The number of people in a group you are photographing matters a lot because the larger the group, the more likely someone will either be lost or late.
Besides that, coordinating the wardrobe or clothing will be more difficult as well.
Why Numbers Matter
You might be tempted to just line them up in a single row ala firing squad.
It’s ok to start there.
Your role is to take charge.
You decide who goes where in the viewfinder.
Generally speaking, you always want to compose so that faces are as big as possible in your viewfinder.
When numbers start getting large in the group, that means the individuals all need to get closer to one another.
Thankfully for me, this is a family so they aren’t uncomfortable about invading each other’s personal space.
Good luck if you’re photographing a bunch of CEO or board members.
If you’ve ever tried to arrange 6 identically sized books or objects in your rectangular canvas, you will quickly see how little variations in arrangement you can get.
Luckily for me, I had a mix of 3 adults and 3 children of varying sizes.
I also brought along 2 folding stools without backs.
That was a calculated move on my part because I expected little ones.
I knew I could have an adult seated with a chid on their lap — a device to bring their faces closer with minimal effort.
Generally speaking, your success will depend on how well you can keep the attention of the person with the shortest attention span.
In most cases, this means the youngest person will determine how much time you will have to create your magic.
So it’s usually a good idea to have the adults settled in to their spots, get your lighting squared away before you introduce the little ones.
It’s helpful to ask the age of the oldest person in the group..
If that oldest person has difficulty standing or getting around or is in a wheelchair, you will want to know this ahead of time because your choice of locations will be limited to wheel-chair accessibility.
It’s all about planning ahead.
It’s pretty obvious that large groups occupy more space but don’t forget about you and your lights.
The bigger the group, the more depth-of-field you will need and that translates into you needing to use supplemental lighting.
Relying solely on available light is ok.
The price of that approach is this: everyone will be squinting and sweating in the bright sunshine.
Supplemental lighting requires:
- additional room around your group for light placement
- a power source that is usually portable–batteries
Usually a minimum of 6 feet of space on the left and right of your group and possibly behind them if you need to add separation to make a person stand out against a dark background.
Next: Equipment considerations
Peter Phun Photography
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