor". I used to tell myself that the probability of someone in the group blinking or otherwise contorting the face went up proportionally with the number of people in the group X some number. the idea was to take enough shots of the group in hopes that you'd get one or two where everyone was smiling and looking into the camera.

    Good luck!!!
  4. Steve S

    Steve S

    Feb 1, 2005
    SE Florida
    Thanks guys, but I need actual pose arrangement advice

    I think I can handle their expressions/smiles, but what I am really looking for here is how to place them in the frame. IE, who to put where, and in what position, sitting, standing, laying all over each other, whatever, you get the idea.
  5. Re: shoot lots of shots really fast

    Excellent tip! Thanks. There's ALWAYS a shot killer in every group. Jarrell once showed a portrait of most beautiful woman (admittedly not a group shot but...) who was in a wedding party. Nice features, smooth skin, pretty eyes...but she would NOT smile. He coaxed a "sort of" smirk from her...what a loss because his setup was perfect!

    For me, if I am going to the devil after life's travail he'll make me an accountant. If there's anything I hate it's doing the same thing twice. I'm told that I am an ENFP personality.

  6. two multi-kid posing ideas i've seen and liked

    do a totem pole (hey, that takes a lot of the pressure off bad facial expressions, you can just say it was intended!) with the biggest/oldest standing and the other heads stacked in front. Guess the ideal camera for that would be a panoramic camera, but I've seen this a lot in family pictures.

    The other thing I'd try, because it might work nicely but at minimum will break up any nervousness and self-consciousness, is some form of stacking them. Either the big kid laying down with head propped on hand and the rest arrayed behind him for a nice horizontal, or get them all to pile on and attack him and shoot whenever you get faces your way.

    Both of these approaches i've seen in entertainer family shots. In fact, i remember both poses from the Jackson 5 days...
  7. Have them do something moving (literally). Boy stands there, 15 year old jumps on back, twins pulling at his pant legs. This makes for fun expressions and they forget about the camera. Second image the boy is on the ground and 15 year old behind pushing him down and one twin on each side holding on to his arm or leg. Fun pictures likes this are usually some of the parents favorites.
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