How to take amazing group photos

Published:
by David Em
Last updated:

Portraits Refined may earn a commission on purchases made from links on this page. For more information, read Affiliate Disclosure.

Learn what gear you need to have, tips to make sure everyone’s in focus, and how to find locations to take amazing group photos.

Group of friends having a picnic in a field.

Preparation and location

Amazing group photos begin before the photoshoot. You must take the proper steps in preparation for it.

Related: 5 tips for capturing family pictures

The first step is to find out how many people will be in the photo. By knowing the number of people, you can plan out the types of photos and get ideas for posing.

It’ll also help you choose the right location. The location must be able to fit everyone nicely into the frame.

Before the photoshoot, take a look at different locations. Notice the type of light that’s available and how the backgrounds look.

Group photos look the best when you shoot in the shade with a background that isn’t distracting. The focus must be on the people that you’re photographing.

It’s important to avoid bright direct light because it causes hard shadows, and people will squint.

Also, make sure your batteries are fully charged and your gear is functioning. The last thing you want is to find out that your camera won’t even turn on.

Use the right gear

With group photos, your photography gear matters. The lens you choose is one of the most important decisions because it’ll determine how far away you need to stand.

Choose your lens based on the number of people in the photo and the space available at a location.

Often, wide-angle lenses are better than telephoto lenses for group photos because you’ll be able to fit more people in the frame without being too far away.

If you have a lot of space available, a telephoto lens can offer a beautiful separation between the group and the background.

Another way to have a successful group photoshoot is to use a tripod. With a tripod, you can set the camera at the ideal position and focus on the group.

If you have a handheld remote, be sure to bring it because it’ll make the photoshoot easier.

Take multiple shots

People will move, blink, and look away. To make sure you get the perfect photo, take multiple shots.

The easiest way to do this is to set your camera to continuous shooting mode and use a fast shutter speed.

It may take you longer to go through them, but it’ll be worth it.

By having multiple photos of the same pose to choose from, you can make sure that everyone’s looking their best.

Use a narrow aperture

If you’re photographing a large group with rows of people, you must use a narrow aperture to ensure everyone in the group is in sharp focus.

If you use a large aperture and there are rows of people, the front row may be in focus, but everyone else will look blurry.

If you’re capturing photos of a smaller group, such as four people, you can use a larger aperture.

For larger groups, use an f-stop of f/5.6 or smaller. If you’re in doubt, use f/8 because it’ll keep everyone in focus.

Stagger the heads

When everyone is lined up perfectly, it creates a straight line, which isn’t visually interesting.

Instead, move people around to make their heads at different levels. This means putting kids or shorter people in between taller people.

You can also use stools, chairs, or benches for people to sit while others stand.

Additionally, make sure you can see everyone’s head. It’s common for people to get fully or partially blocked. Move them around accordingly.

Tell them to get closer

Naturally, people will stand with a little bit of space in between them. This can lead to an image that looks awkward.

Tell the group to squeeze in and get closer. When a group is closer together, it’ll look more natural and better overall.

Separate the colors

Group photos look the best when people wear solid colors without patterns or big logos. It also helps to separate the colors.

By separating people and mixing up the colors, the group photo will look more aesthetically pleasing.

If there’s a bunch of people wearing the same color, it’ll look odd because the colors will be grouped.

When you separate people by the colors that they’re wearing, each person will stand out, and the photo will be balanced.

Check the background

The background is important because it needs to complement the group. It’s also essential to check the background for possible distractions.

When there are busy lines, such as mountains, trees, and buildings in the background, it can be hard to see everyone’s faces.

The key is to shoot with a simple background and keep everyone’s head above or below the horizon.

Be mindful of the background, and you’ll be able to take amazing group photos.

Take silhouette shots

If the photoshoot is taking place during sunrise or sunset, change things up by taking silhouette photos.

It can be difficult to take a great silhouette photo of a group because there are many different factors.

Therefore, focus on movement and making sure no one is standing upright with their hands to their side.

Since you’ll only be able to see the outline of a person, movement ensures that there are gaps and it looks lively.

Conclusion

By learning how to make a group photo look amazing, your photoshoots will run smoothly and you’ll get great results. Have fun, smile, and be confident.

Featured image courtesy of Unsplash.

About David Em

David Em.

David Em is the founder of Portraits Refined. He’s a published portrait photographer dedicated to helping photographers develop skills, capture incredible photos, and build successful businesses.

About Portraits Refined

Portraits Refined (PR) is a media company that publishes the latest expert-backed portrait photography tips, in-depth camera gear reviews, and helpful advice to grow your photography business.

Connect