Group pictures can be intimidating. All the skills you’ve mastered to make a person look great in a picture now have to be applied to a bunch of folks all at once, and that’s not easy. Let me share a simple idea about posing groups that will help you arrange your subjects in a pleasing composition. This is a principle that you can apply to any size group.
Go for Pyramids
When you group people together, try to group them so that three faces make a triangle, and you can use the same face in multiple triangles. So you’ll have little groups of three throughout your photograph.
Of course, that’s the ideal, but sometimes it just doesn’t work perfectly. This family photo is great, and my clients like it, but compositionally it would have been nice if the youngest boy had been standing a touch to the left so he could be part of two triangles.
Avoid Vertical Alignment
You can see in the second diagram above that the father and boy are nearly aligned vertically. This kind of alignment is distracting. Maybe it’s just too perfect looking, but having one face directly above another draws the viewers’ eyes to that spot and it disrupts the composition. Even when posing only two people, always try to align their faces so that the center of the noses isn’t on the same vertical line.
You should practice making triangles in your compositions and learn to see them so that you can arrange them quickly, but don’t worry if it’s not perfect. It would have been great to have the boy over there, and the three boys a little closer to dad. But in this photograph, it was far more important that I elicit good expressions from everyone than that the boys stand exactly where I wanted them. On a Thursday night before everyone has had dinner it’s important to remember the adage
“Expression Over Perfection”
Portrait Tips come out each week, and you can see them all right here.
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